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.