By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder promoted longtime senior vice president Mitch Gershman to chief operating officer last month, replacing Dave Pauken, who left the organization for personal reasons. Pauken, who was described by former high-ranking team officials as Snyder's "right-hand man" and confidant, confirmed his departure from the club but declined to comment further.
Like Pauken, Gershman came to the Redskins from Snyder Communications after Snyder purchased the team in 1999. Gershman has overseen Washington's ticket office and was involved in sales, and gained his formal introduction to his new position at the NFL meetings in Orlando in late March, when he was introduced to officials from other clubs. Two team executives who spoke with Gershman said they were told that Pauken left "to explore other options," and that Gershman would be handling all of Pauken's former responsibilities. Gershman declined to comment for this story and deferred questions to team spokesman Karl Swanson.
While the Redskins' football operations primarily are overseen by head coach and team president Joe Gibbs, Pauken was involved with all areas of the business side. The role of chief operating officer requires long hours and significant travel as the Redskins try to remain at the vanguard of marketing and sponsorship deals in the NFL.
"There wasn't a deal that Dan made that Dave wasn't a part of," said one former Redskins executive who worked extensively with both men. "He would always be sitting right next to Dan, by his side. That was Dan's man."
The Redskins made no announcement of the front office change, but that is in keeping with Snyder's history, Swanson said. Pauken became the Redskins' COO in 2001, but Swanson said that a "transition was in the works" and that Pauken expressed an interest to "concentrate on other interests, his family being one of them."
Swanson said that Gershman has a wide-ranging business background from his time at Snyder Communications, and that his prior duties had centered on the ticket office at FedEx Field, but were not entirely limited to that area.
Redskins Note: Jordan Woy, the agent for free agent linebacker Keith Adams, said five teams remain in the mix to sign the veteran, including the Redskins. Washington is not the front-runner at this point, according to sources with knowledge of the situation, but has maintained interest and brought Adams in for a visit Friday.
Adams also has visited Arizona, Oakland and Carolina, according to sources, but thus far has been seeking a signing bonus exceeding what Washington is offering. The Redskins have been looking to sign experienced players for close to the veteran minimum, as they did with free agent cornerback Kenny Wright recently, and have kept the lines of communication open with free agent linebacker Warrick Holdman as well.
Woy said that Adams expects to make a decision on his new team in the next day or two. The Redskins are $3.8 million under the salary cap, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
Researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.