The story proclaimed the arrival of saviors Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan at Redskins Park, declaring that finally, after years of failure, Washington owner Daniel Snyder “paired a head coach and general manager whose expertise is beyond reproach.”
But six years earlier, the real savior arrived.
“If you’re a Redskins fan and after what happened with the team, this is the second coming of Joe Gibbs, which is the second coming of the savior,” Hall of Fame fullback John Riggins told USA Today in 2004.
Here’s what the Florida Times-Union wrote two years earlier.
“Longtime Redskins fans say Steve Spurrier’s hiring ranks not far behind the arrival of Vince Lombardi in 1969 or George Allen in 1971 … they want to believe that somehow this relationship will work.”
If you are a Redskins fan who hasn’t been lobotomized from watching this woeful franchise operate for the past 20 years, and still have a grip on reality and some sense of perspective, you have to be watching the arrival of the latest reported savior at Redskins Park — new general manager Scot McCloughan — with your hands covering your eyes.
You recognize that feeling in your gut. It’s very familiar. It was there five years ago, and six years before that, and two years before that.
It’s called hope.
You must hate hope by now.
You hear all the platitudes about McCloughan — apparently, the second coming of Bill Polian — and can’t forget how you’ve been fooled before.
You want to talk about saviors? No one will ever be a greater savior than the second coming of Gibbs, and that produced two playoff appearances but a 30-34 record after four years. And based on what we’ve seen before and after the second Gibbs era, what the three-time Super Bowl winning coach did during his second tenure at Redskins Park looks far better than it did.
We hear that this time, it will be different. According to various reports, McCloughan will have total control over personnel decisions.
Control? No one would have had more control than Gibbs, and yet he kept the clown prince, Vinny Cerrato, around as the team’s personnel boss during his four years.
You think he did that because he thought Cerrato was good at his job?
Control? That’s all we heard when Shanahan — a two-time Super Bowl winning coach — was hired. Yet before he even unpacked the boxes in his office, he was told Donovan McNabb was his new quarterback.
Shanahan arrived at Redskins Park a savior. He left in disgrace.
This time, though, it will be different, we are told. McCloughan will have real, true, honest, absolute player personnel control.
What could go wrong?
I mean, who could have predicted that the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback the Redskins traded their future for — three first-round draft picks and a second — would wind up vacationing with the owner, becoming best buds, and telling the coach with all the control that there are plays he will run and plays he will not? Who could have predicted when Shanahan arrived with Allen as the Redskins “dream front office” that Shanahan would be run out of town by his young quarterback?
What could go wrong this time?
Allen, the other half of that Redskins “dream front office,” told reporters last week in an insulting press conference that he could handle both of his duties — team president and general manager. “It’s not too much on your plate,” he told reporters.
One week later, Allen — who was supposed to protect the football side of the operation from the very relationship between Snyder and Robert Griffin III that torpedoed Shanahan — now has one less food group on his plate of power at Redskins Park.
What could go wrong?
The hiring of McCloughan, described by ESPN as a football savant, a personnel genius who helped build rosters in San Francisco and Seattle, is being widely praised within the football industry. Yet, let’s face it, he was out of work running his own scouting service because of — to be kind — personal demons.
And he is about to enter the seventh circle of hell.
• Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m.daily on ESPN 980 and espn980.com.
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