The strange saga of Scot McCloughan’s exit from Washington began with Chris Cooley speculating about McCloughan drinking and ended with the team firing McCloughan as its G.M. while anonymous sources told reporters that alcohol was, indeed, a factor in McCloughan’s firing. Now Cooley says he’s sorry he ever brought it up.
Cooley, a former Washington tight end who now works for both the team and the Dan Snyder-owned radio station ESPN 980, said on the air Friday that he wishes he hadn’t speculated about McCloughan’s drinking, and added that no one on the team put him up to smearing the now-fired G.M.
“No one told us to do the [original] segment, told me to do the segment,” Cooley said, via the Washington Post. “Can I be more clear on that? We threw out a lot of possible reasons that he could have been silenced. That was one of them. . . . I used Scot McCloughan’s name and alcohol in the same sentence, and I was wrong. I regret that. I have regretted that. This blew up to be way bigger than I expected it to be, and by the way, it blew up in a report that was in no way shape or form the context that we had suggested.”
It’s unclear in what “context” Cooley thinks it would have been appropriate for him to speculate about a person having a drinking problem that affected his job, but he says he has addressed the issue with McCloughan personally.
“I’ve apologized to Scot,” Cooley said. “I feel very sorry that my name’s associated with this. I feel regret that my name’s associated with this. I’ve apologized to the organization.”
Cooley said he didn’t realize at the time he was making the comments how big they would become, and he didn’t realize they would be seen as part of a smear campaign by the team.
“You can call me an idiot, you can call me naive, you can call me ignorant, but I didn’t see this entire firestorm that was created,” he said. “I didn’t. It happened, though. I shouldn’t have mentioned his name and alcohol in any context, especially not me, because of the perception that I have some special access to this team, which by the way, is entirely overrated. . . . But accusing me of being told to float something is like telling me I’m a stupid idiot. . . . I wouldn’t create a sinister plan. I was not part of any of this. I swear on anything you want to swear on.”
McCloughan has still not publicly commented, and the team said it will have no further comment, so at the moment Cooley is the only one talking. And he now wishes he hadn’t opened his mouth in the first place.