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Bruce Allen vs. the Media - Why the Redskins Always Lose!

March 29, 2017
In the last 24 hours or so, the two key figures that most fans, customers and media identify as the face of the Washington Redskins spoke at length while at the annual league meeting in Arizona.

Jay Gruden met with the media for almost an hour Tuesday night, a league-mandated media availability. We’ll cover what he said in another post.

Bruce Allen did a series of one-on-one interviews with reporters on Sunday and said a bunch of things but didn’t give a whole lot of detail.

He talked about the team wanting clarity by firing Scot McCloughan. They got it, but as usual, the customer base for the Redskins didn’t get any.

On ESPN 980, a Dan Snyder owned and Washington Redskins controlled radio station, Allen spoke for a longer period with Kevin Sheehan and Chris Cooley via phone Tuesday.

Something that caught my attention per Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post & the D.C. Sports Bog is Allen explaining or trying to explain how things went down.

1 – Allen said about the gutless anonymous official that stabbed Scot McCloughan in the back on the way out the door, the night of his firing – “Anyone who knows me knows that ‘sources’ and rumors and all of those type of things isn’t part of our game plan at all.”

My Spin: Bruce Allen is mostly right. Their game plan is to throw the ball 45 times and run it 12 times against good defenses. Oh? Not that kind of game-plan? Sorry I was confused.

I don’t know if Allen was the anonymous official who provided the dagger to McCloughan via the Washington Post or not. I have my suspicions because of certain connections, as do many.

Allen refuses to have an open and two-way relationship with the local Redskins media, because for some strange reason, he doesn’t understand how it can completely help him.

He has no problem having a great relationship with several members of the national media. It’s believed that he chooses that route to carry whatever message he wants to share.

Some believe Kirk Cousins’ “trade-demand” got twisted and disseminated by Allen via Chris Mortensen.

Again, I don’t know exactly about that. I do know that Allen holds grudges against certain reporters, like Adam Schefter of ESPN. Go figure!

Also, I’ll never forget the day in training camp 2015 down in Richmond – when I had a brief exchange with Allen. I asked him for his new cell phone number because the one he had for several years no longer worked.

He politely said, no. Curt Menefee from FOX NFL Sunday approached right after this, had a warm greeting and welcome from Allen, then asked for his cell phone number. Allen happily obliged.

It was the type of thing that has become the norm and part of the reason why the Redskins are so sharply criticized. Allen has no relationship with the local media outside of a casual hello and smile, that comes off about as sincere as shaking hands and kissing babies at a  political pep rally.  This is not on the media. We've tried. He won't allow it. It would help him an awful lot.

So what’s the point? Allen says he doesn’t do sources and rumors, that they are not a part of ‘our’ game plan. That is true, to a large degree. He constantly threatens his top officials to not talk to the media off-the-record, with their jobs. It has been a staple of the  Allen regime. They'll deny this but it is 200% true and I've had multiple officials tell me this over the years. 

It’s part of the reason why McCloughan was fired. He simply would not stop talking to the media on or off-the-record.

The part that is in question is this: If the Redskins don’t plan to do this or participate in this – it’s interesting how that unnamed official found out what was going on, described Redskins Park and McCloughan’ s mess as a “disaster for 18 months” along with McCloughan showing up in the locker room drunk.  At about the same time, a confirmation statement from the team was provided to confirm the firing.

The Redskins did not have to provide a team-issued statement or confirm the firing to the Post. They could have done it later or on their own. Instead, they essentially corroborated what the report said and were caught with their hands and feet in the cookie jar.

Furthermore, the Washington Post clearly stated that the person who provided the quote was "an official with direct knowledge of the situation." Not a team official, not an employee of the Redskins. A matter of semantics probably, but this is how untrustworthy the Redskins are.

EVERYONE knows that quote came from the Redskins and somebody of high authority. EVERYONE knows that it didn't come from some dope in the league office or from some random "official with direct knowledge of the situation." 

Allen and the Redskins are so untrustworthy, that this distinction has been reported as fact. There's nobody in the local or even national media (outside of me) that even seems to notice this. They simply say a "Redskins official" or a "Redskins source" or something similiar. There's no benefit of the doubt because there's no trust or faith. 

It was a smoke screen that back-fired miserably, because the Redskins do not operate like a normal organization does. That's on Allen. He was supposed to fix this, not make it worse. 

The organization's public perception (reality) has turned from a mountain of simmering volcanic activity into a full-blown avalanche of disaster under Allen's leadership.

Amazing how that just happens. 

2 - As a follow-up, Allen told Cooley & Sheehan “If anyone ever has something that they think is a valuable quote, put your name to it. I can live with people putting their names to anything they want to say.”

My Spin: Well, well Bruce. We know that’s not true. Jay Gruden only speaks to the media as much as he does, during the season, because he’s required to do so. 

The Redskins would not ALLOW Scot McCloughan to talk at all after the season, or at the Senior Bowl.

When was the last time that director of pro personnel, Alex Santos was interviewed? Scott Campbell?

When Morocco Brown was here, he was never allowed to be interviewed.

Assistant coaches are only allowed to be interviewed on select occasions, which I understand to some degree, but the Redskins miss the most important element to a good, honest, open dialogue and relationship with the media.

They think they are helping the media or hurting the media alone. No. They are hurting their fan base or customer$. The people that spend thousands and thousands of dollars that are dismayed at the direction of the franchise and weighing their options on whether to keep spending their money on the product.

The other part is this: The Redskins have NEVER understood, under any leadership in the modern era, that a good relationship with the media automatically guarantees more favorable and balanced coverage.

Players like Kirk Cousins, Trent Williams, Jordan Reed, DeAngelo Hall and Josh Norman get it. The Redskins executive branch does not get it and never will.

Lorenzo Alexander, who had 12.5 sacks last year in Buffalo and won the Pro Bowl MVP, recently told me on 106.7 the FAN that it was always important for him to have a great relationship with the media, because we shape public opinion and can help carry a player’s individualized or team-driven message or agenda.

He's absolutely one-thousand percent correct.

The Redskins refuse to realize one simple thing: The media is a direct conduit to their customer$ and they have the chance to shape and formulate the message before speculation, theories and criticism runs wild.

They almost always choose to wait, stall or bypass the opportunity to provide their perspective until it’s too late. Sunday and this week was too late. 

Also, by being more transparent and open/helpful – the Redskins would buy themselves one very important thing that they’ve never had and probably will never have.

A media group that can help defend them & shape the message that things are not as bad as they appear. That the organization is stable. That the future is bright.

Many members of the media (myself included) can shape a much more favorable message when you have great relationships with key figures and when you feel that they are being honest and forth coming.

There’s NOBODY in the local media that feels the Redskins and specifically Allen are even close to that.

As smart as Allen is, he has never understood this very simple solution. There wouldn’t be any unnamed officials making the organization look terrible if they were up-front and candid, if they controlled the message from the start.

The Redskins reputation and way of conducting business hurts them every day. If they were more transparent, they could have said something as simple as “Scot McCloughan was fired because of conduct detrimental to the team.” There still would be questions and the unknown, but how much better does that sound than what they said. Oh, I'm sorry. What a "official with direct knowledge of the situation' said. 

They should study how the Nationals, Capitals and Wizards media covers those teams and how those organizations handle their business. There’s never any of this nonsense. There’s no sharks in the water on those beats or with the coverage of those clubs. It’s a healthy, mutually beneficial relationship.

Sadly, that’s not the case with the Redskins because of their arrogance and their (Bruce Allen's) refusal to realize that the message can be a lot more favorable, if they did things the way they should. 

Chris Russell has covered the Washington Redskins for eight seasons for multiple media outlets and was a part of the Redskins Radio Network broadcast team for five years. He covers the Redskins for Monumental Sports Network ( & Warpath Magazine. Listen to Chris on Washington D.C.'s # 1 sports radio station, 106.7 The FAN