The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The first instance of #FireBruceAllen was tweeted in jest. Now it’s a movement.

The silence from Redskins owner Daniel Snyder regarding the job status of Jay Gruden, his coaching staff and what remains of the front office after last month’s shake-up to the business operations department has been deafening. In the meantime, the cries from disgruntled Redskins fans advocating for one specific change to the team’s leadership structure have only grown louder.

The Redskins have tweeted five times in the New Year, once to congratulate former Washington linebacker Brian Orakpo on his retirement and four times to applaud current members of the team on individual accomplishments during the 2018 season. The replies to each of these tweets feature the same 15-character message, in hashtag form, over and over and over again: #FireBruceAllen.

While the Redskins ousted president of business operations Brian Lafemina in December after less than eight months on the job, Allen, whom many fans hold most responsible for the Redskins' current predicament, remained as team president.

#FireBruceAllen first emerged as a popular hashtag in 2014, when Allen assured reporters and fans after a 4-12 season that the Redskins were “winning off the field.” The hashtag virtually disappeared after Washington’s NFC East title in 2015, but it resurfaced after the Redskins fired General Manager Scot McCloughan in March 2017 and has seemingly gained steam with every misstep by the once-proud franchise since then. It has never been as prevalent as it is right now.

Eric Doctor was way ahead of the curve. On Dec. 21, 2009, Doctor became the first person, as best as I can tell, to use the hashtag #FireBruceAllen on Twitter. Allen had been on the job for four days.

Doctor’s tweet came during the Redskins' 45-12 loss to the Giants on “Monday Night Football,” an embarrassing defeat that will forever be remembered for Jim Zorn’s failed “Swinging Gate.”

“I think the fact that I tweeted it four days after he was hired is a unique window into the woes of being a Skins fan, because we didn’t have Vinny Cerrato to scapegoat anymore,” Doctor, whose bigger claim to fame is scribbling a giant shrug emoticon as his final answer on “Jeopardy!” last month, said in a phone interview on Thursday.

Doctor, 30, grew up in Rochester, N.Y. and inherited his Redskins fandom from his dad. His grandfather was on the season-ticket waiting list for 35 years before finally being offered the chance to purchase tickets when FedEx Field opened in 1997.

“I’m still a die-hard,” Doctor said. “I keep up with the team and try to go to one home game every year, but it’s harder to be a fan for sure. I guess I’m a masochist, but the first song I learned was ‘Hail to the Redskins.’"

Like other fans, Doctor said he’s noticed a “steady decline” in the fan experience at FedEx Field during Allen’s tenure, and is frustrated with many of the recent decisions made by his favorite team.

“You would go to a game at FedEx Field 10 years ago, and we’d have 95,000 seats filled with burgundy and gold jerseys,” he said. “Now you go to a game and they can’t sell it out, and a real significant portion of the crowd is for the other team. I don’t know if Bruce Allen has some dirt on Dan Snyder or something, but it seems like everyone but him gets fired. We signed Reuben Foster two days after he had been arrested for domestic violence and we fired D.J. Swearinger for expressing frustrations with the team. This isn’t an easy franchise to root for.”

While Doctor’s initial #FireBruceAllen tweet was made in jest and he hasn’t joined the legion of Redskins fans flooding timelines with the hashtag in recent weeks, he said he would fully support the move.

“The team’s failing from a football perspective, it’s failing from a business perspective, and Bruce Allen is in charge of both,” Doctor said.

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Gifting Daniel Snyder any money or land for a new Redskins stadium would be absolute madness

Scott Van Pelt on the Redskins: ‘Is anyone at Redskins Park listening?’

I’ve always been a Redskins fan. Maybe it’s time to move on.