Thus ended the decade-long run of a man whose power around the team was second only to Snyder’s. A new era was coming quickly as Snyder worked to implement the new start he had been planning the past few weeks. As a moving truck pulled up to the team facility and workers began removing furniture, Snyder was trying to hire former Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera as the Redskins’ new coach.
The expectation Monday was that the sides would soon reach an agreement, barring any last-minute snags, though none had been reached as of Monday evening. Their discussions appeared headed toward a deal, according to one person familiar with the situation, who added it was not clear whether one would be completed by Monday night. Rivera traveled to the Washington area with his wife, according to that person, ahead of an expected meeting with Snyder.
But before then, Allen’s firing took some around the team by surprise. While multiple people familiar with Snyder’s intent had believed Allen would no longer be overseeing the team’s football operations, some had expected Allen to remain in a different role, perhaps overseeing the effort to build a new stadium. Instead, Snyder announced that Allen was cut out completely.
“Like our passionate fan base, I recognize we have not lived up to the high standards set by great Redskins teams, coaches and players who have come before us," Snyder said in the statement. "As we reevaluate our team leadership, culture and process for winning football games, I am excited for the opportunities that lie ahead to renew our singular focus and purpose of bringing championship football back to Washington D.C.”
Snyder removed not only Allen but also Larry Hess, the Redskins’ trainer for the past nine years who had been with the team for 18 seasons. Hess told co-workers he had been let go Monday, one person with knowledge of the situation said. Hess was considered a favorite of Snyder’s but in recent years had drawn the ire of several players, some of whom have had frustrations with the care provided by team trainers and doctors. NBC Sports Washington was the first to report Hess’s removal.
A close confidant of Snyder’s, Allen became the frequent target of fan frustration in recent years as the franchise struggled on the field and saw its once-proud fan base dwindle. Washington’s record since Allen was hired late in the 2009 season is 62-100-1. Allen’s tenure ended a day after the team lost, 47-16, at the Dallas Cowboys to finish 3-13, tying the franchise’s lowest win total since 1961.
For 10 years, he wielded tremendous power in the organization, overseeing both business and football operations for most of his time with the team. But his control — once seen as absolute — appeared to wane in recent weeks as the totality of the franchise’s decline became apparent with just two postseason appearances, seven losing seasons and a deteriorating fan base that left FedEx Field close to half-empty for many games.
This season was particularly trying for the Redskins with an 0-5 start, the Oct. 7 firing of coach Jay Gruden and an ugly, months-long holdout by star left tackle Trent Williams.
At the time of Allen’s hiring, the move was seen by many as a sign of maturity by Snyder, who brought Allen in to manage the franchise’s business operations and work with incoming coach Mike Shanahan, who was hired in January 2010.
But Allen, the son of famed Redskins coach George Allen, did not recapture the prestige of his father’s time with the team. Instead, it was filled with controversies that included battles with Shanahan and fiascos surrounding quarterbacks Donovan McNabb, Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins.
Twice in the past 10 years, Allen’s power appeared threatened. The first came when Snyder hired Scot McCloughan as general manager in 2015, and the second was in 2018 when he brought in respected sports business insider Brian Lafemina to run the business operations. Allen survived both. McCloughan was fired in 2017, and Lafemina was let go last December just months after his hiring. Allen, who had ceded authority over the organization’s business side when Lafemina was hired, regained full control over both the football and business operations in January.
Although a forceful figure behind the scenes, Allen was often invisible to the public. He rarely did interviews, and his few news conferences became a source of mockery for many disgruntled fans. His 2014 assertion that the team was “winning off the field,” following two seasons in which the Redskins had won just seven total games, outraged many, as did this fall’s claim that the team’s “culture is actually damn good” after an 0-5 start.
Some fans, irate over the franchise’s inability to win consistently, began a campaign to get Allen fired, replying with “#FireBruceAllen” to tweets from the Redskins’ social media team. Many employees showed their dissatisfaction by leaving.
“I just don’t understand,” Williams said in a November interview, in which the star tackle was critical of Allen. “In any business world, when the employer has someone who is underperforming, he finds another one. I don’t know in the last 10 years if there is a worse record [for] someone who has held their job for 10 years and performed the way they performed and still have a job. I don’t know. That would be good to look up and [see] just who else is in that company. I would be thrilled to find out.”
Most players backed Allen during Monday morning’s locker room clean-out, including those Allen drafted, such as guard Brandon Scherff and outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, and those he paid handsomely, such as cornerback Josh Norman.
“We had a good relationship,” rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins said. “I’m really sad he had to go.”
Even before the Redskins’ loss Sunday, Allen’s fate appeared to be sealed. Snyder did not stand near him on the field during pregame, and afterward he walked past Allen when leaving the postgame locker room. The men didn’t exchange as much as a glance. Allen was left to walk to the team’s buses outside AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Tex., while Snyder roared away in a five-SUV motorcade with a police escort.
Allen flew home with the team, people with knowledge of the situation said, but when the Redskins’ charter landed at Dulles International Airport at 12:37 a.m. Monday, Allen did not board a team bus to the Redskins’ practice facility, as he often does when he flies with the team. Instead, a private car drove onto the tarmac. Allen got in and rode away from the team he ruled with incredible power for the previous 10 years.
Sam Fortier and Mark Maske contributed to this report.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the Redskins had decided to part ways with director of pro personnel Alex Santos. A team spokesman said that Santos is staying with the team.