Bruce Allen and the D.C. bond
The last time the Redskins held a big introductory press conference at Redskins Park (well, at least before the Brian Orakpo and Albert Haynesworth and DeAngelo Hall and Virginia Scratchers ones), Jim Zorn was the man on stage, hair all spiky, face all giddy with enthusiasm. I was listening in my car, with my daughter asleep in the back seat. And then Zorn waded into a chromatic disaster, talking about how his family would soon be outfitted in maroon and black and yellow.
Thursday's press conference with Bruce Allen--son of George, former burgundy and gold sideline heckler, new GM--was a bit different.
"Bubba Tyer's in the house! Hello Bubba!" Allen said at one point, in mid-answer, when he spotted the longtime trainer in the Redskins Park auditorium. I don't know about you, but his approval rating went up about 700 points in my office at that moment. And then he said this:
"We have these two NFC East teams coming up, and performance in the NFC East is gonna be key for our organization."
Now, maybe Daniel Snyder had just given him talking points, because we all know how much Snyder loves talking about the NFC East. But somehow I doubt it. You figure a guy who cried after the Super Bowl loss to the Dolphins, a guy who used to pump gas out on Route 7 near Tysons wouldn't need prompting to talk up the NFC East. That, folks, also helps his approval rating a tiny bit.
"If you told me 35 years ago I'd be standing here in new Redskins Park, I don't think I would have bet on that," he joked at the beginning of his remarks. "But it's exciting because of the history, the tradition, the comfort about coming home....What makes it a good fit is I want to be in a place with tradition. The fact that I can recite most of the media guide to you probably made it even more exciting. The dedication and the passion of the ownership here to win, I embrace. I like urgency. I like doing things sooner than later, and that made it the most attractive position that could have possibly been available."
Obviously, fans want, more than anything else, for their teams to win games. But I think understanding what the local teams mean, their history, their quirks isn't a bad thing either. If Stan Kasten had gone to Langley High, there's no chance he would have gone on Philly sports radio to invite Phillies fans to invade Nats Park. Your GM isn't just a decision-maker, he's also the face of your franchise. Personnel track record aside, that makes this all somewhat reassuring to me.
"The players that he accumulated, the staff that he had here, it was a special bond of people all fighting for one common goal," Allen said, when asked what he remembers from his dad's years in D.C. "Other than the great friendships that remain, I still see all the guys and talk to all the guys in the offseasons. It's all those bonds with the people [that matter]."
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