As Ken and I drove towards Redskins Park for the biggest interview of our lives--and that's saying a lot because we've interviewed Ted Leonsis, Marion Barry, and Tom Tupa's Dad to name a few--we tried to imagine what the environment would be like. I hope there is at least security video of us rolling into Redskins Park because the players parking lot looked like an Escalade dealership, and here come the two of us in Ken's Honda Civic with the back-seat filled to the ceiling with boxes, pillows, and diapers (he just bought a house and is still moving).
From tailgates - to family functions - to overheard Metro conversations, every Redskins' fan has wanted a piece of the owner....for YEARS. The last thing we wanted to do was disappoint, but more importantly, I was making sure I left there with my questions answered - my #1 question being continuity. Having said that, I had no idea what to expect. I envisioned the interview would be something like a Law & Order episode where Ken and I were on one side of the table (possibly made of alligator skin), and Dan Snyder and his professional consultant on the other. Some questions we'd get a bland answer for, and others he'd pull a Mark McGwire - ie: whisper into his lawyer's ear, and respond to us, "I'm hear to talk about the future." I was as accurate on that as Suisham was on right-hash 23-yard field goals.
As we walked through several turns of the Redskins Park hallways, including a finger-lock door, the anticipation began to snowball. Tony Wyllie finally stopped at an open door with "Executive Office" on it and from my angle, all I could see was a burgundy and gold presidential-esque flag next to a nice desk. "Over here," was our direction from Tony and he led us into the conference room. As we took our seats wating for "Mr. Snyder", we joked with Tony how the Redskins cleaned Houston out - taking him, Kyle Shanahan, Ray Wright, and Rexy from their squad. Dan Snyder then entered the room smiling with jeans and un-tucked golf shirt. He walked over to the leather lounge-chair near our conference table, leaned back with one-leg on the arm-chair (he had a sore back), and it was on. We respectfully did the, "Mr. Snyder? Dan?" The response: "Call me Dan. My father's name was Mr. Snyder." It certainly eased the mood immensely where the only thing missing really was a bottle of Jamesons and some cigars. As the interview wrapped up, there was one question I could not leave without asking:
"I recently did an interview with the Football Outsiders, one of the most respected NFL analytical groups in the business, and they predicted, along with a host of beat writers, that if the Redskins aren't winning in three years, which is likely given the age of this team, you will fire Shanahan and move on to the next big coaching name...whether that be Urban Meyer or whomever."
DAN: Mike is going to be like Joe [Gibbs]. He's going to retire a Redskin. This will be a great decade. It's going to take some time. Going back to the age of the team issue, I don't believe we're this older team. We have a 38-year old WR...his age may skew it up or whatever the particulars are. I think the oldest team in the NFL won the Super Bowl last year.
Well, he'd be close. The Saints were actually the 2nd oldest team to....the Washington Redskins. Either way, it was clear despite Joe Gibbs' ups and downs, Snyder wanted continuity, but Gibbs was hell-bent on retiring. With Bruce and Shanahan in power, the Redskins are officially on cruise control - and for once, the first turn is not a cliff with no guard rail.