And so on Sunday night he walked. He walked past the loading bay where Snyder's fleet of black SUVs idled. He walked past the Redskins' locker room, where dejected coaches and players were already trickling out. He walked past groups of melancholy Cowboys fans, elated with the victory but discouraged their team did not win the NFC East. He turned left at an opening and walked toward the stadium's door, stopping to hug a guard at the gate.
"I'll talk to you guys tomorrow," he said, when a reporter asked about his future.
Then he pushed open the stadium door and walked out into the chilly north Texas night. Just as he did, a group of police motorcycles roared up the tunnel behind him, leading Snyder's motorcade. Just weeks ago, he would have been inside one of those SUVs. On Sunday, he didn't turn when they rumbled past.
The Redskins could look very different come Monday afternoon. Their record at the end of this decade, Allen's decade as president, is 62-97-1. A 10-year span that started with the promise of Mike Shanahan ended with the team's third coach trying to pull together a team missing eight starters and giving up 517 yards to one of the NFL's best offenses. Sunday wasn't the fault of interim coach Bill Callahan or backup quarterback Case Keenum or any of the players in a defensive secondary that weren't regular starters all season. But the threadbare group that secured the second pick of April's NFL draft was indicative of how far the franchise has tumbled.
"This record is not indicative of the type of locker room this is and the type of talent I think that we had," Keenum said later in a near-empty locker room.
Many of his teammates had said some version of the same thing as the season crashed down with an 0-5 start and the early October firing of coach Jay Gruden. It begged a need for change, and in recent weeks Snyder has plotted a franchise reorganization, several people with knowledge of the situation said. He has met in private with a series of football people who are not inside the organization, and at least some of those meetings have been without Allen, from whom he has increasingly distanced himself over the past two months.
Early Sunday afternoon, more than an hour before the game, Snyder appeared on the AT&T Stadium field, standing on the sideline in front of the Redskins' bench. He used to do this before every game, with Allen at his side, before refusing to come to the field at all and leaving Allen to stand alone. But with this game at the stadium of his friend and rival owner, Dallas's Jerry Jones, Snyder broke his recent pattern, stalking the turf around midfield. Allen stood by himself, some 20 yards away, only coming near Snyder to shake Jones's hand.
The body language between the two was dramatic. People familiar with the way Snyder has approached his offseason plan say he has moved quickly in his search and suggest Allen has not played a significant role in the deliberations. One person with knowledge of Snyder's plan says the owner will "open his checkbook" for Rivera, a highly respected coach who led the Carolina Panthers to 76 wins and a Super Bowl appearance in nine seasons before his Dec. 3 firing.
Another candidate for the coaching job is former Cincinnati Bengals coach and onetime Redskins defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis. Two people with knowledge of the situation said former Ohio State and Florida coach Urban Meyer may take an executive role with the Redskins, though one of those people said Meyer might want a coaching job. Several people with the Redskins have said Meyer is not a candidate for their coaching position.
But none of this seemed to mean much to the Redskins players who dressed fast Sunday night. They had allowed Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott to throw for 303 yards and four touchdowns and gave up another 122 yards to running back Ezekiel Elliott.
"We definitely didn't expect it to go this way," running back Chris Thompson said of the ruined season.
Down the hall, in an interview room, Callahan gave what might be his final news conference as coach. He said he thought he had instilled a strong work ethic since taking over and that the team was "in a deep hole."
"I don't think it's very far," he said when asked how soon Washington could be good.
Soon, he too was heading out of the stadium, toward his own unknown. He rolled a suitcase as he moved down the hall. The change Snyder seems to be planning is coming fast, like a roaring storm blowing out 2019 and the nine years before it, almost before everyone affiliated with this fall's disaster could walk through the door.
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