Who could forget the classic tale from Redskins lore of WUSA’s Dave Owens, frozen out from asking a question of GM Bruce Allen at the last Redskins press conference of 2013.
As Allen’s conference was winding down, a television reporter with a history of asking confrontational questions raised his hand and was handed a microphone, at which point communications director Tony Wyllie signaled to end the meeting. The reporter, WUSA-TV’s Dave Owens, waved off the team employee trying to retrieve the microphone; Wyllie then walked over and, after a brief tug of war, pulled the microphone from Owens’s hand.
Ah, the bad old days. But times are changing in Ashburn; that was well nigh more than a week ago. And in the new era, Dave Owens actually gets to ask the first question! An honor usually reserved for the AP’s Joseph White! Wyllie and Owens even struck a ceremonial pose with the microphone before the Jay Gruden press conference began! Puppies and daisies and hugs and cute little Rainbow Loom bracelets! Burgundy and gold ones!
“Dave Owens from CBS D.C.,” began THE FIRST QUESTION JAY GRUDEN WOULD EVER FACE IN WASHINGTON. “First of all Jay, congratulations on the position. This team is coming off of not just a 3-13 year, but one where a lot of ‘distasteful’ things happened, drama-filled things. What convinced you in the interview process that this was a place that wasn’t filled with dysfunction, and how will it be different under your [leadership]?”
Dang. So much for puppies. Puppy carcasses, maybe. Covered with moldy Rainbow Loom bracelets. And slime.
“Well, I don’t know what happened last year,” Gruden said, in THE FIRST ANSWER HE EVER DELIVERED IN WASHINGTON. “I know that interviewing with Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen and everybody here, that the passion for excellence is there. All’s they want to do is win, and they’re going to provide me with every avenue to win. And I don’t know what happened last year, I don’t care what happened last year. All’s I care about is next year moving forward. And I am going to provide the players with every avenue for them to succeed and be great. So moving forward, we’re going to forget about the past and look forward to the future every day.”
And fair enough, because if you can’t embrace some uplifting and optimistic cliches in YOUR FIRST EVER PRESS CONFERENCE AS AN NFL HEAD COACH, when can you? I mean, your very first press gathering is supposed to be clean and easy, filled with platitudes and smiles, in which everyone suspends their disbelief and….what’s that? Oh yeah. Owens wasn’t done.
“And when you say you don’t know what happened last year, I mean, there were various reports at the network level every day,” he said. “So you’re saying you didn’t hear and see any of those things?”
WHAT DID YOU KNOW AND WHEN DID YOU KNOW IT, person who was coaching an AFC team in the playoffs five days ago.
“I hear, but I don’t really believe all the reports that you guys report,” Gruden said, using HIS SECOND EVER ANSWER IN WASHINGTON to note that he doesn’t believe the media. “I wasn’t in the locker room. I was worried about my season and my team at the time. When I’m with the Washington Redskins, I’m not going to read about the Philadelphia Eagles or the Dallas Cowboys. I’m going to worry about the Washington Redskins locker room and making sure that we’re one team with one goal, and every intention of winning as many games as we can.”
I mean, what ever happened to “talk about how happy you are to finally get a head coaching job,” huh?