Pretty much every aspect of the way Washington has handled the Scot McCloughan situation makes the organization look bad. If it’s true that he was fired due to an alcohol relapse, they shouldn’t have leaked unflattering details to the Washington Post. If alcohol issues were a pretext for firing a man who otherwise was performing his job in an acceptable manner, it’s beyond shameful.
There’s one important fact that suggests the latter view is the accurate one. Less than a month before Washington hired McCloughan, ESPN The Magazine published an article in which McCloughan admitted that he still uses alcohol.
“I’d think to myself, ‘OK, Scot, why not have a beer? It never affected your life before; you went from being an area scout to being General Manager,” McCloughan told Seth Wickersham. “Don’t touch the vodka, don’t touch the hard stuff. But if you want to have a beer, have a beer.’ So that’s where I got to. I stopped going to AA. . . . If I was an alcoholic and had a beer, I’d have two, then four, then six, then . . . you know, you can’t stop. I can. I can have a beer and I’m fine. I don’t need any more.”
McCloughan ordered a beer while meeting with Wickersham for the interview on which the profile was based.
The article carries a date of December 12, 2014. On January 7, 2015, Washington hired McCloughan.
Either they affirmatively knew that McCloughan was still using alcohol when he was hired, or they engaged in one of the worst background checks in the history of the NFL. Regardless, McCloughan didn’t have a “relapse” while with Washington; he was still drinking when he walked through the door.
And then, with power taken from Bruce Allen and given to the new arrival, McCloughan presided over the team’s first back-to-back winning seasons since 1996-97.
Regardless of how this will play out before the Commissioner and/or in a court of law, the decision to fire a guy for drinking when he was hired while drinking seems inherently, and grossly, unfair. If McCloughan’s drinking progressed to the point that the relationship could not continue, Washington should either have gotten him help or accepted the fact that, when signing him to a four-year contract, they knew damn well that this could happen.
Instead, they’ve tossed him out the same door for drinking through he entered while still drinking. That’s no way to run any responsible business, and the team deserves every ounce of criticism it’s getting from the media, and more.