Vinny Cerrato left the building, and Bubba Tyer was in the building. All this was good news for Washington Redskins fans.
“Bubba Tyer’s in the house,” Bruce Allen, the club’s new executive vice president of football operations and general manager and the son of former Redskins coaching icon George Allen, declared at a news conference Thursday.
Acknowledging the former Redskins trainer, a longtime fixture, Allen grinned and said, “Hello, Bubba.”
And with that, Allen probably won over Redskins fans just as simply as Jim Zorn angered them when he referred to the team’s “maroon and black” colors upon his introduction nearly two years ago.
It was a you-had-me-at-hello kind of moment.
Hours earlier, Cerrato, the departed executive vice president of football operations, gave fans one last example of what made him such a despised and polarizing figure.
In his resignation statement, Cerrato basically declared Jim Zorn dead to him.
“I’ve had the pleasure of working with some great coaches, such as Joe Gibbs, Greg Blache and Sherman Lewis,” Cerrato said.
No mention of the coach he hired - Zorn.
The loss of such a petty, insecure man instantly made the Redskins a better organization.
And the presence of the likable Allen, who seems very much connected to the passion of Redskins fans, might make the franchise better - depending on who his dance partner is.
“If you told me 35 years ago I’d be standing here in new Redskins Park, I don’t think I would have bet on that,” Allen said. “But it’s exciting because of the history, the tradition, the comfort about coming home. What makes it a good fit is I want to be in a place with tradition. The fact that I can recite most of the media guide to you probably made it even more exciting.”
If we take owner Dan Snyder at his word - Allen, he says, has the authority to make the football decisions, always a source of contention under Snyder - the Redskins accomplished at least one thing Thursday: The club now will face only the normal roadblocks to success.
Allen’s arrival and Cerrato’s departure might make fans feel better, but his presence is no guarantee the franchise will rise above the mediocrity in which it has wallowed for 10 years now.
His record as a talent evaluator as general manager of the Raiders and Buccaneers is a mixed bag of success and woeful failures. But now, at least, the dysfunction that permeates Redskin Park might disappear.
Will that translate to a new era of success on the field? Hard to say until the Redskins make one more key addition - a new head coach.
Asked about speculation that his partner in Oakland and Tampa Bay, former coach Jon Gruden, will join him in Washington, Allen said, “We don’t have an opening at that position.”
Technically, they don’t.
Zorn said, “We hope to have many conversations and hope we can be compatible.”
They would have to be awfully compatible - Laurel and Hardy compatible - for Zorn to have a chance to stay.
That’s not going to happen.
Allen said he met with Zorn and that “we’re going to have some more meetings to discuss the future.”
To be fair to Cerrato, nearly everyone operated on Thursday as if Zorn didn’t exist.
Speculation that Gruden would leave his current job with ESPN in the “Monday Night Football” booth to join Allen with Washington ran rampant.
There was no factual basis for the speculation, just assumptions resting on the shared past of Allen and Gruden. Just last month, ESPN announced Gruden had signed a multiyear contract extension to stay with the network.
There also was speculation that former Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan would replace Zorn when the season ends and work with Allen.
Wishful thinking? Perhaps.
Once the euphoria of Cerrato’s departure passes, a new reality will set in: Unless the franchise adds a powerful, high-profile coach with an influential voice in the organization, the highlight of Bruce Allen’s career with the Redskins might be recognizing Bubba Tyer.