Right before Christmas, I read an ESPN report that said Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen gave a “ringing endorsement” of his former coach, Mike Shanahan, during private conversations with Dan Snyder. I thought that was an odd leak, given that Bowlen just fired Shanahan a year ago, after Shanny lost a four-game division lead in the last four weeks of the season to the San Diego Chargers, a team coached by Norv Turner, who Snyder determined long ago wasn’t good enough to coach the Redskins. The endorsement also made Bowlen look tacky, lobbying for one coach while Snyder still employed Jim Zorn.

But now it’s all clear: Bowlen set Snyder up!

Turns out Bowlen was still paying off Shanahan’s huge coaching contract. The only way he could get out of writing more big checks to Shanny was to get some other NFL team to hire the guy he’d just fired. Kind of like alimony payments, where you keep paying until somebody marries your ex-wife.

So, as soon as Shanahan signs the deal with Snyder that will be announced later today at Redskins Park, Bowlen’s off the hook for a big chunk of his ex’s nut.

From the Denver Post:

Bowlen will be relieved of roughly $7 million in expenses today when the Washington Redskins announce Mike Shanahan as their new coach. Shanahan, who was the Broncos’ head coach from 1995 until he was fired after the 2008 season, completed a five-year deal Tuesday evening with the Redskins, according to two sources familiar with the negotiations.

Shanahan will receive approximately the same average guaranteed salary — $7 million a season — he had during his final contract with the Broncos. He still had three years remaining on his deal when he was fired nearly a year ago.

The Broncos will still owe Shanahan approximately $3.5 million per year in 2010 and 2011 to essentially have him coach the Redskins. Then again, Bowlen will save roughly $3.5 million each of the next two years now that their former coach is no longer unemployed.

Bottom line: Bowlen hoodwinked Snyder again!

And this deal is a clearer-cut hoodwink than that Portis-for-Bailey-plus-draft-picks hoodwink back in 2004!

Before moving on, let me repeat something from above: Shanahan was fired by Bowlen a year ago for losing a four-game division lead in the last four weeks of the season to the San Diego Chargers, a team coached by Norv Turner, who wasn’t good enough to coach Dan Snyder’s Redskins.

Got that?

(AFTER THE JUMP: Shanahan and Allen won’t keep fans from fleeing FedExField? Sherman Smith says the worst came to pass? The Wall Street Journal doesn’t think the Skins are the worst team in the NFL? Ben Olsen won’t be leaving United after all? The New York Times runs a sad correction to its George Michael obituary?)


From the sound of things, the mere hirings of Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen ain’t going to be enough to retain season ticketholders. The members over at Dan Snyder’s message board, extremeskins.com, are polling themselves about who’s going to renew their tickets for the 2010 season.

The results are informal, but it should be considered that the extremeskins posters are the most devout followers in the burgundy and gold flock. And as of last night, the respondents saying they ain’t coming back outnumbered those that would be buying season tickets again by a huge margin. Most of the naysayers threw in some explanations about why they’re dropping out, and listed things like the on-field product, lousy game-day experience, cost, economy, availability of single tickets through StubHub and eBay, and, overwhelmingly, disdain for Dan Snyder.

My favorite post came from the extremeskins member who goes by stew, who told the board that he had dropped off the Redskins seasons ticket rolls in 2008, and couldn’t be happier with the decision. From stew:

This was my first year not renewing tickets, not buying merchandise, and not shopping at Redskins sponsors stores. Honestly, its been great! I bought a 50 inch big screen, a PS3, and a new L shaped sectional couch, with the money I would have spent on my season tickets. I have enjoyed the hell out of my TV and PS3 and have received compliments on my couch… some of which came while watching the Skins lose.It just isn’t worth it right now. Snyder has his hands too deep in my team for me to let him put his hands deep into my pocket. When his attitude and personality change… and there is proof of this, not just what people say, then I will rethink my stance on spending money on this team. Its liberating knowing I am part of his profit loss, and there has been one. I am part of what is getting Snyders attention. If we drafft a QB, I will know that Snyder still has his hands all over my team and I will not support moves like that with my hard earned money. I still love the redskins, but I will not contribute to Snyders profits while he is destroying a franchise that I have been passionate about since my childhood.The good thing about this mythical waiting list is that the games will never be blacked out… the tickets are sold, no need to black out any games… I can watch them all from my 50 inch big screen silly.

If the timing wasn’t off, I would have accused stew of basing his lifestyle on my charticle on how to spend the money you won’t be spending on Redskins season tickets!

But, the thread and all its vitriol confirmed one thing: Snyder needs to announce he’s building a Jumbotron real, real fast.


Long recap of the 2009 season in the Washington Post by all the folks on the Redskins beat. The best part comes late, with a quote from Sherman Smith about how he consoled Jim Zorn at year’s end:

“I told him all the reasons why people were telling me not to come here all came true,” Smith said prior to the Redskins’ final game.


Somebody thinks the Redskins aren’t the horriblest of the horrible. The Wall Street Journal ran a computerized playoff of the eight worst teams in the NFL, four from each conference, with the Detroit Lions ultimately being crowned the WSJ’s Misfit Bowl champion.

The computerized Skins were knocked out in the first round of the tourney by defeating the St. Louis Rams, 24-21. I wonder if the digital Skins fans booed the win.


Ben Olsen, perhaps the most popular player in D.C. United history, will stay on with the team even after his recent retirement. United announced today that Olsen, a two-time MLS all-star and a member of two of DC’s league championship squads who retired as a player after the 2009 season, has been hired as an assistant coach.


You know things are messy when your family’s telling fibs to the obituary writer. Get a load of this correction that ran in the New York Times over the weekend:

Correction: January 1, 2010

An obituary last Friday about the sportscaster George Michael, using information from a family member, omitted three survivors. They are his daughter Cindi Howson, of Sparta, N.J., a third grandson and a granddaughter.

So one of Michael’s survivors denied the existence of one of his children and two of his grandchildren after his death? Man o man. The Associated Press’s obit of the WRC sportscaster left out Cindi Howson, also. So did the Washington Post’s official Michael obit, but writer Adam Bernstein avoided factual errors by inserting a bizarre sentence, after naming two of the children that Michael left behind: “A full list of survivors could not be confirmed.”

There’s a real sad story in there somewhere.


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