Bruce Allen seemingly was destined to become the general manager of the Washington Redskins, the job he was given Thursday.
As a teenager, Allen nearly was tossed from the sideline during a Redskins game for cursing at the officials - an outburst that caused his father, the coach, to deny knowing him in an effort to avoid a penalty.
As an adult, Allen built the Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that the Redskins victimized for their only playoff victory this decade.
Allen believes passionately in, well, passion - as did his father, George, the Hall of Famer who turned the long-moribund Redskins into winners in the 1970s.
“The greatest thing is the passion, love of what you’re doing,” said Allen, who ran the Oakland Raiders’ front office from 1995 to 2003, then spent five seasons with the Bucs. “I worked at a gas station on Route 7 by Tysons Corner. A car pulls up, and it was [my father]. He didn’t like the way I came out of the gas station. Whatever you’re doing, have a passion for it.”
Asked why he wants to work for owner Dan Snyder, Allen said, “I like Dan for his passion.”
Allen, 53, sounded just like his father when he talked about the key to success.
“The principles of football in my mind are simple,” he said. “It’s a team. It’s 53 men, an entire staff, everybody in the building going in the same direction for one common purpose - and that’s to win.”
Allen wasn’t a big winner with the Raiders (a 72-72 regular-season record with three playoff berths in nine seasons) or the Buccaneers (38-42 with two playoff berths in five seasons). But he did help produce the Raiders’ only Super Bowl team of the past 25 years and the Buccaneers’ only consecutive winning seasons since 2001-02.
Allen is credited with solving the Bucs’ salary cap problems, but in doing so he rid the roster of longtime standouts Warren Sapp, John Lynch and Simeon Rice. He also traded malcontent wideout Keyshawn Johnson for the more productive Joey Galloway and revived the careers of receiver Antonio Bryant and defensive end Stylez White. He did make a crucial move that didn’t pan out when he gave quarterback Chris Simms a huge contract.
The Bucs won the NFC South in 2005 and 2007 but were bounced from the playoffs early each time, scoring a total of just 24 points in home losses to Washington and the New York Giants.
Only one of Allen’s 47 draft picks in Tampa Bay, guard Davin Joseph, has reached the Pro Bowl. And only one of his 34 free agent signings, punter Josh Bidwell, has been so honored.
Allen’s first year with Tampa Bay was his worst. He gave big contracts to past-their-prime veterans - offensive linemen Derrick Deese and Todd Steussie and running back Charlie Garner. And he drafted a bunch of busts, headed by first-round receiver Michael Clayton, who has scored four touchdowns in the past four-plus seasons.
When the Bucs lost their final four games to miss the playoffs last season, Allen and coach Jon Gruden, a prime candidate to coach the Redskins in 2010, were fired.