WASHINGTON — Through all the recent reports and speculation about Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan, minds have wandered through a labyrinth of possibilities about what’s really going on behind closed doors at Redskins Park.
It began with a question: Why hasn’t McCloughan spoken publicly?
That thought persisted as McCloughan politely declined invitations to speak at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. in late January.
Two weeks ago, former Redskin Chris Cooley, now a host at the Redskins-owned radio station, fueled speculation on air that McCloughan may be drinking again, a personal issue McCloughan has openly admitted to battling in his past, and one which has cost him previous NFL jobs.
The Redskins, curiously, did not knock that speculation down.
It’s not a sizable leap then, if minds have begun to wander, for fans to begin questioning if that problem hasn’t cropped back up again, and how that might affect McCloughan’s job performance.
Imagine then, what these people might think if McCloughan — a scout through and through — was suddenly absent from the biggest scouting event of the year, the NFL Scouting Combine.
On Wednesday, a source told 106.7 The Fan that McCloughan was “sent home from the team on Feb. 20,” a report McCloughan flatly refuted as being “not true.”
He clarified he was away dealing with the death of his 100-year-old grandmother who, an obituary in his hometown newspaper, the Loveland (Colo.) Reporter-Herald, shows, died on Feb. 6. The paper reported the funeral was scheduled for Feb. 13. It is now March 2.
McCloughan said it would “take seven days” to go through the funeral process for his grandmother.
It’s no wonder, then, given that timeline and all that’s been reported in recent weeks, why minds might wander to the worst-case scenario.
Still, president Bruce Allen has corroborated McCloughan’s account, that his GM is indeed “dealing with some family matters right now.”
“His grandmother died a week or so ago,” Allen told 104.5 The Zone in Nashville. (Nashville?) “So he’s dealing with that right now.”
In case you’ve been connecting some dots in your head, CBS NFL Insider Jason La Canfora — a reporter with longtime ties to the Redskins and many other sources around the league — sought to quiet some of the speculation Thursday night.
Earlier Thursday, JP Finlay of CSN Mid-Atlantic sought to quiet some speculation too. Based on a source with knowledge of the situation, Finlay reported that McCloughan had not, in fact, been fired. “It’s all bullsh–, he’s not fired,” the source said.
So what do we know that’s true?
Danny Rouhier posed that very question to Finlay on 106.7 The Fan Thursday afternoon.
“What do we know that’s true? Scot is not in Indianapolis for the combine,” Finlay said. “We know that Scot was told not to speak to the media at the Senior Bowl in Mobile. And, one thing that I found interesting, there are things that I knew then that in hindsight now seem a little different, right?
“Just in Mobile, Scot sat at the 50-yard-line with other scouts, and most of the Redskins contingent sat in the end zone watching practice roll out together. Now that’s not to suggest all those guys weren’t together at night, or at various other times, but during the open practices, the times we were all there watching, generally those guys were separated on different parts of the football field, which, in hindsight, is kind of interesting.
“I mean, who knows? Maybe it’s just a preferred angle to watch practice, but that kind of stuff is interesting, especially paired with we know that Scot’s grandmother passed away. I’ve known that for a few weeks. Grant [Paulsen], you and I texted about that a few weeks ago. But at the time, somebody’s grandmother passing away isn’t relevant information to report.”
“It becomes relevant information to report when Scot’s not at the combine and it’s because of a family matter,” he added.
Later Thursday, on 106.7 The Fan with Chad Dukes, Post columnist Jerry Brewer spoke to similar division within the Redskins front office.
“It’s funny, because I think a lot of people think that anything that I get from the team comes straight from McCloughan’s mouth, which I’ll tell you absolutely in total honesty is false,” he said. “As a matter of fact, there’s been some things that I’ve kind of stepped on a landmine, come to find out, just through my own perceptions and some things that I’ve found from other people in the organization, not directly from Scot McCloughan.
“But the fact that they think every leak comes from him, and the fact that Cooley goes on and says something in a speculative manner and they don’t shoot it down, that just shows how improper and dysfunctional the relationship is there,” he said.
“There’s very much a ‘it’s us, and it’s him.’ And they created this environment when they brought McCloughan in and didn’t let him bring in any of his other people,” he said. “I mean, he tried on a couple people and then he didn’t, and then ultimately he didn’t wind up rearranging the staff and that’s been a big problem.”
Brewer suggests there’s more to McCloughan not being in Indianapolis than what meets the eye.
“It’s very symbolic to see him this week — wherever he is, I mean the rumor is that he’s here in Virginia — to see him here in Virginia while everyone else is in Indianapolis,” he said. “It’s very symbolic, a dramatic symbolism of what that relationship is like in a lot of ways. I feel like Scot McCloughan is the scouting genius in the corner and they want to do what they want to do, and they’re only inviting him into the party now when they see fit.”
“That’s just not a way to run an organization and that’s not a way to treat a general manager,” he said. “And there’s plenty of teams that have general manager/president setups like this, where the president controls the budget and such, but they function and they operate in a better manner and the GM isn’t getting stepped on quite as much as McCloughan is getting stepped on right now.”
“And that’s just unfortunate, because I feel like a lot of the things that divide the two right now are petty and could easily be solved with a little bit of humility and real conversation, and it’s not gonna happen,” he added. “Everyone’s gonna wind up losing out, because you’re gonna lose a key piece to what has helped you make this progress, and you might not get it back.
“And so a good thing might end before we even saw it reach its peak, for no good reason, and people are gonna look back 10 years from now and still not be able to put their finger on exactly what went wrong because it’s stupid and silly and petty.”
Division. Leaks. Rumors. Speculation. This is the Redskins Park we know. And through it all, this situation — whatever it is we’re witnessing unfold before our eyes — may still smack of jealousy, as longtime Redskins reporter Mike Jones of The Post pointed to last month.
Will Redskins Park ever be rid of its dysfunction addiction?
Can McCloughan — portrayed two years ago as the answer to so many frustrated fans’ long-held prayers — find a way to survive the drama?
“Do you think he’s going to be dismissed this offseason?” Dukes asked.
“It’s purely speculation on my part,” Brewer cautioned, “but based on experience in dealing with some of these things, right now, I think what’s going to happen is we’ll get through the draft and then in May, on some Friday at 5 o’clock, we’ll get a release and it’ll basically say that they’ve parted ways — mutually parted ways — and McCloughan won’t ever talk bad about them, and they’ll stop putting out things about what he’s done wrong. And I think that’s ultimately where this things is headed.”
This story, shrouded in chaos, sounds all too familiar.