Dan Graziano | ESPN.com
As speculation mounts about Mike Shanahan’s future in Washington, details have emerged about the coach’s dissatisfaction with the relationship between owner Dan Snyder and quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Disillusioned with the way Snyder was running the organization, Shanahan cleaned out his office in advance of January’s wild-card playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks and expected to leave the team whenever the season ended, according to a source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The source said Shanahan had grown tired of the way Snyder empowered Griffin and openly esteemed him above all other players. Shanahan didn’t blame Griffin but did blame Snyder for creating an atmosphere that Shanahan did not believe was conducive to winning. Shanahan privately told people close to him that he felt Snyder’s behavior with regard to Griffin was a “complete farce.”
In spite of that, Shanahan believed he would be leaving the team on a very positive note, as the Redskins had won the NFC East in his third year as their coach and were preparing for a playoff run. He believed the team had come together and shown strong character during the seven-game winning streak on which it ended the regular season.
But when Griffin injured his knee in that playoff loss, a source said, Shanahan changed his plans. He believed leaving at that point was no longer an option. He didn’t want the general public, or possibly even his players, to think he left because of Griffin’s injury.
Contacted this weekend about this information, Shanahan declined to comment.
Through team spokesman Tony Wyllie, the Redskins said, “That story is ridiculous.”
A team source said Shanahan had grown weary by January of the way Snyder treated Griffin, empowering his quarterback and helping make him feel bigger than the team. The issue apparently carried over into the offseason and into this season.
Snyder regularly sent his security team to accompany Griffin when he went out in Washington. Snyder’s personal driver was spotted picking up Griffin’s then-fiancee (now wife) at road games.
But it wasn’t just Snyder’s relationship with Griffin that irked Shanahan. It was also the way in which he dealt with employees who had less star power than his star quarterback, sources said. After Kirk Cousins relieved an injured Griffin last December in Cleveland and led Washington to a 38-21 victory over the Browns, players and coaches spotted Snyder standing at the quarterbacks’ lockers, talking only to Griffin while, one source said, Snyder “didn’t acknowledge” Cousins.
The strain in the Shanahan-Snyder relationship is one of several negative backdrops to a season gone wrong in Washington, and the question now is what happens with Shanahan at season’s end.
Those who know him believe that, if he was willing to walk away last season, he might be willing to do the same this offseason. Snyder also could decide to fire him.
Either way, it appears a breakup is inevitable. Shanahan has one year left on his contract, and the Redskins are struggling through a disappointing season at 3-9. As a result of the 2012 trade that allowed the Redskins to draft Griffin, the team doesn’t even have a first-round draft pick in 2014. The Rams hold that pick, which, if the season ended Sunday, would be the No. 2 pick overall.
- Joined ESPN in 2011
- New Jersey native and author of two published novels