- - Thursday, March 2, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION

The aura of self-destruction.

It’s a phrase I began using years ago to describe the atmosphere at Redskins Park.

I don’t think I’ve ever written five words that ring more true.

The latest self-destruction is the speculation surrounding the body of the team’s alleged general manager, Scot McCloughan.

He’s not at the NFL combine — arguably the single most important event a team’s most important personnel evaluator needs to be at.

Why? He’s home taking care of funeral arrangements for his 100-year-old grandmother.

She died nearly a month ago.

McCloughan’s absence comes on the heels of reports out of Redskins Park that the alleged general manager had been silenced by the Prince of Darkness, team president Bruce Allen, prohibited from talking to the media.

It also follows the reckless comments from ESPN 980 host and former Redskins player Chris Cooley, who speculated that McCloughan, who, according to a 2014 ESPN the Magazine story, may have lost front office jobs in San Francisco and Seattle because of a drinking problem, was drinking again.

Even if true, it was either stupid, or worse, sinister if it was part of a campaign to discredit McCloughan.

Such irresponsible public suggestions by someone so close to the team would seem to warrant a public response from the Redskins — an angry public response, if the team was interested in protecting its general manager.

If they wanted to hang McCloughan out to dry — well, the silence, as they like to say in the cliché factory, speaks volumes.

So does his absence — and, according to reports, the team’s willingness to let speculation run wild.

The Prince of Darkness spoke briefly to the Washington Post, saying that McCloughan was “dealing with family matters.” And when asked about the 106.7 report that McCloughan was sent home from the building, Allen replied, “I’m not getting into speculations.”

This is rich. The guy that Allen made a big production about hiring two years ago in a press conference — “we picked Scot because of his great track record, but really, the way he describes a football player, the intangibles that he’s looking for in a football player, the winning traits he has helped other teams acquire” — is now the target of damning accusations and speculation, and Allen sees no need to stand up and shout to the world, “None of this is true.”

That’s what an organization that didn’t operate under the aura of self-destruction would do. That’s not the Washington Redskins.

Whatever the truth is, the damage is done, and now Redskins fans can wake up every morning with the pain in their gut that the savior they counted on to save their beloved franchise — McCloughan, the team’s first real general manager since owner Daniel Snyder bought the team in 1999 — has been reduced to a joke, the relative you want to hide from visitors during holidays.

“In Scot we trust,” was the motto that Redskins fans would use to convince themselves that this time under Snyder, things would be different. There was a real general manager in charge, a football man highly regarded in the industry as a top talent evaluator.

McCloughan still may have a desk at Redskins Park. He still may come back to look at film and evaluate talent. But no one is going to believe now that this franchise isn’t operating in the same dysfunctional manner it has for the entire Snyder era.

There will be no more trust in Scot McCloughan. The Redskins took care of that.

Now “speculation” is that if McCloughan does remain with the organization, his role will be diminished. Redskins icon and senior personnel executive Doug Williams has reportedly gained a larger voice — so how long will it take the Redskins to poison the legend of Doug Williams? How long will it take before there is a messy parting of the ways there?

How inevitable is that?

Also, there are reports that coach Jay Gruden will have more power as well — of course he will. His team ended the season with four pathetic performances —including possibly the worst loss in franchise history in the season finale against the New York Giants, a team that had nothing to play for, unlike the Redskins, who needed the victory to make the playoffs. His ability to be an NFL head coach should be called into question.

Yet now it is reported he is not on the hot seat, but instead getting a bigger, better chair.

This is how business is done under the aura of self-destruction.

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


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