It’s hard for Washington Redskins fans to figure out where their best interests lie these days.
Do they root for their team to win Sunday against Denver, or do they root for it to lose? Do they want their team to try to secure a modicum of respectability? Or do they want a total meltdown, embarrassment and shame so deep that it forces significant change in the way the team operates?
It’s not exactly “Sophie’s Choice,” but no fan should have to choose between whether it is better for a team to win or lose (save for those times when a team is in the final days of the race for the No. 1 draft pick).
This whole dilemma of rooting for change rather than rooting for results is complicated. Did Redskins fans realize Saturday that they should have been rooting against Navy at Notre Dame?
Navy’s victory set in motion the real possibility that Irish coach Charlie Weis will be fired at the end of the season, leaving one of the most coveted jobs in sports open. And according to reports, the leading candidate for the Notre Dame job is one of the speculative saviors out there for Washington: former Tampa Bay coach and current “Monday Night Football” analyst Jon Gruden.
And so suddenly this pool of Super Bowl coaches - so plentiful weeks ago that you couldn’t walk down the street without falling over one - may be shrinking. Gruden may be out of the mix now.
You think that’s confusing for Redskins fans? How about the reality that they should be cheering for the Dallas Cowboys to have a great season - save for losses to the Redskins, of course - and go on to playoff success, though stopping short of a Super Bowl championship? (Some rationales are impossible to live with.)
Consider this: If the Cowboys go deep into the playoffs, it will be difficult for owner Jerry Jones to fire Wade Phillips. Jones may be Dan Snyder’s stiffest competition this winter for a star coach or football operations boss.
There has been speculation that former Denver coach Mike Shanahan, a two-time Super Bowl winner, will become the target of a bidding war between Jones and Snyder. But Jones can’t fire Phillips, who has been seen as a caretaker coach during his time in Dallas, if the Cowboys manage to have their best season since the Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer Super Bowl days. So success in Dallas likely eliminates a rival bidder for the next Redskins coach/football operations chief.
Redskins fans, how ‘bout them Cowboys?
Then there are the Cleveland Browns, who are determined to out-dysfunction the Redskins. Speculation is that coach Mike Holmgren, a Super Bowl winner with Green Bay and three-time participant with the Packers and Seahawks, is a candidate to take a Bill Parcells-like job there to run the entire football operation. But it is difficult to imagine Holmgren working for Snyder after the embarrassment Holmgren’s friend and former assistant, Jim Zorn, has been put through by management.
“The position they put Jim in, it shouldn’t happen,” Holmgren told ESPN Radio in Chicago last week. “You can be upset with me as a play caller or how the team’s going, [then] fire me. But don’t do that. Don’t pull the rug out from under me, tie my hands, make me look foolish… take away what I came there for to do in the first place. Don’t do that.”
That would seem to take Holmgren out of the running to be the Redskins’ football guy unless Snyder somehow can lay all of this at the feet of executive vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato and say he was letting his football guy make the decisions.
No one talks about Bill Cowher anymore. No one ever talks about Brian Billick, the least-respected Super Bowl coach of the bunch. And Tony Dungy seems to be on an entire different career path these days, although maybe his close friend and Washington’s favorite son, broadcaster James Brown, can convince him he has a higher calling at Redskin Park.