Friday, December 11, 2009

When Marty Fired Vinny

Those could have been the days

It surprises no one that former head coach Marty Schottenheimer still has an axe to grind with Redskins management, after all he was brought in by owner Dan Snyder just a month after publicly castigating Dan on ESPN live TV, Dan was clearly trying to do the right thing and bring in someone with volumes of football knowledge and some indepdenence in order to build and manage the team.

As a young and headstrong owner that thought he knew a lot about football it must have been a tough hire. He gave Marty a four year deal and total control of the organization (op. cit.). Marty's first order of business was to fire, or in team parlance upon separation last year with Gregg Williams and Al Saunders, release Vinny Cerrato, things went down hill from there, control became an issue, the team had a rough start, there were was locker room unrest and without his Cerrato security blanket Dan Snyder was unable to cope with someone else in charge.

Ultimately we all know how it ended, Dan fell off the do the right thing and honor the traditions of Redskins football wagon, and hard, going on a two year bender with Steve Spurrier before hiring Joe Gibbs, who was more like a breath mint than a sponsor if I can extend the alcoholism metaphor one step too far.

Now just because Marty still smarts from his time in Washington does not mean he does not speak truth or honesty from experience. Dan Dan the Sports Bog Man heard Marty yesterday on Sirius NFL Radio, ostensibly discussing the notion that Dan Snyder accompanied shadow general manager Vinny Cerrato personally to scout University of Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, the MacGuffin is Marty's comment on the quality of that scouting trip, the meat on the bone is what he said about Vinny:

"I've said for a long time, in my opinion the problem down there--obviously it starts at the top with Dan--but [the problem] is Cerrato," Schottenheimer said Thursday. "I don't particularly respect the guy. He and I had our issues when we were there. Basically what he said was, 'Marty, Dan may be listening to you during the preseason,' he says. 'But wait until I get up in the owner's box during the regular season, and then we'll see who Dan listens to.'

"Now how's that? How's that? And of course, he was gone within the week but re-hired shortly after I departed. So now, Dan, he's made his choice [some] time ago, but I'm not a big fan of Cerrato and his work."

Emphasis added by Dan Steinberg, seconded by me. Let us get into the Wayback Machine to 2001, so the guy Vinny, who is clearly uncomfortable with Marty's presence, confidence and decision making, does not even wait two weeks to poison the well between himself and the new head coach, to tell him you may be the ball date but I'll be the one shagging him in the kitchen. How do we know two weeks? Because Marty himself said Vinny was gone less than a week after that encounter, fired by Marty less than three weeks after becoming head coach and president of football operations (op. cit.).

A lesser man may have been intimidated by Vinny, Marty was armed with decades of experience in a difficult profession and an iron clad contract, he did not give a shit about what Vinny Cerrato had to say.

Curly R has been preaching for years that Vinny Cerrato is the ultimate enabler of the wasteland that is now the Redskins franchise, after hearing firsthand from Marty Schottenheimer how Vinny plays, how he will stop at nothing to retain his seat at the table, even to the point of undermining the team itself, he will tell Dan Snyder anything he wants to hear, will justify any bad decision and will stab in the back anyone in his way. He is the ultimate sycophantic courtier.

No matter what happens in this or any offseason, as long as he is in place to be Dan Snyder's echo chamber, the negative feedback loop of decision making that has ruined this team will continue.

Curly R has written extensively about Marty Schottenheimer, here, here and especially here.

Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer: John McDonnell / Washington Post from here via here.