Washington Redskins Chief Operating Officer Dave Donovan is leaving the organization and will be returning to WilmerHale, the law firm where he worked before joining the team six years ago, the team said Monday.
In a phone interview Monday afternoon, Donovan said that he is leaving for “personal reasons,” and under his own terms.
“I was with [WilmerHale] for 20 years, and this was a great opportunity and an exciting job, but I never thought I would be here the rest of my career,” Donovan said. “I’m excited to go back to the firm. … It’s just for personal reasons. From August to January, you don’t really see a whole lot of your family.”
Donovan had served as outside counsel for Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder prior to joining the Redskins. While with the Redskins, Donovan served as Snyder’s spokesman on controversial issues, including the team’s lawsuit against a woman who failed to pay for her season tickets and, most recently, Snyder’s suit of the City Paper.
But Donovan said he has no regrets about any of his actions during his time with the Redskins.
“I’m not going to complain about media coverage or criticisms,” Donovan said. “Those were the issues that got the most coverage, but if people knew all the facts, they would’ve looked at those reports in a different light.”
Donovan described dealing with the death of Sean Taylor as the darkest time during his tenure with the Redskins. He cited stadium upgrades, including last season’s installation of a pair of 30-foot-high by 100-foot-wide HD video boards, as one of the highlights of his efforts over the last six years. The Redskins’ two playoff runs under Joe Gibbs in 2005 and 2007 rank as some of the most exciting memories, Donovan said.
Donovan had been involved in this year’s stadium renovations, which include the removal of roughly 5,000 seats to make room for two large party decks, which will be installed in 2012.
He will continue to serve as a consultant for both Snyder and the team.
“I’ll definitely still be involved,” Donovan said. “You won’t see me in the parking lots talking to tailgaters anymore, but I’ll still do some work for the Redskins.”
In a statement issued by the Redskins, Snyder expressed gratitude to Donovan for his services and said their relationship will continue despite his departure.
“We want to thank Dave for his years of service with the Redskins,” Snyder said. “Even though he is returning to the law firm where he worked prior to joining the team, he will continue to consult with the Redskins as he did prior to joining the organization. We look forward to continuing our relationship and wish him the best of luck in his new position.”