May 22, 2010

2010 Offseason As Seen From Afar

This is a strange time of year for the gridiron obsessed.  Free Agency has dwindled to a trickle and the occasional second (third?) tier signing. The NFL Draft is a memory.  Training camp is still a couple months away.  It would be easy, if one was to allow it, to lose sight of the seismic shift that has taken place in the world of the Washington Redskins. 

At the very top, Daniel Snyder is still the owner.  Beyond that, however, not much remains of the previous administration ... or even the previous several.

Departed, unlamented de facto General Manager Vinny Cerrato, tragi-comic symbol of the dysfunction that has befallen the storied Redskins brand since Jack Kent Cooke died in 1997 ... gone. In his place, Bruce Allen, legacy, son of former Redskins Hall of Fame Head Coach George Allen.

Bruce Allen may not be a reputation superstar quite on the level of the Indianapolis Colts' Bill Polian or even Baltimore's Ozzie Newsome, but is generally respected both in and out of the game.  He is, in short, the "real GM" Redskins fans loudly and consistently have called for over recent years.  This transition is also the biggest surprise in recent years---no one saw Cerrato's departure coming. 

Former Head Coach and quasi-granola Jim Zorn, as likable as they come but clearly not ready for the big headset handed to him two years ago ... gone.  In his place, Mike Shanahan, future first-ballot Hall of Fame Head Coach. 

Yes that Mike Shanahan.  The one with the two Super Bowl titles.  The list of NFL head coaches who have won two or more Super Bowls is special enough: Vince Lombardi, Don Shula, Chuck Noll, Tom Landry, Bill Walsh, Joe Gibbs, Bill Parcells, Jimmy Johnson, Bill Belichick and Mike Shanahan.

Know who has won two in a row? 

Vince Lombardi, Don Shula, Chuck Noll, Bill Walsh, Jimmy Johnson, Bill Belichick ... Mike Shanahan.

If the words "Mount" and "Rushmore" don't at least flit across your mind, they probably should.

May 5, 2010

A Word on Karl Swanson

Few men I have met support the old adage "I would rather be respected than liked" better than Karl Swanson.

The Washington Redskins long-time Senior Vice President of Public Relations and owner Daniel Snyder's top lieutenant at Redskins Park, Swanson stepped down from his position this week.

Much has been written about Swanson over the years, precious little of it flattering. On a scale of 1 to 10 on the Liked Scale, I think it's safe to say Karl Swanson would barely move the needle.  What I find amusing about that is, in the privacy of his own mind, I think that might just please him.

Karl doesn't do maudlin so I wouldn't go there even if I thought it appropriate. But I do think he might appreciate this little vignette, as recalled through the eyes of someone who was paying attention ...

The initial meeting between internet fan site Extremeskins ("ES") and the Washington Redskins happened to fall on the day the Redskins' 2005 regular season schedule was announced.

I was one of four ES representatives on hand that day, and if memory serves, there were somewhere in the neighborhood of ten Redskins reps. 

Three of us ES types were at the big conference table (the fourth opted for an easy chair off to one side—that's how he rolls), along with three or four team Suits and a couple of intern types.

Arrayed around the room, standing against the walls and in front of the big picture windows overlooking the practice field, were another half-dozen or so team reps, wearing everything from $2500 suits to $25 polos.

And against one wall, by himself, in business casual and comfortably ensconsed in an easy chair, was Karl Swanson. I'm pretty sure he had an unlit cigar in his hand whole time, but that could just be memory filling in the blanks with what the minds' eye says should have been there.

Karl didn't have much to say that day. Which was understandable, given it was he who brokered the meeting and got that unlikely assemblage in the room in the first place. If the merger was going to work, the fanboys and the Suits were going to have to be able to find common ground.  Only so much Swanson could do at that point, and I had the impression he was simply sizing up and assessing the interaction between the message board geeks and the professional football franchise.

Or I suppose he could have just been bored out of his mind ...