Shanahan enters, Snyder steps aside
Sure, this move was carefully orchestrated. Sure, it was focus-group-driven. Sure, there was a little smirk involved, as in "am I really doing this?"
But whatever. The number one most encouraging thing about Wednesday's Mike Shanahan press conference occurred before Shanahan said a single word. The men in suits gathered in one corner of the auditorium at Redskins Park: PR guy Zack Bolno, owner Dan Snyder, GM Bruce Allen, and Coach Mike Shanahan. Snyder shook Shanahan's hand. He shook Allen's hand. He smiled and some sort of joke was exchanged. And then?
Snyder turned and sort of sheepishly headed away from the podium, as the two men in charge took their seats and prepared for questions.
This, obviously, is something Snyder has never done before when introducing a new coach, even an interim coach like Terry Robiskie. Look at all these past photos of Skins pressers, and notice what the common thread is. There won't be one of those from the Shanahan presser. During the Shanahan presser, Snyder sat in the front row and watched as a spectator.
Of course, Shanahan did praise Snyder, lavishly, repeatedly, excessively.
"One of the reasons I am here is I've never met a guy that is more positive, more passionate about the Washington Redskins," Shanahan said at one point. Snyder wants "to do things the right way, give me every opportunity in this organization, every opportunity to be successful. And that doesn't happen very often in the NFL, where you go to a place and that person's gonna give you every chance to win a Super Bowl."
"Like I said, a guy that has more passion for this organization than anybody I've ever seen," Shanahan said later.
"There's very few people that I know that want to win consistently," he said yet later. "I don't think I've met a person that is more passionate about the Washington Redskins than our owner."
"I also talked to Marty Schottenheimer who was here, obviously, a year," he said still later. "And he said Mike, if that opportunity presents itself, jump on it, because you'll love it. Those are the things I look at, people who have been in the business, do you have an opportunity with the owner to give you the best chance to win? And if you have that as an assistant coach or a head coach, you feel like you're at the right spot."
The other striking thing about these visuals also was something missing: the three Super Bowl trophies. Fans and some media folks have lambasted the organization for trotting them out at every opportunity. Wednesday, as you can see, they were absent, earning immediate praise.
"I'm sick and tired of seeing those trophies brought out as if they have something to do with it," Brian Mitchell said on Comcast SportsNet. "It's time to start a new era and make something happen in your own way. You know, Mike Shanahan comes in, he has two Super Bowl victories. The Redskins have three. But that has nothing to do with the regime that's in place right now. They're out there to try to do something of their own, and I respect Mike, because he was probably part of the reason of saying let's not do that. Because that's disrespectful to Joe Gibbs. That's disrespectful to Jack Kent Cooke, to constantly roll these things out every offseason, and then once the season starts you do absolutely nothing that relates to the things that they did, the work ethic that they had to get to the Super Bowl."
So that was good. A few other observations.
* Faces of Shanahan? Can it be? He made this particular face when discussing Clinton Portis. His remarks were largely foreboding for 26, but he closed with this grimace while saying "I do love his work ethic, I love his toughness."
* He praised Redskins fans while describing how dang many of them were at the Hall of Fame preseason game in 2004, even though not a single Redskins player was being inducted. Fair enough, and I welcome the praise. But that was Joe Gibbs's first game back in the NFL after being gone 11 years. That's why it was insanely packed with Skins fans.
* He told Doc Walker he prefers to go off-site for training camp. Marriott points, baby. Who knows any good restaurants in Carlisle?
* He must have been reading this week's newspapers, because he offered this gem, sort of out of the blue: "Hey, we're the Redskins. If we've got any problems, it stays within our football team. Nobody goes outside the football team. It's gonna be a strong, disciplined football team, I can guarantee you that."
* And Bruce Allen earns major, major demerits. While introducing Shanahan, he quoted from a single newspaper. The New York Times. Sheesh. Couldn't we just call a truce for one day?
(Images by Getty, and via Comcast SportsNet.)
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