I’ve been on enough job interviews to know that one of the biggest factors to weigh when making a career decision is whether the culture of a prospective company jibes with your own. A salary offer will indicate how much you’re valued; what’s often more important is determining if you and management share the same values and long-term vision.
Now imagine if the top brass at a prospective workplace is engaged in a dramatic, ugly power struggle — not for the first time in said company’s recent history — that has generated wild speculation and an outpouring of negative press. Does this sound like a place you’d want to work? NFL free agents, I’m asking you: Why the hell would you want to sign with the Washington Redskins? It’s the first day of free agency, and the team just fired its general manager.
Since Dan Snyder bought the team in 1999, the Skins have been synonymous with franchise dysfunction, to the point that they make James Dolan and the Knicks look like a well-oiled machine. Snyder has overseen egregiously bad coaching hires (Steve Spurrier and Jim Zorn), terrible free-agent signings (Deion Sanders and Albert Haynesworth), and a plethora of avoidable, needless conflicts (vs. City Paper, vs. Native Americans, vs. fans who like decent football stadiums, etc.). To be fair, Washington has had a few respites of normalcy and even hope — e.g., the return of head coach Joe Gibbs (2004–07) and Robert Griffin III’s magical rookie season (2012) — and the most recent period of relative tranquility, which began in January 2015, when Scot McCloughan took over as general manager. “In Scot We Trust,” declared the fan base. For the last two seasons, Washington has actually resembled a competent organization, even posting back-to-back winning records for the first time in the Snyder era.
Fresh off that accomplishment, the Skins entered this offseason free of any major problems. Their main questions strictly concerned personnel: what to do with incumbent quarterback Kirk Cousins and the usual pending free-agent departures. Or so we were led to believe. But the past few weeks of front-office drama have plunged the team into a spiraling mess that would be shocking if it weren’t so familiar. The troubles started when McCloughan was suddenly absent from Redskins Park, and were amplified when he was MIA at the combine. Leaks soon revealed (if nothing else, the Skins are incredible at leaking organizational secrets) an impasse between McCloughan and team president Bruce Allen. Rumors of McCloughan having alcohol issues were circulated on Redskins radio (and not denied by the team). And, of course, as all of this off-field chaos has transpired, the Skins have had to replace both their offensive and defensive coordinators, figure out what to do with their QB (who has recently requested a trade), deal with the loss of two starting receivers, re-up head coach Jay Gruden, and navigate a pricey free-agent market. Oh, and now they have to find a new GM. Insert “this is fine” meme here.
There’s a temptation to take a side in this mess, and popular opinion seems to have painted McCloughan as a martyr and Allen as a petty, power-hungry egomaniac. As a Skins fan, I honestly don’t care who’s at fault, although I can assure you that there is one side nobody is on: The Danny’s. The connective thread through nearly two decades of this fuckery — from Vinny Cerrato to Zorn to Donovan McNabb to RGIII’s slow demise to the Scot-Bruce fiasco — is Snyder. Speaking on behalf of the fan base, I don’t think we can take much more.
As somebody who likes Kirk Cousins, my advice to him is this: Leave this company as fast as you possibly can.
This piece was updated after publication to reflect the news that the Redskins had fired GM Scot McCloughan.