Frustrated with what he deemed special treatment of quarterback Robert Griffin III by owner Daniel Snyder, Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan reportedly cleaned out his office and nearly resigned following the 2012 NFL season.
A source close to the situation told ESPN's Dan Graziano that Shanahan, whose job security has come under scrutiny this season, had soured so much on Snyder that he was ready to walk away even before the Redskins' playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks.
The source claims Snyder's buddy-buddy relationship with his franchise quarterback poisoned the locker room culture and alienated the other players.
UPDATE: Sunday, Dec. 15, at 11:05 a.m. ET
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports Shanahan will not resign as head coach of the Redskins:
Mike Shanahan will not resign from his job and would like to return to Washington next season as long as he can run team the way he wants.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 15, 2013
Mike Shanahan intends to sit down Dan Snyder at end of year to see if they can work out arrangement that works for both sides next season.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 15, 2013
---End of update---
Graziano claims Shanahan privately told friends that Snyder's behavior was a "complete farce" and that he could not build a long-term winner with the meddlesome Redskins owner. The 61-year-old coach, lured to Washington by a $35 million offer in 2010, felt Snyder deified Griffin and blatantly preferred him over other players.
Examples of special treatment included having a security team go with Griffin when he went out on the town and Snyder's personal driver picking up Griffin's then-fiancee, Rebecca Liddicoat, at road games in 2012. Shanahan also allegedly grew frustrated with Snyder's apathetic treatment of other players.
Graziano cites last season's 38-21 victory over the Browns, in which Kirk Cousins replaced the injured Griffin, as an inciting incident. The source claims that coaches observed Snyder coddling and speaking to Griffin while completely ignoring Cousins.
The bad blood from Shanahan's side had gotten so damaging that he cleared out his office prior to the Redskins' Wild Card Round loss to the Seahawks and was going to walk regardless of how the season ended.
However, when Griffin tore his ACL in the fourth quarter—an injury for which Shanahan has received blame from media and fans—Shanahan changed his mind because of how such a move would be perceived.
In the months since that injury, there has been widespread speculation about the relationship between Shanahan and his quarterback. Whether the two get along is still subject to debate, but Graziano points out that Shanahan blames Snyder—not Griffin—for whatever special treatment has been given.
Team spokesperson Tony Wyllie denied the story, calling it "ridiculous." Shanahan refused to comment, but Mark Maske of The Washington Post reports he will address the situation after Week 14's game against the Kansas City Chiefs:
Wyllie said Shanahan will address the report after today's game.— MarkMaske (@MarkMaske) December 8, 2013
Meanwhile, Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report reports there is suspicion that Shanahan is behind the leaks:
Hearing same thing others are reporting: Washington management, including Snyder, believe Shanahan is source of leaks.— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) December 8, 2013
Maske and Jason Reid of The Washington Post had more details on how the report was received within the Redskins organization:
According to those people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic, some in Redskins management were angered by a report that Shanahan considered quitting his job after last season because of Snyder’s relationship with Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. Some Redskins officials questioned the timing and motivation behind those sentiments becoming public, the people with knowledge of the situation said, and added that a parting of the ways between the team and Shanahan appears increasingly likely.
“I don’t know that it can be fixed now,” one of those people said.
Multiple people with knowledge of the thinking of Redskins officials said members of the team’s management wonder whether Shanahan is hopeful of leaving the organization to be a candidate for the Houston Texans’ head coaching vacancy.
Washington entered Sunday with a 3-9 record, a far cry from last season's NFC East winners and fell to 3-10 after being blown out by Kansas City by a score of 45-10. Following the game, Shanahan addressed the reports, via Pro Football Talk and the Redskins on Twitter:
Mike Shanahan doesn't deny ESPN report: "It’s not the right time or place to talk about my relationship with Daniel Snyder."— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) December 8, 2013
Maske reported on Monday, Dec. 9, the Redskins could attempt to withhold payment from Shanahan should they choose to part ways:
The Washington Redskins were sorting through their options Monday regarding Coach Mike Shanahan and one of the possibilities is firing Shanahan for cause and attempting to withhold the money due to him for the remainder of his contract, according to multiple people familiar with the situation.
Griffin, still recovering from knee reconstruction, has scuffled in his sophomore NFL season, and it's unclear whether Snyder is considering moving on from Shanahan.
Griffin has already more than doubled his interception total from 2012 as Shanahan has attempted to shield his quarterback from taking damaging hits in read-option plays. As a result, Griffin's rushing numbers are noticeably down, and he's yet to score on the ground thus far.
Griffin's regression, the cratering of the Washington defense and numerous off-field rumors have led to a nightmarish season for Shanahan. The two-time Super Bowl winner will finish with a losing record for the third time in four seasons in 2013—a far cry from what Snyder expected when paying him top dollar.
In a season full of distractions on the Beltway, this latest report certainly won't help build rapport between the two parties.