- - Tuesday, March 28, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION

Washington Redskins president Bruce Allen has said he felt he needed to fire general manager Scot McCloughan to bring “clarity” to the organization at the start of the new NFL season.

He has done that. If there was any confusion about the Washington Redskins, I would think the execution of McCloughan has brought clarity to this team and what it represents.

Allen lined them up, one by one, Washington reporters who had flown to Phoenix for the NFL’s annual meeting hoping for a chance to ask questions of the team president from the long list they had compiled since the NFL season ended and the Redskins reality show opened its new season.

So many questions, I know. I might have opened with this one.

“So Bruce, has Scot buried his grandmother yet?”

Remember Marie Bessie McCloughan? This poor 100-year-old women died on Feb. 6, and, according to newspaper accounts, was buried on Feb. 13. Yet Allen used her death to explain his general manager’s absence from the NFL scouting combine.

“You know, Scot’s a great guy,” Allen told 104.5 The Fan in Nashville about three weeks after Marie Bessie McCloughan had been laid to rest. “Anyone who knows him knows he’s a great guy. He’s dealing with some family matters right now. His grandmother died a week or so ago. So he’s dealing with that right now.”

To be fair, McCloughan himself cited a death in the family in text messages to reporters to explain his absence from the NFL scouting combine.

But then Allen doubled down on that story in his radio interview, and now it was the official story of the Washington Redskins.

When Allen knew privately that McCloughan was no longer going to be the team’s general manager — made official on March 9 — why even mention the grandmother, now forever part of Redskins lore? Any port in a storm of deceit?

Now you can see why Bruce Allen was called the Prince of Darkness when he was general manager in Tampa.

In some twisted way, did Allen think he was doing McCloughan a favor with this cover story? Protecting him?

In his Baghdad Bob series of interviews with Redskins reporters Sunday in Phoenix, Allen refused to address the anonymous quotes that appeared in the Washington Post that claimed McCloughan’s time as the team’s general manager was “a disaster.”

An MMQB report said that McCloughan was fired because of professional jealousy and infighting between Allen and his general manager.

All this apparently amused Allen and his henchmen.

“I’ve heard some of the rumors and, everyone in the building actually laughs,” Allen said. “There’s been a misportrayal maybe, of what happened.”

The Washington Redskins, always good for a laugh.

How come other NFL teams aren’t as funny?

Funny, the McCloughan anonymous quote was like one of the anonymous quotes that used to appear in the final days of Redskins coach Mike Shanahan in 2013. “Part of that was — let me use the right word — distasteful to hear,” Allen told reporters after announcing the firing of Shanahan.

“Within the Redskins — and I do like that the players say it’s on us, it is on us, it’s on all of us from people in the front office to people on the football field to people in the locker room, it is on us — and to see those anonymous sources and the back-biting and different comments, I think it’s very important to know that a lot of it was untrue, but at the same time it was distasteful.”

Well, somebody at Redskins Park still has a taste for it.

The exit of McCloughan, in some ways, mirrors that of Shanahan. When asked at the Shanahan firing press conference about reports of fractured relationships, Allen responded, “That’s part of the rumors that are out there. Mike has always been professional and we always had an easy dialogue when discussing issues. I don’t think there was a fractured relationship.”

Here’s what Allen told the Washington Post Sunday about reports that his relationship with McCloughan, hired by Allen in January 2015, had deteriorated. “Scot and I had a wonderful relationship,” he said.

To be Bruce Allen’s buddy seems like a way to get fired at Redskins Park.

Thom Loverro hosts his weekly podcast “Cigars & Curveballs” Wednesdays available on iTunes and Google Play.

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