The Washington Redskins' new owner, Daniel M. Snyder, fired approximately 25 of the team's front-office employees yesterday, mostly in the stadium operations, public relations and marketing departments.
The firings came two days after Snyder, a Bethesda marketing executive, and his partners, Mortimer Zuckerman and Fred Drasner, closed on their $800 million purchase of the Redskins and Jack Kent Cooke Stadium from the Cooke estate.
"We're beginning a new era with the Washington Redskins and are anxious to have our own people in key positions," Snyder said. "We're very excited about what's happening with the franchise."
Many of the changes were made on the business side of the team. According to team sources, about 15 members of the approximately 60-member stadium staff were dismissed, including stadium manager Jeff Klein. Snyder previously had said that he was dissatisfied with the traffic flow to the stadium, the parking-lot access and amenities for fans.
Michael Dillow, executive vice president for stadium sales and marketing, was given additional responsibilities. The Snyder group reorganized stadium operations, and Dillow's new title will be senior vice president of operations for the stadium.
Also released were public relations director Mike McCall and all but one member, Chris Helein, of his staff. It was learned that McCall would be replaced by onetime Redskins public relations staff member John Konoza and that a former Snyder Communications staffer, Casey Husband, would join the public relations staff.
"Any owner has the right to do whatever he wants with his company," said McCall, who was about to enter his 10th season with the organization and whose secretary, Phyllis Hayes, was fired after being with the team since 1976.
"I'm fortunate that I spent 10 great years with the Cooke family, winning the Super Bowl and having wonderful relationships with the players, coaches, staff and media. Those are the things I will cherish and take with me for life. That's the Redskins, to me -- the people I worked with and the staff I had that was let go. I've always been loyal to the Redskins. I loved every minute I worked here, and that's how everyone feels."
Sources said that most of the fired employees were given severance packages ranging from four to six months' pay.
Former team president John Kent Cooke's two secretaries were fired, as were two members of the team's marketing department.
Snyder already had hired marketing executive David Cope from the Baltimore Ravens, and had promised to make significant changes in the way the team is marketed.
After his deal with the estate was announced in April, Snyder sent letters to the team's employees saying he intended to retain them, including Coach Norv Turner and General Manager Charley Casserly. In recent weeks, however, it became clear as the Snyder group made a more detailed review of the organization that it wanted to make changes, including the possibility of a front office reorganization.
Casserly, whose contract runs through 2001, as does Turner's, may have his duties redefined. Snyder has said he intends to hire a team president, although he has not said when.