The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Anonymous sources on the Redskins

(Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)

The surging gusher of leaks coming out of Redskins Park has been on my mind in recent days.

For one thing, there was Mike Shanahan’s decision to walk out of his press conference when asked whether he could do anything to stop the leaks.

For another, there was Paul Farhi’s Washington Post story about the odd justifications for the use of anonymous sources in modern journalism.

“It used to be that anonymous sources — Watergate’s “Deep Throat” was the most famous — spoke on the condition of anonymity because…well, because they wouldn’t speak to reporters any other way….” Farhi wrote. “So, in an attempt at greater transparency, news organizations began explaining why their sources weren’t being identified by name. The idea was to offer readers a little peek under the veil of anonymity.”

And so on. It’s an interesting read, especially if you’re curious about the machinations of journalism.

Plus, this.

Now, I have nothing but respect for my sportswriting colleagues who actually break news, under great pressure and with great stress. I used to be in that business, and it’s hell. And there are many, many, many cases when sports journalism just will not happen without granting anonymity to sources.

That said, the mess in Ashburn has led to a lot of anonymous sources who — to this reader — appear to be primarily interested in making other people look bad, and by extension, making their own allies look better.

So, just for fun, I pulled a whole bunch of anonymously sourced sentences, and attempted to make one coherent-ish story, in which every sentence was anonymously sourced.

Actually, it wasn’t particularly fun. But it took a lot of time. So here it is.


Mike Shanahan will not resign from his job and actually would like to return to Washington next season as long as he can run the organization the way he wants, according to multiple sources. [1] The Washington Redskins were sorting through their options…and one of the possibilities is firing Shanahan for cause and attempting to withhold the money due to him for the remainder of his contract, according to multiple people familiar with the situation.[2] Sources close to the Redskins’ coaching staff [say] that the coaches believe they will be fired, but there’s been no official determination from the organization.[3]

Disillusioned with the way Snyder was running the organization, Shanahan cleaned out his office in advance of last January’s wild-card playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks and expected to leave the team whenever the season ended, according to a source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.[4] In recent weeks, according to two sources close to the situation, the elder Griffin has politicked Snyder to hire Baylor coach Art Briles, who coached the younger Griffin to a Heisman Trophy, to replace Shanahan.[5]

According to current and former staff members, Kyle Shanahan has been granted virtual autonomy by Mike Shanahan to guide the team. Furthermore, Kyle Shanahan has long had a very strained relationship with Griffin, sources said, with one staff member saying Shanahan treats Griffin like, “a JV quarterback.”[6] One source who has known the Griffin family for at least six years recently compared the elder Griffin to the late Earl Woods, Tiger Woods’ father and a man who many believe lived in the reflective glory of his son’s accomplishments.[7]

“Ultimately, it’s his father’s fault for pacifying his son,” the source said.[8]

[Admit it: you don’t even know which father this is referring to – ed.]

Despite speculation that the Redskins would fire Shanahan for cause, there is “no chance” that will happen in the words of a lawyer familiar with the contract.[9]

Redskins player [said] that Griffin and Mike Shanahan passed each other in the hallway this week without saying a word.[10] Despite what Shanahan has said publicly…sources affirm that the coach switched quarterbacks for performance reasons.[11] Several people with knowledge of the deliberations confirmed Snyder did not object when told by Shanahan. But those people, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic, said it is not clear whether Snyder endorsed the maneuver.[12]

A person with knowledge of the relationship between Snyder and Shanahan said…Snyder has attempted to meet all of the requests made by Shanahan during his coaching tenure by moving the Redskins’ training camp to Richmond, building an indoor practice facility at Redskins Park, hiring a new chef to cook meals for players and coaches at the club’s headquarters and upgrading the team’s travel accommodations during road trips.[13]

Shanahan privately told people close to him that he felt Snyder’s behavior with regard to Griffin was a “complete farce.”[14] At Baylor they didn’t put RGIII‘s bad plays up on the board in the meeting rooms. Sources familiar with the situation say he has asked the Redskins to do the same.[15] As a team source put it: “Robert is not a bad kid. That’s not it at all. But he doesn’t listen right now.”[16]

RGIII has told teammates he believes he’ll be playing for a different head coach in 2014.[17] People familiar with the situation…perceive RGIII as kind of insecure.[18] [A] team source agreed that Griffin has the kind of athletic confidence/arrogance that causes him to ignore the rules of physics.[19] One person familiar with the matter said…there were “a number of things on the table.”[20]


1 – Adam Schefter,

2 – Mark Maske,

3 –, Dec. 12.

4 – Dan Graziano,

5 – Jason Cole, Bleacher Report.

6 – Jason LaCanfora,

7 – Jason Cole, Bleacher Report.

8 – Jason LaCanfora,

9 – Adam Schefter,

10 –, Dec. 15.

11 –, Dec. 12.

12 – Mark Maske, Washington Post, Dec. 13.

13 – Mark Maske, Washington Post, Dec. 8.

14- Dan Graziano,

15 –, Nov. 24.

16 – Jason Cole, Bleacher Report.

17 –, Dec. 15.

18 –, Nov. 24.

19 – Jason Cole, Bleacher Report.

20 – Mark Maske,