- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 21, 2002

A long time ago, in a bygone era, a former high school football coach from Massachusetts wrote Washington Redskins coach George Allen looking for a job. Actually, the young coach with no NFL experience wrote every team, but only two gave him a look and the Redskins were one of them.

George Allen was a man who believed in desire, so he listened to the young coach's offer to come to Washington and do anything he could to be part of the franchise. Of course, he wasn't willing to pay Charley Casserly anything, but that wasn't important to Casserly. It was a chance to be close to greatness.

The story of Charley Casserly, now general manager of the expansion Houston Texans who returns to Washington when the Redskins face the Texans tomorrow at FedEx Field, is the story of the glory days of the Redskins the connection from George Allen to Joe Gibbs.

As the franchise falls deeper and deeper into the pit that owner Dan Snyder is digging, all we have in Washington are memories and stories. Casserly's tale is worth telling one more time, to remember an era when the success of the franchise wasn't measured by merchandise sales.

"I had written to all 28 teams and got 22 responses. Out of those, I got 20 rejections and two interviews, one with the Patriots and Chuck Fairbanks and one with George Allen. I was thrilled at the time to just get answers. I was thrilled to have the autographs of great people like Don Shula, Bart Starr and Chuck Noll.

"George Allen was my hero, and here I was getting a chance to meet the guy. The first thing he said was, 'Write up three ways you can help the Redskins.' I'm thinking, 'Wait a minute, Coach. You've got this backwards. You're supposed to help me. How I am going to help you? I'm a high school coach from Massachusetts.'

"I wrote up my three ways. We spent quite a bit of time together, and at the end he told me he wanted me to go home and rewrite the three ways I could help the Redskins in more detail, what I haven't done in football, what I'd like to do and what changes I would make in the National Football League.

"These were his standard three questions for everyone he interviewed, but I didn't know that at the time. I went home and wrote it up and mailed it to him. I met with the Patriots the next week, and they offered me a position. I talked to the Redskins, and they offered me a position, too. The position was to work for nothing. I worked eight months for nothing until I got a scouting contract.

"In April 1977, I wrote the letter. In May 1977, I had the interview and came here the end of June 1977. I lived at the YMCA in Alexandria for $8 a night until training camp started.

"At training camp, I was the 'gofer,' among other things. I answered the phones. I was the 'Turk' in training camp. I had to run errands. I had to work in the public relations office because we only had one person in that department. And I worked in scouting. I did preseason scouting. I did film breakdowns. I did a little bit of everything. George left in January 1978, and I was hired in February as a scout."

Casserly would leave his imprint on the three Redskins Super Bowl championship teams, scouting such players as Joe Jacoby and Jeff Bostic. He was promoted to assistant general manager in 1982 and, after taking over in 1989, was the architect of the 1991 team that went on to win the Super Bowl.

He left after Snyder picked wrong between which man, Casserly or coach Norv Turner, would stay shortly after Snyder took over the team in 1999. A year later, Houston owner Robert McNair picked Casserly to be the man to build his new franchise.

Charley Casserly's tale is the essence of patience and consistency a period of 20 years with the Redskins, from gofer to general manager. That couldn't happen today, not under the Snyder regime where patience is a vice, not a virtue.

Of course, Snyder could take a step in the right direction by inviting every high school coach in America to write him a letter explaining three ways they could help the Redskins. It's clear that Steve Spurrier could use all the help he can get with those complicated NFL adjustments, such as tackling and holding onto the ball.

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