- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Washington Redskins spokesman Karl Swanson said Steve Spurrier’s resignation announcement yesterday was “totally unexpected.”

After that, Swanson was rushed to a local hospital for an emergency nose job, so he would be able to fit it through the door at Redskin Park.

Unexpected? Are you kidding?

You want unexpected? A Redskins coach who lasts more than two years.

Am I being unfair? A little too hard on Dan Snyder? I’m sure his sycophants will say this time it wasn’t the owner’s fault. He was willing to stick with Spurrier. It was the Ball Coach who made this call.

Nose jobs for everyone, please.

Everything that has happened to this franchise — all the embarrassment, all the losing, all of the turmoil — is the responsibility of Snyder.

He created an atmosphere of failure. If Spurrier had any chance of succeeding as an NFL coach — and I doubt he did — it wasn’t going to happen with the Redskins, a dysfunctional franchise whose owner pays a quarterback guru $25million to coach the team but then decides himself who will be the backup quarterback.

We heard when Spurrier was hired that this time things would be different. Snyder inherited Norv Turner, so that wasn’t his coach. He was forced into hiring Marty Schottenheimer to prove to his critics that he wasn’t a meddling owner. Finally, Snyder was going to hire his coach.

Well, his coach was a lousy NFL coach.

Snyder wasn’t alone in his belief Spurrier would be a prize catch. Other teams, like the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, had long eyed Spurrier while he was running a winning program at the University of Florida. And there was no shortage of qualified football people, such as former Packers general manager Ron Wolf, to speak of Spurrier’s brilliance and the likelihood of his success in the NFL.

If Spurrier is a genius, he must be a warm weather genius, because he looked like a fool many times during his two-year tenure as Redskins coach.

He failed to prepare, convinced that his Fun ‘n’ Gun system could handle anything a defense would throw at it. As a consequence, his teams played as if they were unprepared.

He showed no organizational abilities, and his own players spoke up after the season about a lack of discipline on the team — an atmosphere fostered by Spurrier’s lackadaisical attitude.

“There has got to be discipline,” said linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, who cited players showing up late for practice and other transgressions. “And it’s not just on the football field. Our problem goes way beyond the field.”

To which Spurrier replied, “We haven’t had that problem. That’s not true.”

While we’re at it, throw in a nose job for Spurrier, too.

And then there was this one from the coach in his statement of resignation: “I’ve enjoyed my time in Washington. Obviously, all of the losing can wear you down, but I believe that the franchise is headed in the right direction.”

It’s going to take a team of plastic surgeons to do that job.

Speaking of nose jobs, what spin will Snyder take in this latest search for a coach, who will be the fifth one since Snyder took over the team in 1999? He’s done the nonmeddling thing, the “my coach” thing.

Is he ready to do a Jerry Jones and finally admit that a wise man is a man who knows he knows nothing — at least about football — and change the way the Redskins’ football operation is run?

He will have to do that — promise a fundamental management change — if he hopes to entice a big-name coach like a Dennis Green or Jimmy Johnson. (Not that I see Johnson as a candidate, since he was a close friend and mentor of Norv Turner and, it turns out, a confidant of Spurrier. Jimmy heard firsthand all of the stories from those who have had to deal with Snyder).

A candidate like Green will demand power and control — and Green would make Schottenheimer look like an amateur when it comes to being a control freak, based on the stories that came out of the Vikings camp.

Or will Snyder go with the unproven assistant with potential — one, of course, who won’t object when the owner and Vinny the Racquetball Boy decide to sign a star veteran player who is going for, let’s say, the all-time NFL record for pass receptions of 10 yards or less from a backup quarterback?

There will be no shortage of people who want the job, despite the damaged reputation of the Redskins organization. Most coaches have big enough egos to believe they could be the ones to change things — or in this case, to get the owner under control. And Snyder certainly will pay enough money to make it an attractive job, particularly since he won’t have to pay Spurrier the remaining $15million on his contract.

Give the Ball Coach enough credit for that — for walking away from the money and not going through any more abuse. It was pretty embarrassing the last few weeks, and Spurrier had to see he was destroying his legacy every time the Redskins took the field.

He probably will take a year off now, play golf in Florida, and wind up back in college coaching, where he belongs, in 2005. And he probably will succeed. Spurrier has a proven record of success in college football.

Snyder, unfortunately for Redskins fans, won’t take a year off. He will remain as Redskins owner, and he probably will continue to fail. He has a proven record of failure in the NFL.


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