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Dinner and a Job, But There's a Cost

Greg Blache was persuaded over dinner with Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to succeed his friend Gregg Williams.
Greg Blache was persuaded over dinner with Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to succeed his friend Gregg Williams. (By John Mcdonnell -- The Washington Post)
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Thursday, August 28, 2008; Page E01

A private jet belonging to Daniel Snyder landed at a small airport in Iron County, Wis., on Friday morning, Jan. 25. Greg Blache, sequestered in the retirement home he built with his wife, Lynn, eventually hopped aboard a whirlwind plane ride. His 12-hour journey to the owner's mansion and back would irrevocably alter the course of the franchise and fracture a deep friendship between two proud, stubborn men -- one of whom returns tonight, with the visiting team.

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Cue "The Godfather" theme. This is how it went down.

Blache, a defensive coach then on the verge of turning 58, had decided to retire two days earlier, knowing in his gut that Gregg Williams, the head of Washington's defense and the man who brought Blache here to impart mayhem on a football field, was most likely not going to succeed Joe Gibbs. He and Lynn even made the announcement to friends that evening at their neighbors' home. Over homemade pasta, they clinked glasses of supermarket red wine with other couples and their families.

The topic of conversation at the dinner party essentially became, Greg Is Finally Getting Out and Having Time to Hunt and Spend with Family. The couple arrived home at 10:30 that evening, feeling their future was set -- until the phone rang at 12:30 a.m. and a groggy Blache answered.

It was Vinny Cerrato, the general manager.

"Hey, Dan wants to talk to you," Cerrato said.

"I'll be back in the office on Monday," Blache replied.

"No, Dan needs to talk to you tomorrow."

"Vin, I'm in Wisconsin. I can't get back."

Snyder got on the phone.

"Hey, I need to talk to you. Come over to my house, we're eating dinner tomorrow. I'll send a plane. What's the closest airport?

"Rhinelander, Wisconsin."

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