- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 26, 2017

PHOENIX — Perched on the sunny patio at the Arizona Biltmore Sunday afternoon, Redskins President Bruce Allen elaborated on the team’s decision to dismiss former General Manager Scot McCloughan, saying McCloughan was fired to give players and staff some “clarity” at the start of the new NFL year.

Allen, who spoke individually to multiple outlets on the opening day of the NFL’s annual meetings, addressed McCloughan’s firing for the first time, other than a short statement issued by the team the night the veteran scout was officially let go.

“I made the decision on the first day of the league year in order to give clarity to the players that we were signing to bring into the team, and also for the scouting staff, going forward,” Allen said.

Legs crossed, relaxing into the Phoenix-area resort’s taupe patio furniture, Allen seemed at ease.

“Ambassador!” he exclaimed, jumping out of his seat when Jets owner and newly-appointed U.S. Ambassador to the  U.K. Woody Johnson, strolled by and said hello.

Allen’s description of the events of the past month bore little resemblance to the messy public drama that has enveloped Redskins Park over the past several weeks. Allen described a difficult time period in which he was forced to let go of a long-time friend for the good of the team.

“Scot was brought to the Redskins because of me and my relationship that I had with his father and his brother with the Raiders and the success we enjoyed there. I obviously didn’t envision this,” Allen said.

“I do think that it gives Scot an opportunity, on the first day of the league year, where he can go get a job with another team even before this draft and go forward. And I do wish him the best. I don’t know what’s been out there. I haven’t been reading everything, but he’s a friend. But for the Redskins, you’ve got to do what’s right so we win.”

Pressed for details as to why, exactly, McCloughan was no longer contributing to a winning culture, Allen declined to elaborate.

Allen wouldn’t confirm or deny that the Redskins had fired McCloughan for cause, which would allow the team to avoid paying out the remaining year-plus of McCloughan’s contract.

“Yeah, I wouldn’t discuss that,” he said.

He also wouldn’t say whether or not issues with alcohol abuse were what led to McCloughan’s dismissal.

“I don’t discuss — I have a number of conversations with our players all the time, I’ve talked to at least half of them since the season is over, coaches, I never discuss any of those discussions.”

McCloughan did not respond to a request for comment in time for this story.

Allen said that he, as well as director of College Scouting Scott Campbell and members of Campbell’s staff, have assumed McCloughan’s duties. Asked if that transition occurred on March 9, the day McCloughan was officially fired, or if it had happened earlier, Allen said it coincided with McCloughan’s release.

“Yes. I guess you could say that,” he said.

Redskins scouts and front office staff had to fill in before, however, as McCloughan was strangely absent from the NFL Scouting Combine the week before. Allen said at the time that McCloughan would return to his duties as soon as he had finished tending to a family issue.

Allen said that he doesn’t read what’s in the papers, claiming he wasn’t aware of reports that professional jealousy or infighting had soured his relationship with McCloughan.

“I’ve heard some of the rumors and, everyone in the building actually laughs. There’s been a misportrayal maybe, of what happened,” Allen said.

Allen did not say what he felt had been misportrayed, or how he felt about anonymous leaks coming from the Redskins organization detailing ongoing issues with alcohol.

“Any story that doesn’t start with Redskins win is probably not a story that I would like,” Allen said with a laugh.

He said he still considers McCloughan a close friend.

“Yeah,” Allen said. “I care a lot about Scot and I do think this opportunity where he could go somewhere else and succeed, it would be good for him. I do wish him the best.”

Allen said that he has moved on and is tending to the team’s needs in free agency and the draft. He has not engaged any trade talks regarding quarterback Kirk Cousins, he said, and is still expecting to reach a long term deal.

As far as the draft, Allen said that he will be the tiebreaking vote should a situation call for one, though the team’s draft board will likely make that unnecessary. The most likely situation in which Allen would exercise final say would be in deciding whether or not to make a trade up or down during the draft, he said.

“If you’re trying to say is it my responsibility? Yes,” Allen said.

• Nora Princiotti can be reached at nprinciotti@washingtontimes.com.

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