Twenty years ago was the last time the city of Washington could collectively celebrate, after their Washington Redskins beat the Buffalo Bills, 37-24, on Jan. 26, 1992 in Minneapolis. Mark Rypien walked out of there the MVP, and fans said goodbye to their beloved coaches and players relatively soon.
For those that don’t live in the Washington area or follow their local sports media outlets, this week has been a time to joyously reminisce about the last time the Burgundy and Gold stood tall. Former players like Darrell Green, Jeff Bostic, Gary Clark and Charles Mann, just to name a few, have been quoted or have been a featured guest in the newspapers or local radio shows.
For those who were old enough (I was three) that can distinctly remember the last championship won, I’m sure to hear from former legends of the Redskins family was a pleasure. Although it was extremely informative and eye-opening to listen or read about the “Glory Days," it leaves me absolutely disgusted.
Daniel Snyder has made this team disgusting and utterly miserable to watch upon his ownership. Well, this week had me thinking, as I’m being constantly reminded of the Super Bowl victory 20 years ago, what would I do as owner?
Hmm…how much time do we have?
I wish I could underline one of the words listed above: family. After listening to WJFK’s 106.7 The Fan during the LaVar Arrington Show and listening to former Hog Jeff Bostic emphasize the word “family," those Super Bowl teams were one big fun, entertaining, dysfunctional family that won, and won a lot.
So what would I do? Let’s take Mike Shanahan out of the equation. He’s not going anywhere, nor am I calling for his job at this moment. However, I will say he’s lucky his last name is Shanahan, because if this was some no-name coach, he probably would have been canned, and deservedly so.
Anyway, I would hire former Hog and now Hall-of-Famer Russ Grimm as the team’s head coach.
Why would I want to hire Grimm despite being an obsessed homer? First of all, he’s been a highly-respected assistant coach in both Pittsburgh and Arizona, and I am surprised he has yet to receive a higher position, but that’s not why I want him. I want him because he’s a Redskin, plain and simple.
Russ knows what it takes to win in Washington. He’s a hard-nosed former offensive lineman that will slap that “me-first” mentality off someone, which has been in abundance for over a decade now. No, I don’t expect him to return to the famous counter-trey running play or convince Trent Williams to change the play in the huddle and run at DeMarcus Ware, but most importantly, he’s a part of the Redskins family and has had a special relationship with the organization.
Now that the head coaching position will be taken care of, I would re-hire Charley Casserly to become the general manager again. He’s a football mind that held the same position during the 1992 Super Bowl run and found numerous gems in the draft such as Brian Mitchell, Frank Wycheck, Keenan McCardell, Champ Bailey, LaVar Arrington and Chris Samuels.
Not to mention his unappreciated job in Houston while laying a foundation for a playoff team where players like Mario Williams, Andre Johnson DeMeco Ryans and Owen Daniels all were drafted by Casserly.
Former players such as Darrell Green and Brian Mitchell will be welcomed back to Redskins Park to help coach the secondary and return specialists respectively. With all due respect to the Shanahans and even Jim Zorn for that matter, those guys know the game of football.
Mike Shanahan’s two Super Bowl rings speak volumes, but Kyle Shanahan was an up-and-coming coordinator while in Houston, and even Zorn was one of the most respected quarterback coaches in the NFL. However, the players on the roster have not responded to them.
I can guarantee you that one of the best cornerbacks to ever play the game in Darrell Green would demand respect and his full attention, while his players will be ready to go to war on behalf of their coach. I can guarantee you that one of the best return specialists to ever play in the game in Brian Mitchell would be glad to put someone like Brandon Banks in his place.
You want to know why? Well, this may come as a surprise, but it is because they are Redskins, and once again, the Burgundy and Gold has a bigger meaning than just their job.
What would be my requirements for the players? Well, of course punctuality and being a model citizen, but I want the team to get along. I know it’s hard to develop a level of camaraderie during the free-agent era, but it would seem that the consistent teams out there have that level of friendship.
I’m paraphrasing here, but Jeff Bostic emphasized that point. The Redskins in their successful days really got along as a whole. They were willing to fight for each other because of the relationships they developed on and off the field.
Think of it like this. If I were about to get in a physical altercation, who is going to be the first person to have my back? A friend.
The same goes for football. If the players develop a relationship, they have a greater sense of purpose because they don’t want to let them down and always have one another’s back.
In addition to that, all problems by requirement will be held internally. No more running to the media, Twitter or the forever-enabling ESPN. Just look at a team like the New England Patriots, a team that has held the familial concept for over a decade now. For example, prior to his arrival in New England, duct tape couldn’t even keep Chad Ochocinco quiet.
Now, Ochocinco will be lucky to even record a catch in the Super Bowl, yet he hasn’t made a peep. Any off-the-field distractions, and the Patriots find a solution. The Washington Redskins are the polar opposite of what the mighty Patriots stand for.
My next step in ownership is restoring a good relationship with the fanbase. No more laughable statements about selling out games or “party decks." No more paying for training camp or the outrageous fees for parking at FedEx Field. I would want to Redskins fans to know that I am one of them. I would make myself available for the media and the season ticket holders (think of Ted Leonsis), not this ruthless dictator that has forgotten where he came from.
Speaking of FedEx Field, it is the worst fan experience out of the four major sports in the area (OK, maybe they are tied with the Wizards). While that is not entirely Snyder’s fault—the Skins made the move to Landover before he owned the team—half the stadium is filled up with opposing fans. That’s a complete shame and an embarrassment where I’ve come to the point where I won’t go to games anymore. Overall, they aren’t fun.
Priority No. 1 is to win at all costs. This might be Dan Snyder’s biggest downfall, where he’s capitalizing on the brand of the Washington Redskins rather than putting all strategies aside to win.
You want the Redskins to generate a high profit? That’s easy; just win. You want FedEx Field to have one of the best home-field advantages in the league? Win. I don’t care about jersey sales, nationally televised games or putting up 30 points a game. As long as we win, everything will work out.
Quite often in today’s sports you here the statement “It’s a business." While that may be true in regards to contracts and financial aspects of the organization, however, I never found it to be fully relevant.
Football is a different species. It’s not your standard 9-5 job of course. If teams out there want to succeed, it’s going to take more than just the business side. It’s your life.
I’ve never seen that in Washington. Excluding just a handful of players, I have never seen a collective group of players sacrifice everything to bring home a title. The entire culture needs to change, and that starts from the top.
If I were the owner, you won’t see me on a segway prancing around Ashburn. I’m not going to be in seclusion, sue low-end newspapers for articles written about me and make myself unavailable to virtually everyone.
In order to run a respected franchise, it takes more than someone like Daniel Snyder. It takes scouts to find that irreplaceable undrafted free agent; it takes the equipment and medical staff to make sure each player is ready to go on Sunday. It takes the thousands of fans screaming at the opposing team on third down to where they can’t focus, plus a lot more.
If none of these happen, I can realistically say that the Redskins will never return to the proud franchise they once were. With a little luck and a remedy to get the stick out of Dan Snyder’s ass, it could happen or if anyone wants to loan me a billion-plus dollars. I just hope and pray that I’m alive and well to see it.
What I’ve easily noticed in listening or reading about the former Redskins during their impressive run is the tremendous amount of pride they have. They are prideful for the city of Washington, the accomplishments they made on the field and the friendships that were established.
I understand situations such as that are harder to find these days, but you don’t think they have a similar mentality in Pittsburgh, Green Bay, Baltimore, New England and New York? It’s safe to say yes.