When Charley Casserly walked out of Redskin Park yesterday, he almost certainly walked away from the Washington Redskins' organization for good.
His resignation as general manager takes effect today. He has agreed to serve as a consultant to owner Daniel M. Snyder for the remaining two seasons on his contract. But the Redskins, and Casserly himself, do not see him in the decision-making loop.
So now his search for a job elsewhere in the NFL will begin in earnest. He doesn't plan to attend the Redskins' preseason finale tonight against Tampa Bay at Redskins Stadium.
It was an inglorious ending to a tenure with the team that began in 1977, when Casserly served as an unpaid intern to the late George Allen. He worked alongside Allen, Bobby Beathard, Joe Gibbs and Jack Kent Cooke and was on board for three Super Bowl victories. But these are new times for the Redskins, and Casserly said yesterday he leaves with no hard feelings.
"As I told Dan Snyder when he got the club, it's his right to have anyone he wants in this position," he said. "I respect that. There's no bitterness whatsoever toward him or how he handled this. When ownership changes, the general manager almost always changes. I have absolutely no problem with that. I understand it. At the time we shook hands on our settlement, I wished him well. I said I'm rooting for him. I hope the Redskins succeed under him."
As he spoke yesterday, Casserly was sitting in a bare office. He'd been answering his own telephone since his secretary was fired last week. He plans to be in Baltimore this afternoon for the Ravens-New York Giants game--at which a scene for the upcoming movie about the Redskins' 1987 strike team will be filmed at halftime--then watch the Redskins-Buccaneers game on television.
He'll be serving as a once-a-week studio analyst for Westwood One radio during the regular season. But neither his arrangement with Snyder nor his radio deal prevents him from taking a job with another NFL team or with the league. He reached a settlement with Snyder that Casserly has said is worth more than the remaining portion of his contract, which was two seasons for an estimated $500,000 annually.
"There are mixed emotions," Casserly said. "There's a level of excitement about going on to something else. I haven't packed up an office in 23 years to go to a new job. . . . I want to stay in the NFL."
Snyder said when Casserly agreed to step aside that he had become convinced Casserly and Coach Norv Turner could not work together. Snyder hired Vinny Cerrato as director of player personnel, and gave Turner the final say over all player-related personnel decisions.
Casserly declined to answer questions yesterday about his working relationship with Turner, saying it was not the day for debating the inner workings of the player moves that have left the Redskins in a six-season playoff drought.
He is being sued, along with former team president John Kent Cooke, by Howard Milstein. Milstein alleges Cooke and Casserly impeded his attempt to gain league approval after winning a bidding process for the Redskins from the estate of the late Jack Kent Cooke.
But Casserly exited in an upbeat mood. He says he's proud that he played a part in handing over a franchise in good shape to Snyder, Cerrato and Co. The Redskins believe they have a playoff-caliber team, and they have three first-round selections in next April's college draft. The optimism comes at the end of an offseason that began with the Redskins virtually unable to operate because of the uncertainty surrounding the sale of the team.
"The last six to eight months, I'm as proud of that period as anything else," Casserly said. "Considering all the turmoil surrounding our situation, we had an excellent draft. We did excellent in free agency, and we left the organization in an excellent position with the three first-round draft picks. I can't say enough about the people that work here, the way they responded to the conditions. Because of the way they responded, this is a better organization than it was in January."
He recalled his first day with the organization. He was staying at a YMCA in Alexandria and driving a beat-up Chevy Nova with 120,000 miles on it. He reported to the team a day early, and received a one-sentence note from Allen telling him to compile a scouting report on the Green Bay Packers. That was it. There were no further instructions. He brought some lunch items with him that day, and put them in a refrigerator. When he returned to work for Day 2, his food was gone.
"That was a tough break," Casserly said. "You're not getting paid, and they steal your lunch."
Now only two people who were in the organization when Casserly arrived--assistant GM Bobby Mitchell and head trainer Bubba Tyer--have outlasted him.
"Being able to work with people like Jack Kent Cooke, George Allen, Joe Gibbs, John Kent Cooke and Bobby Beathard--those are the things you spend your whole life hoping to have a chance to do," Casserly said. "You're proud to be a part of that."
Redskins Notes: The team released wide receiver Tim Alexander, its seventh-round pick in April's college draft, and re-signed defensive tackle Rod Walker.