- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 29, 2014

Washington Redskins fans were reminded again of what might have been when the general manager of the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks came to town last week to visit the White House for their presidential championship celebration.

John Schneider probably knew his way around town because he used to work in nearby Ashburn — for the Redskins. He was vice president of player personnel for coach Marty Schottenheimer in 2001, but lasted just one season before owner Daniel Snyder fired Schottenheimer and his crew.

In fact, thanks to USA Today, Redskins fans were reminded that much of the Seahawks’ Super Bowl champion personnel braintrust was part of the Redskins‘ front office in 2001. Trent Kirchner is Seattle’s director of pro personnel. He was the Redskins‘ college scouting coordinator in 2001. Tag Ribary, is the Seahawks’ director of team operations. He was Washington’s director of pro personnel for Schottenheimer.

Then they all got fired and Vinny Cerrato took over. Still hard to believe, isn’t it?

Did the Redskins repeat the same mistake in the same week Schneider came to town when they let Morocco Brown leave?

Brown, Washington’s director of pro personnel, took a job with the Cleveland Browns — perhaps the only NFL franchise more dysfunctional than the Redskins — as vice president of player personnel.

He had been the Redskins pro personnel director for six years.

Normally, the question of the departure of a pro personnel director for a team that went 33-60 during his time in charge of pro player personnel would not be one of regret — rejoicing, yes, but not regret.

But if we are to believe the narrative that has come out of Redskins Park ever since the firing of Mike Shanahan — the warden of the NFL’s version of Shawshank Prison — the beleaguered and shackled front office executives would now be able to show the world that they have actually been top-notch talent evaluators held hostage.

Brown and his college scouting counterpart, Scott Campbell, along with general manager Bruce Allen, would now have a chance to show they are not 33-60 talent evaluators.

All we’ve heard is how respected Brown is, both inside and outside the building — that, first under Cerrato and then Shanahan, he was ignored and dismissed, but now, free of the Shanahan shackles, we would see the real Morocco Brown.

I guess Cleveland will have that pleasure now.

Seriously, if we are to believe the premise that Brown is really good at what he does — and, like Schneider, may be a general manager in waiting — then Redskins fans have to wonder if, once again, the owner made a bad decision. With Shanahan gone, Snyder this week took the window dressing off Allen’s general manager title by naming him team president and giving him real power over the roster.

Would Brown have been a better choice?

We’ve seen Allen’s real GM act before in Oakland and Tampa Bay, and it’s mixed at best, poor at worst, particularly when he was in charge in Tampa from 2004 to 2008. If Allen is successful, after four years as the fake GM, now as the real GM, he would have to outrun his coverage, so to speak.

Brown is an unknown, but it is curious that a guy who was tied to the failure as Redskins Park over the past six seasons can come away from that with a reputation as a smart and respected talented evaluator. That’s a trick Houdini would be envious of.

Brown got his start as a Redskins intern in 1999 and worked as an assistant scout in 2000 before taking a job with the Chicago Bears as assistant director of pro personnel from 2001 to 2007. He came back in 2008, but interviewed for other jobs while he was with the Redskins — the Arizona Cardinals general manager job in 2013 and the Tampa GM job in January.

People forget, but when Bruce Allen got the fake GM job in 2009, Brown — hired the year before as director of player personnel — interviewed for that same job. He was passed over in favor of Allen, but it was a decision he could live with when he saw — if we are to believe the post-Shanahan era stories — that it was Shanahan who called the personnel shots, and the GM was just in charge of homecoming.

Once he saw that Allen would be large and in charge now at Redskins Park for real, Brown was on the first plane out of town — even if it was heading to Cleveland.

Now Brown — hopefully not held back by the presence of Kyle Shanahan as offensive coordinator in Cleveland — can show his talent unshackled. And if he somehow winds up on the White House lawn someday being honored, it will go down in history as the greatest escape in history — even better than Andy Dufresne on a Mexican beach.

Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 radio and espn980.com

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