In the end, it doesn’t matter whether Daniel Snyder fires Mike Shanahan, Shanahan resigns or Bruce Allen emerges from his cubicle, sees his shadow and reminds everyone he still is affiliated with this team.
The coach doesn’t matter. The general manager certainly doesn’t matter, not since that position was defanged. After hiring seven coaches in 14 years — and losing six and counting — the problem isn’t the coach with the large ego or the spoiled rotten quarterback or Albert Haynesworth or Donovan McNabb or Jim Haslett or Kyle Shanahan or Keith Burns. The problem is the owner. I’ve said this before: The call is coming from inside the house.
And no matter how many fans turn to e-mail, message boards and talk radio to declare that Washington needs a new owner, they are simply whistling for a wind. It’s not going to happen.
Snyder owns the team, and if you think public pressure or media scrutiny or NFL punishments or the disdain of his fellow owners is going to pressure him into selling, you are, well, I believe the clinical word is “nuts.” The more criticism Snyder gets, the more he digs in his heels. Imagine the divots in the carpet of the owner’s box this season.
I admit, I drank the Kool-Aid when Snyder hired Shanahan and Allen: I thought the owner had wised up, that he had looked at some of the most successful owners in the league for role models to emulate — you know, the owners who hire good people, show up on Sunday and enjoy the show; not, say, Jerry Jones, whom Snyder appears to have been using as a mentor for far too long. It’s not surprising he and Jones were the ones who tried to pull a fast one on the NFL with their salary cap sleight of hand. I still think they were unfairly punished, but the NFL clearly does not, and the ton of bricks that came down on Snyder has cost this team dearly.
But apparently, while Snyder appeared to be taking a hands-off approach, that wasn’t the case where Robert Griffin III is concerned. We’ve all seen Snyder’s need to rub elbows with stars, his own or otherwise, and even if he had good intentions, Griffin — with his charisma and marketability — must have seemed irresistible to a man with little charisma and a love for marketing. So this is who Snyder is, and any new coach will have to accept this fact.
I moved to Washington when D.C. street cleaners were still finding the occasional piece of confetti from the 1992 Super Bowl parade. I’ve never seen this franchise at its very best, but I’ve been dismayed to watch it sink to the level it reached Sunday — and that was against the team for which I root. Washington fans are passionate and loyal, and they deserve better. They simply aren’t going to get it.
The pattern is well established now. Snyder likes a “name” coach, but what kind of coach, “name” or otherwise, is Snyder going to attract? This assumes, of course, that Shanahan is not going to return for the 2014 season. If half the reports of squabbling are true, that seems a safe assumption. In fact, he might not finish the 2013 season.
However, the timing hardly matters. Once again, we’re going to sit through a coaching search. Once again, Snyder will go after his “A” list, the high-profile guys making good money working in TV booths, the ones who’ve watched the disaster this team has become and want no part of it. Then he’ll go to his “B” list, guys who know how it’s going to end but might be swayed by the money. (After all, if you’re dating a man who has been married seven times in 14 years, you’re a fool if you think that you’re the one for whom he’s been waiting.) These guys will figure, “What the heck? How bad could it be for a few years? And then I will have dough to put my kids through college.”
And we’ll start this circle of nonsense all over again. Wasn’t it a relief last year — during those weeks between the bye and the ill-fated decision to put Griffin back into the playoff game despite his injury — not to be worried about coaching changes and new systems and Griffin’s health and all this other malarkey?
“Constantly, I come to these press conferences and get asked questions about non-football things,” Griffin said Sunday. “I’m getting frustrated.”
Bad news, kid: There is a lot of that going around. And there is no cure in sight.
For more by Tracee Hamilton, visit washingtonpost.com/hamilton.
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