Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP

The dust is still settling in Virginia the day after Skins general manager Scot McCloughan was fired by the team, then burned on his way out the door by anonymous officials who claimed he was having problems with alcohol. Former Washington tight end and current ESPN 980 radio host Chris Cooley was the first person to publicly float the idea that McCloughan was being kept away from the team because he was drinking. Today, Cooley spoke at length on his radio show and apologized for his small role in the whole mess.

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Cooley claimed repeatedly that he was not told what to say by Washington owner Dan Snyder or any of his minions. He specifically denied being paid by the team for his radio work, and pointed out that in the original segment, he prefaced his remarks about McCloughan by saying that he had no inside information. At one point, he said that he’d swear he was not Snyder’s mouthpiece on his daughter, a bible, and his unborn son. Via Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post:

NO ONE TOLD ME TO DO THIS. You can be mad at anyone you want to be mad at for this happening, but let me be really clear on something: Bruce Allen, Larry Michael, Jay Gruden, anybody involved in this organization that I know, no one came to me and said, ‘Hey Chris, can you float some information out there so three weeks from now we can fire the general manager.’ No. It’s insanity. And if it were the truth, they’re insane, because it’s hurt everybody to have my name associated with this.”

Cooley apologized to both McCloughan and the organization for starting a rumor that ended up snowballing. As Steinberg notes, the team seems to have taken advantage of Cooley’s comments by failing to deny them, defend McCloughan, or publicly discipline Cooley. He’s not technically a Skins employee, but his radio station is controlled by team owner Dan Snyder, whose right-hand man once reportedly shitcanned a host over criticisms of the team. Cooley’s proximity to the team’s front office doesn’t invalidate his denials or apologies. He just shouldn’t be considered an independent media member.

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[Washington Post]