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HARRIS: Redskins left in limbo over $7 million question

- The Washington Times - Monday, December 9, 2013

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Let's play Jeopardy! We'll take The Obvious for $2,000, please, Alex.

Answer: Gone.

Question: What is Mike Shanahan?

While we figure out ways to spend the easy money, we'll also try to explain that even though the answer is obvious, it isn't as simple as it sounds.

It has become increasingly clear in recent weeks, underscored by Sunday's embarrassing beatdown by the Kansas City Chiefs, that Shanahan is done as coach of the Redskins. We thought earlier in the season he deserved a chance to coach next season, the final year of his five-year, $35 million contract. No longer. This team has gone off the deep end, quit as emphatically as a team can quit, and Shanahan frankly looks and sounds like a guy who has done the same.

The story that ESPN's Dan Graziano — a former colleague and top-notch reporter — broke Sunday about Shanahan cleaning out his office and being ready to quit after the playoff game last season? We have no proof, but we're willing to bet all of our Jeopardy! winnings and then some that it came straight from Shanahan or someone in his camp. There's no doubt the story is true. Graziano doesn't throw stuff against the wall to see what sticks.

The timing is extremely interesting.

Put it all together and you've got a lame-duck coach. That is as obvious as D.C.'s inability to handle snow and ice.

So why isn't it simple? Count to seven million and you'll have your answer.

Shanahan is a strong-willed individual with a massive ego. It doesn't make him a bad person or The Lone Ranger in the coaching profession. You need a good dose of both to have any success in that business and, while it may have been eons ago, Shanahan did have some success.

Redskins owner Dan Snyder is a strong-willed individual with a massive ego. While that doesn't make him a bad person or The Lone Ranger among team owners, it does create a smidge of a conflict over the exit strategy.

By likely leaking a damaging story and by producing an on-field product that is dreadful to watch, Shanahan is doing his level best to get fired. Sure, Sunday's weather played a large part in keeping some folks away from FedEx Field. If this team was worth watching, Skins fans would have found a way to brave the weather. This edition? Why bother?

Why not just quit? Go back to the $7 million that Shanahan is owed for the final year of his contract. If he walks, he doesn't get the money.

Snyder, no fool, is no doubt aware of what's happening. If he can wait for Shanahan to get so fed up that he quits, Snyder doesn't have to pay out that load of cash.

Michael Phillips of the Richmond Times-Dispatch was on 106.7 The Fan on Monday morning and he called it a $7 million game of chicken. We can't say it any better.

So what is the end game? Who blinks first? If Snyder dares Shanahan to quit and Shanahan doesn't, then what? Another year of this nonsense, this dysfunction, this weekly soap opera?

Not acceptable under any circumstances.

Ideally, what will happen is Snyder and Shanahan will meet and meet soon. Maybe this week. Snyder will say go now, immediately and I'll pay you half of next year's salary and you'll like it. If you don't, you'll be 200 years old before you collect a penny because I'll sue you for breach of contract. The only evidence I'll need is tape of these last few games.

Shanahan will say thanks and pack up his office again. He said during his Monday press conference it wouldn't take long. All he has in there are two notebooks and an iPad. He'll move on to whatever is next.

Someone will be named interim coach; it doesn't really matter who at this point. Jim Haslett? Raheem Morris? Bobby Turner? Pick one out of a hat, play the final three weeks — hopefully with a little effort — and then go about the business of finding the next coach who says he can handle Snyder's meddling only to find out a few years later he can't.

That would be the easiest and best way to clean up the current mess. But let's take our next Jeopardy! turn and take Predictable for $2,000.

Answer: The franchise that never makes it easy.

Question: What is the Redskins?

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