Groucho Marx once said, “I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member.” This quote comes to mind as I follow the chaos that has roared throughout Redskins Park in Ashburn, VA like a California wildfire. After lackluster performances to open the 2009-2010 season, including losses to the previously winless Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers, it appears that Jim Zorn will only wear the maroon and black as head coach of the Washington Redskins for the two remaining games leading up to the bye week, during which time Snyder will presumably relieve Zorn of his duties.
While we may safely pencil in a loss to the divisional powerhouse Philadelphia Eagles during the Monday Night Football game on October 26, the scarier game looms this Sunday, October 18, at FedEx Field, against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs will enter the game with a 0-5 record for the season. Such a normally woeful record must surely cause the whole Redskins organization’s knees to wobble and buckle, like Superman standing before a glowing chunk of Kryptonite. Lose to the Chiefs, and the fuming Snyder may not be able to arrest the guillotine until the bye week.
So for now, many names continue to emerge as potential head coaching candidates, men prominently wearing huge Super Bowl “table” rings on their fingers: Holmgren, Cowher, Shanahan, Gruden. These former coaches all boast the sterling résumés with the sufficient cachet to capture Snyder’s attention and cause his purse strings to snap like strands of twine straining under an unbearable load.
However, as rumors emerge as to the parameters of a head coach relationship that Snyder desires, the words of Groucho Marx begin to echo loud and clear. As a fan, I do not envision liking any head coach who would agree to come to DC to coach the Redskins under Snyder’s conditions.
Snyder wants to continue to remain heavily involved in personnel decisions and seems adamant in letting Vinny Cerrato continue his role as executive vice president of football operations; in reality, the de facto general manager. In the best traditions of the city which gives the team its namesake, the town that invented and perfected the art of spin control, Snyder must leave Cerrato in place to provide cover as Snyder continues to experiment with the game he surely feels he can ultimately master. Like a U.S. Secret Service agent leaping forth to absorb a bullet meant for the President of the United States, Cerrato will faithfully stand up and absorb the wrath and disdain of the fans and media as Snyder continues to accumulate expensive big-name free agents and overhyped draft choices like a fantasy football general manager. For this, Snyder rewards Cerrato with his very own radio show on the team’s flagship radio station, and the opportunity to throw racquetball games against his magnanimous benefactor.
Thus, the next head coach will have to coax victories out of a team assembled by Cerrato (pssst, it’s really assembled by Snyder). Why would a coach who has already risen to the top of his profession agree to return to the grueling grind of coaching an NFL team hamstrung by these untenable conditions? Simply for a long, rewarding drink from the faucet of Snyder’s fortune.
Thus, the next head coach will fly into DC on Redskins One, the team’s private jet, with a hunger to win suppressed by the contentment of financial security for life, and a burning desire to once again climb to the mountaintop soothed by the cooling salve of Snyder’s millions.
The fans will have to deal with the specter of many more years of on-field mediocrity on their own.
Driving down the Parkway on a dark overcast night. Twin cones of light suddenly knife upwards and rise in the sky. In the glare of a million candles I watch clouds unfurl, like a motion picture playing on Mother Nature’s own big screen. The deer continue grazing uninterrupted at road’s edge. They have already seen this movie.
The nondescript address of 100 Water Street represented a soaring, monolithic skyscraper in lower Manhattan; an imposing structure befitting the headquarters of BancManhattan, one of the oldest, most established banks in this city of banks. If a visitor were to enter the lobby, board an elevator in the elevator bank dedicated to the middle floors, and push a button for the 32nd floor, a high-speed elevator would efficiently send her on a short, stomach-twisting ride up into the heart of the building. Once the doors opened, she would step out into an anonymous, barren hallway lined with threadbare carpeting and light green painted walls. On either side of the elevator, the hallway stretched out, turning into various branches which led further into the floor.
At seemingly random intervals along the hallways stood heavy, locked, metal doors bordered by substantial steel frames, painted a sickly pale green, with access controlled by key card readers. Conspicuously missing were number plates or any other signage to indicate the occupants or function barred by the doors. Perhaps the occupants of the floor belonged to some super-secret government agency which did not wish to call attention to its presence. Or maybe it was home to the bank’s Human Resources department. The last thing anyone would imagine was that behind the pale green doors toiled the employees of a young and trendy internet startup company.
Atomasis was a creature peculiar to the dot-com boom, one of the thousands of companies hastily formed in the rush to cash in on stock market’s insatiable appetite for new internet companies. Therefore, the location of the company’s offices seemed curiously out of place given the nature of its business. A large majority of internet startups established their offices in Silicon Valley, California; or if they were based on the east coast, in Boston, Massachusetts or Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.
New York City served as the unquestioned financial capital of the world. Wall Street bankers created, managed, and traded wealth. Of course, one could easily imagine that the financial services titans of Wall Street employed huge information technology staffs and software developers to manage the massive data processing of daily operations as well as to bring to life the complex trading strategies developed by the rocket scientists on their staffs. However, the image-conscious firms carefully kept these techies hidden in their back offices, choosing instead to trot out their traders and bankers as the faces of the firm.
So how did Atomasis end up occupying the 32nd floor of 100 Water Street? Simply because it was a company hatched from BancManhattan’s imagination. And to minimize the startup costs, BancManhattan found some under-utilized office space within its vast tower on 100 Water Street. Since BancManhattan viewed this curious startup as a software company, the bankers treated it like they treated their own IT staffs. As a result, Atomasis’ cubicles, offices, and conference rooms came to reside behind the pale green doors on the 32nd floor of 100 Water Street.
Jim Zorn precariously occupies the head coach position for the Redskins. If Dan Snyder were to fire Zorn and post a help wanted ad, I imagine it would look something like this.
The following represents, of course, a parody. Because we know when it comes to matters pertaining to the Redskins under Snyder’s ownership, the truth is often stranger than fiction.
HEAD COACH, WASHINGTON REDSKINS (Immediate Availability)
Leap straight to the top. Amaze yourself. Join a small, elite fraternity of only 31 other NFL head coaches. Earn more than you have ever imagined in your wildest dreams.
The Washington Redskins. One of the most valuable sports franchises in the world. A rich tradition of winning. An ownership group which spares no expense in the relentless pursuit of excellence. A front office at the vanguard of scouting, player personnel, and salary cap management. A rabid, loyal fan base which blindly supports the team through thick and thin and would never boo the home team at FedEx Field.
As Head Coach, you will report directly to the majority owner of the franchise, Daniel M. Snyder. Do you have what it takes to lead the Redskins to victory under the watchful eye and guiding hand of Mr. Snyder?
Be able to recite the correct team colors in public.
Provide leadership and development of the coaching staff, many members of which, to include the Offensive and Defensive Coordinators, may already be hired by Mr. Snyder.
Provide leadership and instruction on the athletic and personal development of NFL football players of questionable skill levels. Tailor coaching philosophy and game plans to the strengths of existing players on the roster.
Effectively integrate newly-signed, overpaid free-agent football players on the downside of their careers with the remaining team members not yet eligible for free-agency.
Be able to recite the correct team colors in public.
Meet with Mr. Snyder on a regular and frequent basis to provide updates on the team’s progress and preparation for the upcoming game, to include a full briefing on the game plan. Contribute to the football education of Mr. Snyder by explaining football terminology and strategies as needed.
Effectively respond to questions from media members, including cantankerous former Hall of Fame players on the flagship radio broadcast team.
Interact with the only two or three favored former players who are allowed around Redskins Park to build on the legacy of this great winning organization.
Be able to recite the correct team colors in public.
2 years experience as an offensive or defensive coordinator for an NFL team with a winning record.
Consistently mentioned as potential head coach material by nationally-recognized football analysts and commentators. Minimum qualification requirements may be waived if the candidate has received significant buzz as a hot head coaching prospect.
Able to obtain the approval of the majority of posters on fan message boards.
Suitable candidates identified by Mr. Snyder and the front office will be contacted for interviews. Before beginning the process, candidates must first sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement.
Candidates will be picked up as surreptitiously as possible at the nearest airport to their home by the team’s private jet, Redskins One. Once onboard, the candidate will be served a delicious, nutritious meal consisting of selections from the full Johnny Rockets menu. Due to FAA regulations, the flight attendant will not be allowed to sing and dance to selected musical highlights from the Johnny Rockets playlist. Candidates are encouraged to visit a Johnny Rockets restaurant as many times as possible after their interviews to experience the full Johnny Rockets dining experience.
After landing at Washington Dulles International Airport, the candidate will be whisked to the Potomac, MD home of Mr. Snyder. The candidate will stay overnight in the plush accommodations of the guest house on the grounds of the Snyder family’s estate, which offers sweeping, unrestricted views of the historic C&O Canal and Potomac River. For the candidate’s entertainment and relaxation, the guest house is fully stocked with a complete Blu-Ray DVD collection of movies starring Tom Cruise, one of the most talented and bankable actors in Hollywood history. In the case of a power failure, backup generators will ensure the grounds remain completely lit and powered so that the candidate may continue to enjoy uninterrupted entertainment.
For the candidate’s comfort and as a valuable souvenir, the candidate will be provided with a set of genuine Redskins pajamas. Depending upon availability, the pajamas may come with white tops and burgundy pants, or the ever-popular white tops and white pants. Candidates will also have a choice of pajamas with or without matching burgundy booties. Candidates are welcome to take the pajamas home with them. All towels and linens, however, must remain at the guest house.
Throughout the night, the candidate will be interviewed at the guest house by Mr. Snyder and Vinny Cerrato, the Executive Vice President of Football Operations. Candidates are reminded to always refer to the owner as “Mr. Snyder.” Messrs. Snyder and Cerrato will probe in-depth the candidate’s football background, knowledge and philosophy guided by the 30-page questionnaire for which the candidate is expected to have answers prepared in advance.
The following day, the candidate will be given a tour of the team headquarters and practice facility at Redskins Park in Ashburn, VA. The tour may include a game of racquetball with Mr. Cerrato, subject to the EVP of Football Operations’ broadcast radio commitments.
The interview may also include a visit to FedEx Field, but only if the media has not yet discovered that the candidate is in town for interviews. The candidate will be flown to FedEx Field on the team’s helicopter, avoiding the inconvenience of the gridlock traffic which fans have to endure on a typical game day. Thus, the candidate will be able to focus his full attention on seeing firsthand how Mr. Snyder has extracted every possible penny of revenue from the stadium via expanded seating, concessions, and ticket and parking fees.
At the conclusion of the interview, the candidate will be flown home on Redskins One, with a farewell Johnny Rockets meal served in-flight.