In many American workplaces, an employee who fears being fired will quit pre-emptively. For an NFL coach, that maneuver comes with a cost.
Specifically, the coach will say bye-bye to his buyout.
For Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, the word emerging as he closes in on getting fired with a year left on his contract is that he almost quit. In January.
According to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com, Shanahan cleaned out his office prior to the wild-card playoff game against the Seahawks, due to the relationship between owner Daniel Snyder and quarterback Robert Griffin III. Per Graziano, “Shanahan had grown tired of the way Snyder empowered Griffin and openly esteemed him above all other players.”
If it’s true, Shanahan shouldn’t be surprised. Snyder has a habit of striking friendships with players, including for example former running back Clinton Portis, who (as we heard it a few years back) openly disrespected former coach Jim Zorn, without consequence.
While the online version of the latest report points out that Redskins spokesman Tony Wyllie terms the report “ridiculous,” the on-air summary of it by Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen contained no such caveat. ESPN’s Tom Jackson later noted that Shanahan simply declined comment — which potentially implies plenty.
Also implying plenty is the fact that Schefter once wrote a book with Shanahan. If the report were indeed ridiculous (and/or if Shanahan didn’t want the report to surface), Shanahan could have/should have/would have contacted Schefter to say so, and to ask that the story be killed — or at least to ask that the team’s position be prominently disclosed when the report is discussed on the air.
The fact that such a big story was reported by Graziano, who is identified at ESPN.com as the reporter who covers the New York Giants (who doesn’t have to deal with the Redskins going forward), invites even more speculation regarding how this all came to light, and regarding whether there was an effort to keep Schefter’s fingerprints (and in turn Shanahan’s) off of it.
Regardless of how the dots connect as to the latest report out of Washington, here’s how the dots connect going forward. Snyder is going to fire Shanahan. We wouldn’t be surprised if it happens later today, if the Redskins lose to the Chiefs.
Really, what else is Snyder going to do? He’s been openly disrespected. If that was enough to prompt Joe Pesci to riddle Spider with bullets, it’s enough to get Snyder to fire Shanahan.
At a minimum, it’s enough to get Snyder to angrily demand answers as to how in the hell this got reported, setting the stage for a showdown between a pair of strong-willed, wealthy men.
And here’s where it could get even more interesting. Snyder could try to fire Shanahan with cause, stiffing Shanahan out of his $7 million for 2014. It wouldn’t be the first time Shanahan was blocked from a buyout, and if Snyder can prove that Shanahan was involved in leaking the story, maybe Snyder can convince the Commissioner to side with the Redskins.
Regardless, it’s now clear that Shanahan wants out. And if this maneuver doesn’t work, maybe he should spill strawberry sauce all over Sammy Baugh’s uniform and/or drag the three Lombardi Trophies around the parking lot by the bumper of Shanahan’s car.