- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 15, 2002

In other places in the sports world, coaches are hired to be fired. At Redskin Park, it's taken one step further. At Redskin Park, coaches are hired to be humiliated.

Norv Turner had to hang around FedEx Field for two hours after coaching his last game with the Redskins, waiting for a meeting with the owner concerning his job status that never took place. Office temps get treated with more consideration than Norv did.

The last few weeks Marty Schottenheimer has been left to twist in the wind while Dan Snyder batted his eyes at Steve Spurrier and Bobby Beathard. Schottenheimer received a pile of dough when he was finally let go, but he was accorded precious little respect, less than your average ballboy.

There should have been embarrassment on both sides about how the whole thing went down. After all, at Marty's swearing in, Snyder had pledged patience and noninterference. But the Redskins owner has no shame. Everything to him is Simply Business. Schottenheimer was one piece of business a venture that, unfortunately, didn't work out and Spurrier is the next piece of business.

During the offseason, a certain news outlet tried to paint Snyder as a kinder, gentler Dan humanized by a cancer scare and more willing, perhaps, to smell the roses. Seems pretty laughable now, now that the Real Snyder has reemerged. Dan, it's clear, hadn't changed, he was merely laying low. Hold on to your Hog noses, though; he's about to release a year's worth of pent-up energy.

Still, give Snyder his due. It's easy to see why he has accumulated such a vast fortune at so early an age. He has a rare ability to get people to do things they probably shouldn't do like trust him. Schottenheimer had reservations about Dan before the two had even met, but the Redskins owner won him over with empty promises and $10 million. And now Spurrier, who resisted Snyder's overtures a year ago, has been sweet-talked into coming to Washington, despite all the upheaval in recent seasons. That, my friends, is a salesman.

But then, Snyder has something to sell, something you can't find just anywhere. He has the biggest stadium in the NFL. He makes the biggest profit in the league cash that can be used to lure free agents. And he has a town that's in love with the Redskins, a town in which pro football is the undisputed king. The Redskins job should be one of the best in all of sports. I mean, who outside of maybe the manager of the New York Yankees has more built-in advantages than the coach of the Washington Redskins?

There's one problem, though. It's about 5 feet, 6 inches tall and prefers to be addressed as "Mister." We're about to enter Year 4 of Dan Snyder's reign of terror, and he's still trying to figure out how he wants to set up the organization, what kind of structure will work best.

When he took over the franchise, he had a coach and a general manager and fired the general manager. Then he had a coach and a player personnel director and got to play GM himself. Then he axed the coach and player personnel director and brought in Schottenheimer to fill both posts. Then he booted Marty out the door and decided to go back to the traditional coach/GM arrangement (with the owner, naturally, having substantial input).

So the Redskins have come full circle or is that they're still running around in circles? A year from now, Snyder may have dreamed up an entirely new setup; he might take over the coaching, if only to save the salary.

At least he learned from last season's mistake and didn't get rid of Schottenheimer until he had another coach ready to take his place. But his continued carelessness with money astounds. Deion Sanders picked his pocket to the tune of $8million, Schottenheimer walked away with $10 million both for one year's service and now he's throwing $25million, the biggest coaching contract ever, at Spurrier, who has never won an NFL game.

Don't worry about Dan, though. He's more than happy to pass these losses consider them educational expenses along to the fans in the form of higher prices.

There's really no reason to feel sorry for Schottenheimer, either. He knew he was making a deal with the devil, and now he has to live with the consequences. As you're well aware, I'm not a big admirer of Marty's. His offense is straight out of the hills of western Pennsylvania three yards and a cloud of coal dust. And when you're charging people what the Redskins are charging them, I'm sorry, you have to give them more than that.

If every coach thought the way Schottenheimer did, the NFL would still be playing in high school stadiums, if not cornfields. OK, that's probably an exaggeration. But I guarantee you this: There wouldn't be any $10million coaching contracts.

Ever since 1933, when the owners got together and said, "We've got to score more points if we're going to get out of the shadow of college football," offense has been the straw that stirs the drink in pro football. But Marty, as he likes to remind us, majored in English, not history.

Look, defense is swell. I'm in awe of what the Ravens do. But it can't just be all about defense. And with Schottenheimer it pretty much is. Trust me, when Spurrier gets the Redskins offense cranked up, when passes start whizzing here, there and everywhere, few people will miss Marty unless their name is Donnell Bennett.

But after this latest unseemly episode, I don't want to ever see the words "class" and "Daniel Snyder" in the same sentence. "Class action," OK, but "class," no.

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