(USA Today Sports Images)
The only question in Washington, after numerous media leaks and feuds, was not if Mike Shanahan would be fired, but when.
The answer? Monday morning, the day after the Redskins finished a 3-13 season with a loss at the New York Giants. Shanahan was the second firing on "Black Monday," following Minnesota's Leslie Frazier. Cleveland let coach Rob Chudzinski go on Sunday night.
The Washington Post's Mike Jones was the first to report the news of Shanahan being fired.
Mike Shanahan and his staff have been fired.
— Mike Jones (@MikeJonesWaPo) December 30, 2013
Shanahan was one of the highest paid coaches in pro sports, at a reported salary of about $7 million a year. Because Shanahan was fired, the Redskins will presumably pay him $7 million to not coach their team anymore.
The question becomes, where does Shanahan go from here?
Shanahan was one considered to be on the fast track for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. After a failed stint with the Raiders, he latched on with the Denver Broncos and brought the franchise unprecedented success. He guided the team to its first two, and still its only two, Super Bowl titles. That bought him plenty of goodwill with owner Pat Bowlen, and plenty of job security despite rarely having any success after John Elway retired.
From the point John Elway retired after the 1998 season to now, Shanahan has won one playoff game, in 2005 with the Broncos against the Patriots. And the Broncos followed that up by being upset by sixth-seeded Pittsburgh at home with a Super Bowl on the line.
Shanahan followed that up with a terrible and tumultuous stint with the Redskins. His 24-40 record in four seasons with Washington won't be what people remember best. It will be how Robert Griffin III blew out his ACL on Shanahan's watch last season, after the rookie quarterback was obviously hobbled during a playoff game against Seattle. Griffin came back for the season opener this year, but obviously was behind in his development after an offseason rehabbing his knee.
Shanahan said he thought the team was on the rise, then the team was hit with a $36 million salary-cap penalty for overspending during an uncapped year. The Redskins defense, in particular, suffered from the salary-cap penalties.
"When we got that $36 million hit, we weren't able to get some of those players we wanted to get," Shanahan said.
Now where does Shanahan go? At age 61, with one playoff win over the past 15 NFL seasons and a treacherous end in Washington that included a lot of in-fighting with owner Daniel Snyder, it's uncertain who if anyone will give him another shot to lead a NFL team.
It's certainly a long drop for the coach who once looked like he might go down as one of the game's greats. But, the 1998 season was a long time ago.
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