SNIDER: Rich Tandler was fans' link to Redskins

Rick Snider
October 17, 2018 - 3:07 pm

NBC Sports Washington


For every fan who dreamed of covering their favorite team, Rich Tandler was your guy.

Rich was a restaurant manager in 2001 when we met over his coming book, "The Redskins From A to Z." He didn't care if the book made money. Rich just loved chronicling the Redskins and his first of three books included a box score of every game in team history.

Rich died suddenly on Tuesday at age 63. A real loss for fans, but also his friends because he was simply a nice man. Fans who emailed or tweeted to him always received a quick response. Rich knew what fans wanted because he was one.

Rich was a grinder. He didn't mind working hard. Then nearly 50 years old, he spent a decade working for little to nothing to cover the team before finally getting a job with NBC Sports in 2011. Not many people that age would work so hard for just a chance at a second career. Rich's "Real Redskins" blog in 2004 was a pioneer in covering the team a new way and fans loved him for it.

Rich's press row seat will remain forever empty. Ironically, I remember Rich's first season was working for Warpath magazine. Long story short, the team reluctantly granted a press pass to the publication I edited and Rich was made our correspondent. The team put him in the third row without a seat. Rich stood the entire season. He said standing didn't bother him after a lifetime of working on his feet.

Rich was king of the dawn patrol. After rising at 4 a.m. to open restaurants for 30 years, he couldn't sleep any later even as a reporter. No matter how early you looked on Twitter, Rich's tweets were already up talking about what was to come.

Most of my conversations with Rich were on the sidelines while watching practice or before games. Whenever I couldn't remember something, Rich always could, no matter the year.

I take solace in knowing Rich's final years were doing a job he loved. Everyone should be so lucky. My pastor says our last breath on Earth becomes our first breath in Heaven. I will miss Rich, but smile knowing he's with God and everything is OK. And maybe, we'll talk Redskins again one day.

R.I.P Rich.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks