Whoever leaked Sunday’s ESPN.com story about Mike Shanahan “intending to quit” last season because of Dan Snyder’s relationship with Robert Griffin III, and whatever that person’s motives were, it seems to have backfired. Redskins fans and local media members have overwhelmingly reacted negatively to Shanahan in this showdown; many have explicitly sided with Dan Snyder. Many would also volunteer to clean Shanahan’s office out this time around.
Local media members, citing sources, have said that Griffin and Snyder’s relationship is less cozy than has been suggested. Others have said it would make sense for the owner to be close with his most important employee; that this is nothing untoward.
All that said, some pundits and ex-players thought the suggestion of an abnormally close relationship between owner and quarterback — the trips to movie premieres, the dinner dates at Cafe Milano, the wedding dances, and the other stuff detailed by ESPN.com — was problematic. Or at least could be.
“I don’t know what happened down there, but I coached a little bit,” Mike Ditka said on ESPN. “I was fortunate enough to be able to be a coach. I don’t know what I would have done if the owner went around me to the player. I really don’t know. In my opinion, that’s very disrespectful My relationship has to be, I have to be in control of my football team. I’ll answer to the owner, but I have to control that football team. And I think that owners own, coaches coach, players play. Leave it at that.”
“I obviously played for Mr. Snyder, and when I got to Washington, I was surprised,” Shawn Springs said on Comcast SportsNet. “For us, it was Clinton Portis. Every team has a player, a star player that gets a little preferential treatment. It happens. But Washington was different, because usually it happens with a player and a coach. I’d never seen it before with an owner and a player. So that was surprising to me. And with even being in New England, Tom Brady — who is probably the image or the symbol of the NFL — him and Mr. Kraft didn’t have that type of relationship. So that was a little different for me.”
“It crushes the product on the field, if a head coach is undermined in any way,” Trevor Matich said on the same network. “You’ve got 53 players on this football team. They’re all grown men, they’re all making a lot of money, they’re all superstars in their own right. And if any of those guys can go above the head coach and go directly to the owner and have that relationship with the owner, then he doesn’t even need to have the owner say anything to the coach. It’s understood that hey, you know what, the coach is not my boss. I’m working for that guy over there. And we saw that with Clinton Portis and Dan Snyder, and it hurt the team. Whether or not Dan Snyder intended it to hurt the team, it did….That crushes chemistry in the locker room, and it crushes the ability for a team to be able to come together as a cohesive unit. So that’s one thing that Dan Snyder has got to stop, if indeed this is going on to this level.”
“Honestly is anyone shocked by this?” LaVar Arrington wrote on Twitter on Sunday.
“Not trying to be a [jerk] but didn’t you have a pretty friendly relationship with Dan for awhile?” a reader asked Arrington.
“That’s why this is such an interesting story,” Arrington answered. “Sounds real familiar.”
— Joe Theismann (@Theismann7) December 8, 2013
“It’s hard to have total autonomy if the quarterback and the owner are best buds and the coach is coming in there,” Dan Patrick said on NBC’s Football Night in America. “There is no room for a third party here.”
“For things to work in Washington there is going to need to be a change, Dan Snyder is going to need to change the way that he does things and the way he allows his coaches to do things, and the decision makers,” former executive Scott Pioli said.
“What did he do wrong in this situation?” Patrick asked.
“Once again, the same thing, where he gets too close to his players,” Pioli answered. “They make decisions that aren’t necessarily for the greater good; they are better for the relationship between the owner and the star player.”