By Chris Lingebach

WASHINGTON — Chris Cooley would not have speculated about Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan having a drinking problem without credible information informing those remarks, a former employee of the team says.

Cooley’s remarks, which he made on his WTEM radio show alleging McCloughan might be drinking, came on the heels of reporters for months being denied access to the GM, with those reporters coming out in recent weeks claiming the GM isn’t being permitted by the club to speak publicly.

“Let me put it this way: Cooley’s not a bad guy,” said Chuck Sapienza, former program director of WTEM — the radio station on which Cooley made those remarks — told Chad Dukes on 106.7 The Fan. “So some people that would say something like that would have an ax to grind or would hate someone.”

“That’s not Cooley at all,” he said. “He’s not a bad person. He’s also a very smart person. He’s one of the smarter athletes that I’ve been around in my career. But he’s also very connected with the front office. He’s too smart to not throw something out there unless he was either told something, heard something or he’s seen something. There’s no way that he just speculates. Nobody with the intelligence level of Chris would speculate on somebody having a drinking issue unless that was something that he, like I said, had either seen, heard or was told.”

“Is it appropriate for him to bring up on the air in this capacity?” Dukes asked.

“No. No. Not at all. Unless he’s being told to,” Sapienza said. “That’s the thing, you don’t do that about somebody. I mean, look, I like Chris a lot, but Chris I’m sure enjoys a cocktail or two every once in a while. It wouldn’t be right if one of his coworkers, and again, when you work at the station across the street, you are basically coworkers with the organization.

“You have an email address that’s the same and they work together, especially on their radio network. You work side by side with these people. I worked side by side with many people over at Ashburn. I could walk in without having to stop at the front desk. I mean it’s just the way it was.”

“Now, you don’t say that unless, again, you’re either told something or you’re asked to say something,” he said. “That’s my opinion. I just don’t believe that’s something that you just throw out there. If you would have said, ‘Hey, I hear that one of your coworkers has a drinking problem, Funny Danny has a drinking problem,’ that probably wouldn’t go over real well. That’s not something people do unless there’s something going on there.”

“And that’s the way Redskins Park seems to run sometimes,” he said. “It seems to be more of a building of political operatives than it is football people.”

“He’s tied to them. He’s tied to the organization,” Sapienza said of Cooley. “He’s one of the main people on their radio network. He was a former player. He knows those guys inside out and backwards. He’s probably the most connected person at that radio station that’s connected with the front office. There’s no doubt about it. There’s absolutely no doubt about it.

“So for him to say that, like I said, I just believe he was either told something or heard something. And the way that Redskins Park has run in the past — it hasn’t totally in the last year — but how it’s been run in the past, is when they want to get rid of somebody, they turn the leaks on and the leaks continue until somebody’s gone.

“That’s why I tweeted out yesterday I wouldn’t be surprised if McCloughan’s gone sooner rather than later, probably, maybe by the end of this year, maybe sooner,” he said. “Because when they start putting stuff like that out, it’s General Flynn-esque. That’s what they do. It’s what they do.”

“When they’re gonna make a move that seems controversial, what they’ll do is they’ll put stuff out there to kind of sway the narrative,” he added. “So look, they have no choice. It’s crazy.”

“Yeah. I lived it,” Sapienza said when asked if he’s seen something like this take place before. “Of course, that’s why I’m not there anymore. That’s kind of what they did. That’s why I left. That’s why I resigned. I wasn’t fired; I resigned, because I wasn’t going to be a part of a narrative.”

Follow @ChrisLingebach and @1067TheFan on Twitter.

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