Larry Weisman lost both his job and his Twitter handle on Friday.
In July 2009, Weisman became what to me looked like the smartest hire Dan Snyder ever made. Snyder never got along with the press; Weisman was the press, a longtime and respected NFL writer for USAToday and frequent guest on local sportsradio who was liked by pretty much everybody.
When he signed on with “Redskins Unfiltered,” the team’s p.r. machine’s attempt to write news stories about the team itself, Weisman said his job was to keep doing what he’d always been doing as a newspaperman, only for a new boss.
In a statement from the team when Weisman was hired, Senior Vice President/Executive Producer-Media Larry Michael said, “Larry’s credibility and experience will give Redskins fans something new and compelling to look forward to this season and beyond.”
Weisman gave the team’s faux news operation its greatest, and really only, credibility. ESPN would treat Weisman’s releases like real news stories in regular news round-ups.
And though he was no longer a journalist, Weisman played one on TV, and played one well, during appearances on the infomercials produced by the team-owned Redskins Broadcast Network that aired on WRC-TV.
Bringing Weisman to Redskins Park made Snyder look big, too, since during his years with USA Today Weisman had taken tons of shots at the Redskins owner.
Like this one, from a USA Today chat in March 2006:
Ashburn, VA: Does Dan Snider have a clue? You think he would learn from his past mistakes. I wonder if looked at the number of catches El had last year or just the big pass in the Super Bowl. Even more funny is his pickup of T.O. lite from San Fran. 30 mil for a saftey that has taken one too many blows to the head? I give each player no more than two years before Dan cuts them.
Larry Weisman: Look at the bright side. He passes the costs on to season ticket holders and those who park cars at FedUpField. Ever heard that expression about people who know the price of everything and the value of nothing? Remember that Dan Snyder isn’t so much playing with house money as with your money.
“FedUpField” is brutal! Yet here was Snyder hiring the guy who coined the phrase.
There was also this, which appeared on the Sporting News site about two weeks AFTER Weisman was brought into the Redskins’ employ, with Weisman’s byline and the headline “Mediocre Returns on Big Investments”:
Since Daniel Snyder bought the franchise in 1999, it has one division title and two playoff victories, accolades hardly worth the megamillions Washington has burned through trying to get the best players of the day… The offensive line is past ripe, the quarterback has not matured and the receivers are in transition. They rely too heavily on Portis on offense, and on defense, they’ll bank on Haynesworth to elevate everyone’s level…
Bottom line: The Redskins are a mediocre team.
But maybe those words weren’t ever really forgotten. On Friday, Weisman began spreading the word that he was out of work. “Kind of a shocker this AM,” he tweeted. “So it goes. I guess free agents signed by the Redskins eventually get cut.” Also: “Blindsided.”
Weisman’s tweets came on a new account, @MrLarryWeisman. His old handle, @LarryWeisman, was canceled when he got canned. (So far, Washington City Paper hasn’t been able to get a hold of Weisman directly, but we’ll update when we do.)
Asked about Weisman’s departure, Redskins spokesperson Tony Wyllie says via email: “We don’t comment publicly on personnel decisions and wish him the best of luck.”
As for the cancellation of Weisman’s Twitter account, Wyllie says, “We own the Twitter accounts that we publicize on our site/that our employees use to communicate with fans as part of their jobs.”