After a two year run as the general manager of Washington’s football team, Scot McCloughan has been fired, the team announced tonight. McCloughan’s job security has been in doubt since the start of this month when he missed the NFL Combine shortly after Dan Snyder mouthpiece Chris Cooley speculated on a radio show that McCloughan was having problems with alcohol. (McCloughan has been public in the past about alcohol abuse issues.)
Here is the team’s statement:
McCloughan looked like he was slowly being pushed out by Snyder, so this isn’t the most surprising NFL development of the day. The Skins repeatedly cited the February death of McCloughan’s 100-year-old grandmother a month ago as the reason why he has been absent from the team, but it was more likely an effort to force him to resign and give up the money owed to him on the final two years of his contract.
Washington officials claim that McCloughan had relapsed and started drinking again, and more specifically, was drunk in the locker room. Here’s a team rep talking to the Washington Post:
An official with direct knowledge of the situation attributed the decision to McCloughan’s ongoing problems with alcohol, which also led to his firing from front office positions with the San Francisco 49ers in 2010 and Seattle Seahawks in 2014.
“He’s had multiple relapses due to alcohol,” said the official, who spoke on a condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on personnel matters. “He showed up in the locker room drunk on multiple occasions. . . . This has been a disaster for 18 months.”
However, most of players the Post spoke to disputed that notion:
Of a half-dozen Redskins players reached Thursday afternoon, none said they’d ever seen McCloughan drink in the locker room. All but one said they never saw him act if he weren’t composed and in control. They added that they never felt he wasn’t able to do his job, and they seemed surprised the question was being raised.
“I don’t know what their issue is with him,” one player said, “but all the players love Scot.”
The story the team is advancing is that they hired somebody with known alcohol problems, watched him relapse for 18 months, and then fired him for those problems. They claim to have asked McCloughan to go to rehab, seemingly without success:
And it presents a narrative in which the Redskins extended McCloughan multiple opportunities at rehabilitation, without result, before giving up on the relationship.
If McCloughan has participated in several treatment programs during his Redskins employment, it’s not clear when that would have occurred because he had no extended absences from the squad. He never missed a game, was a consistent presence at spring practices, summer minicamps and August training camps.
McCloughan may have serious alcohol problems, but if it seems like Washington is smearing him on the way out of the door—and that the Post is letting them do so anonymously—well that would be straight out of the Dan Snyder playbook. And why the smearing and airing of the man and team’s dirty laundry?
Because he is being fired for cause — rather than for philosophical differences or as the result of an internal power struggle — the Redskins likely won’t have to pay him for the remaining 22 months of his contract. It’s unclear what McCloughan’s current salary is, but veteran NFL presidents and general managers typically earn in the $3 million range, plus bonuses for postseason performances.
To save a few million bucks, of course.