Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dysfunctional Hiring 101: The Washington Redskins

 A recent Washington Post article reveals in remarkable detail the hiring process by which Redskins owner, Daniel Snyder, hired Mike Shanahan as his head coach for the 2010 season. Snyder has been widely criticized for his ownership decisions with the Redskins, but this particular process shows a bizarre basis for making employment decisions, as well as almost an impetuous executive decision making process that could not help but undermine the management of the team.
Example: Snyder allowed a personal relationship with one of the players, Clinton Portis - a running back - to literally dictate the choice of head coach. Specifically, Snyder got a call from Portis' agent before the last game of the 2008 season telling Snyder that Portis wanted the then head coach, Jim Zorn, fired or else Portis would no longer play for the Redskins. The basis for the agent's demand? The fact that the coach told Portis to take his hands out of his pockets during a drill at practice. Snyder and his executive vice president of personnel literally forced Zorn to apologize to Portis.  Why Zorn didn't quit at that point is something of a mystery. Zorn had to know then, if he didn't already, that he was completely undermined and could not recover.  What a smart way to run a football team. 
Snyder kept Zorn around for the 2009 season because he was afraid it would look bad if he fired another coach (the 6th in 10 years) who finally seemed to be getting some results with the team. But the article makes clear that Snyder was set on firing Zorn and hiring Shanahan from the start of 2009 forward (another great management technique), and continued to recruit him, especially after the 'Skins lost to the then worst team in football, the Detroit Lions, in September 2009.
The machinations and decision-making process described in the article go a long way to explain why the Redskins are frequently viewed as a dysfunctional organization. The article is worth reading to get a picture of how unbusiness-like and idiosyncratic NFL management can be, even with an asset worth a billion dollars in a very public industry generating billions of dollars each year.

UPDATE:  Snyder's goofy process might well have run afoul of the current NFL hiring rule (known as the "Rooney Rule") that mandates at least the consideration of a minority candidate for a head coaching job.  Not much consideration in this process.

No comments:

Post a Comment