Ashburn, Va. • Mike Shanahan called it a "circus atmosphere."
He didn’t have to. Washington fans already know the drill.
From "maroon and black" to "bingo," from Spurrier to Zorn, Robert Griffin III’s benching this week fits right in with the narrative that’s been spun during Dan Snyder’s 14 years as owner, the latest in an amazing string of surreal moments from the still-young 21st century.
Here are 10 of the most memorable, all of which were worthy of one reaction: "Well, that was awkward."
Pay for practice • When the team decided to charge fans to watch training camp practice in 2000, then-team president Steve Baldacci claimed the $10 charge — plus $10 for parking — was comparable to that of other teams. After it was shown that no one else charged to watch practice, Baldacci backtracked.
Vinny bolts • Vinny Cerrato, Snyder’s right-hand man in the front office, had a mixed record with roster management. The most confusing day came in 2000, when Cerrato cut Chad Dukes because he didn’t know suspended guard Tre Johnson wouldn’t take a roster spot. As reporters approached Cerrato to ask about the error, he left through a side door and drove off. Dukes was back on the team hours after he was cut.
Who’s calling the shots? • Snyder fired then-coach Norv Turner late in the 2000 season despite the team’s 7-6 record. The owner was reportedly ready to hire former college coach Pepper Rodgers as Turner’s replacement — until assistant coaches Terry Robiskie and Ray Rhodes rebelled. Rodgers instead became VP of football operations; Robiskie was promoted to head coach.
‘We weren’t the worst’ • Of al Steve Spurrier’s classic moments, the unrivaled winner was his 2003 farewell news conference, where he said: "OK, we wound up 5-11. Not very good. But … we weren’t the worst team in the league." Spurrier resigned two days later, then claimed he didn’t, then acknowledged he had.
‘Maroon and black’ • Jim Zorn was clearly unprepared to be the head coach, and it showed at his introductory news conference in 2008. He referred to the team’s colors as "maroon and black" instead of "burgundy and gold" and lauded an assistant coach the team had recently fired. He lasted two seasons.
Bingo! • Cerrato said he had no idea what Sherm Lewis was up to when he coaxed the longtime NFL assistant out of retirement in 2009 to help a floundering offense. Lewis, who had been out of the NFL for nearly five years, explained the next day: "I had to go to the senior center and cancel my bingo calling and … my Meals on Wheels."
Snyder and the band • Snyder is well-known for finding convenient ways to end conversatios with reporters. In 2009, the team was so bad that he felt the need to apologize at a charity event. But it was interrupted when a high-school marching band walked by playing at full volume. Snyder, recognizing a good exit cue, walked away, leaving unanswered a meaty query about Zorn.
Condition critical • Albert Haynesworth announced his arrival by saying, "You’re not going to remember Albert Haynesworth as a bust." Amid constant legal trouble, he needed 10 days to pass a conditioning test at the start of ’10 camp.
Conditioning part II • Shanahan is the same coach who sat another marquee QB, Donovan McNabb, in the fourth quarter of a 2010 game, citing McNabb’s lack of "cardiovascular endurance" in the two-minute drill. The truth, Shanahan later acknowledged, was that McNabb simply wasn’t playing very well.
Normally, I’d lie to you • In an impassioned Wednesday news conference, Shanahan dug deep to explain why he benched Griffin, especially after spending several weeks saying RGIII should be getting crucial game experience. In doing so, the often tight-lipped Shanahan dropped an instant contender for the coach-quote Hall of Fame: "What I’m trying to do is be as honest as I can. And I don’t normally do that."
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