“With the hiring of Bruce Allen, you know he has a plan in place, he knows how to build a winner,” Redskins linebacker and defensive captain London Fletcher said at the time. “So I feel like it’s a good step in the right direction for us as an organization, for us as a team, and I’m just anxious to see how things unfold.”
Fletcher was right to feel anxious. The Redskins were 62-100-1 during Allen’s tenure, which will be remembered more for the things he said than what he accomplished over the past decade.
“We had the Harvest Fest at FedEx Field.”
In December 2014, with the Redskins in the midst of their worst 20-game stretch (3-17) since 1964 and franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III benched in favor of Colt McCoy, Redskins radio voice Larry Michael asked Allen about the team’s focus ahead of a game against the Colts.
“A lot of things off the field this week,” Michael said. “Is this team ready to go?”
“Yeah, you know, we had a lot of great things off the field,” Allen responded. “We had the Harvest Fest at FedEx Field. We had a great event in Richmond on Friday helping some people who need some help. Our team is focused. We’re hungry for a win. And it’s going to be a tough challenge today.”
Washington failed to harvest much of anything in its 49-27 loss at Indianapolis.
“Winning off the field.”
After the Redskins finished the 2014 campaign 4-12 in Jay Gruden’s first year at the helm, Allen took questions during a rare (for him) end-of-season news conference. His answers were memorable, to say the least, and again focused on the organization’s charity endeavors.
“It eats away at your core when you lose,” Allen said of the team’s struggles. “But we’re going to make sure everyone understands that that’s not acceptable, and that everybody is working together in order to get success on the football field and off the football field. I do think our charitable foundation does a fantastic job. We’re winning off the field. But we’ve got to start winning on the field.”
The Redskins won nine games the following season and haven’t sniffed double-digit wins since.
“It’ll work itself out.”
Heading into the 2016 offseason after a home loss to the Green Bay Packers in the first round of the playoffs, Allen expressed confidence that the Redskins would come to terms with quarterback Kirk Cousins on a long-term contract. Cousins enjoyed a breakout season in 2015, smashing several single-season franchise records in the process.
“Kirk wants to be a Washington Redskin, and we want Kirk to be a Redskin,” Allen said.
Cousins would play the 2016 season on the franchise tag.
“I don’t think it’s as complicated as everyone wants to make it.”
That was Allen during an interview with The Team 980 in February 2017, on the subject of a potential long-term contract for Cousins, who had another impressive season in 2016.
“We’ll get together with his agent, and I’m sure we’ll come to an agreement,” Allen added.
Narrator: They would not come to an agreement.
After the deadline to sign Cousins to a long-term deal passed in July 2017, Allen read a six-paragraph statement to a handful of reporters at Redskins Park.
“Despite our repeated attempts, we have not received any offer from [Kirk’s] agent this year,” Allen said. “[Kirk] has made it clear that he prefers to play on a year-to-year basis. While we would have liked to work out a long-term contract before this season, we accept his decision.”
Allen didn’t take any questions, so people were left to wonder why he repeatedly mispronounced his franchise quarterback’s name as “Kurt.” Cousins played a second season in Washington on the franchise tag before signing a three-year deal with the Vikings in March of 2018.
“It means you’re close."
For the first time in nearly 600 days, Allen took questions from reporters at this year’s Senior Bowl in January. He also provided a delusional assessment of the state of the franchise.
“We’re in the middle of the pack, and we’ve been in the middle of the pack the last three seasons,” Allen said after Washington’s second consecutive 7-9 season. “It means you’re close. It means you’re close to being better. We have to find the right ingredients and right chemistry to do that.”
“You know, the culture is actually damn good.”
That’s what Allen said during the news conference to announce Jay Gruden’s firing after an 0-5 start this season.
“These people care,” Allen continued. “We have a very young core of players that we have brought in here who are accustomed to winning. If you look at the record of these guys they’re accustomed to winning. They want to win.”
“I’ll talk to you guys tomorrow.”
That was Allen’s response when a reporter asked about the reports of his changing role as he left AT&T Stadium on Sunday night. The next time Allen talks, it won’t be as a Redskins employee.
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