By Steve Czaban Special to Published Nov 17, 2004 at 5:00 AM

{image1}If you ever wanted to ruin an NFL team, but didn't know how, the Redskins under Dan Snyder are a nice little case study. In a little over five years while sitting in the big corner office at Redskin Park, Snyder has parlayed bad moves into stupid ideas, and then doubled up and tripled up his bets with chronic impatience.

That's how you get a guy like Mark Brunell on your team at age 34 for a whopping $8 million dollar up-front bonus.

If lucky, Brunell won't take another snap as a Redskin. And if that's true, he'll go down as the most expensive flop since Kevin Costner's "Waterworld." Brunell was not merely in decline this season, he was in a free fall that could peel paint off the Space Shuttle.

Hold your lunch, and let's look at the numbers. For starters, Brunell holds the NFL's worst completion percentage, which dipped below 50 percent with Sunday's one-for-eight debacle. No Redskins QB has had worse overall numbers since Heath Shuler.

And trust me on this, we don't even mention that name around here anymore.

In the final three-and-a-half quarters of Brunell's not-so-excellent adventure here under Joe Gibbs, the record will show the following stats: 2-10, 14 yards, one INT. It is nearly impossible to reproduce these numbers in the NFL outside of a controlled lab experiment.

Now that he has been benched for Patrick Ramsey, the bill for Brunell's "services" is coming due, and it's not pretty. Picture the Manhattan bachelor party dinner for twelve that you decided to pick up with your Amex in a flush moment of drunken generosity.

Plus the lappers at Scores, later.

Here it is. The Redskins have a choice:

  • A) Keep him, and hope that he resurrects himself miraculously in the off-season and wins the job clean for 2005. (What? Stop laughing. It could happen. No, really. Ah, never mind.)
  • B) Cut him after June 1, and take a $1.5 million cap hit in '05, followed by another $5 million in '06.
  • C) Cut him right after the season, and take the cap punch right in the face.

I vote "C."

It's bad enough we got snookered for a guy who sucks, but the fact that we weren't paying off our mistake while it was happening, is a cruel double whammy. Let's get this over with, and never speak of it again.

For the record, we got Brunell from the "Leigh Steinberg Store of Very Expensive and Over The Hill Quarterbacks." The same shop that we found Jeff "Leadership Is Overrated" George for four years at $18 million. George played one season and two games. In the two games in year two, George had a QB rating of 34.6 and the Redskins had been outscored 67-3.

I don't know about you, but I think it's time we lost Steinberg's number.

I am aware that many of you faithful readers up in Packerland don't care about the Redskins, and are sick of me writing to you about them.

I don't care. It's my therapy. Indulge me.

You see, episodes like this don't just "happen" randomly to NFL franchises. They are the bitter fruits of a team led by an egomaniacal boy wonder who is hugging his supposedly "beloved" team to death.

Let me try to flow chart exactly how we ended up here. In the spring of 1999, GM Charley Casserly acquires Brad Johnson from Minnesota in a trade. At the time, Sndyer was in the closing stages of getting the keys to the Skins. When he finally did, the first thing he tried to do, was reverse that trade, claiming he should have had final approval.

The NFL said, "Um, no."

So, Danny was "stuck" with Johnson, who became a Pro Bowler that season, throwing for 4,005 yards, and the most completions in team history. The Redskins went 10-6 in a soft NFC East, and made the second round of the playoffs.

We call those, the "Dan Snyder Glory Days" around here.

Once fully in control, Snyder ended up firing Casserly and then bringing in Jeff George the following year. The George deal accomplished three things. One, it pissed off Johnson to the point where his play suffered. Two, it ensured that Johnson would never re-sign as a free agent. Three, it got Norv Turner fired with a 7-6 record, because he wouldn't replace a struggling Johnson with Danny's "Toy George" in a close loss to the Giants at home that year.

Two years later, Brad Johnson hoisted the Lombardi Trophy with the Buccaneers. Danny was unavailable for comment.

George got cut by Marty Schottenheimer in Week 3, and Tony Banks took over. Banks, by the way, was acquired as a free agent that summer, and Kent Graham was also picked up "off the street" in mid-September. Marty overcame a 0-5 start, and rode Banks and Graham with one audible all the way to an 8-8 record.

It was a feat that, with the benefit of time, is only now revealing itself as a modern sports miracle.

But Marty didn't let Danny play with his franchise and basically told him to go sit in the corner. He was fired. Donald Trump, you've got nothing on this kid.

Enter Steve Spurrier, who quickly raced to secure every failed Gator QB still lurking on NFL rosters. First was Danny Wuerrfel. But he came with a cost. Casserly (remember him, the last "free-standing" non-coach GM this franchise ever had?) snapped up Wuerrfel as soon as the Spurrier signing hit the wires.

The hostage release was then agreed upon. Spurrier surrendered DT Jerry DeLoach for the pop-gunned Wuerrfel. Big deal? Well, DeLoach has yet to make the cover of S.I., that's true. But he's played in 40 consecutive games for Casserly's Texans.

Wuerrfel is now just another (bad) memory here.

While the Ol' Ball Coach was resurrecting the 1996 Florida Gator depth chart, Snyder was back playing fantasy football. Spurrier was so happy at getting both his Gators, he didn't care who Snyder drafted that year. So, with the blessings of his designated lapdog Vinny Cerrato, they took another quarterback.

In fact, the pick was made while Spurrier was in a helicopter on draft day, shuttling to FedEx Field for another Snyder-led hoo-hah marketing event. Not exactly your typical, NFL war-room focus on draft day.

So, Ramsey comes in, holds out, and Spurrier says he won't be ready to play until next year at the earliest. Wrong. Ramsey was his starter by Week 5. Fast-forward through two seasons of "5-Wide, No-Blocking" pass schemes, and Ramsey was a bruised and broken mess.

Spurrier quit, saving Snyder the trouble of impersonating Trump one more time.

Then a miracle happened, or so we thought. Gibbs decided to come back for one more fling, not to mention a pile of Snyder's bottomless "bling."

Not happy with Ramsey last winter, Joe went out to find a guy he could feel comfortable with. "Hear ye, Hear ye! We shall scour the league for the best available QB in all the land!"

The exhaustive search began with Brunell. And lucky us, Joe said: "That's it! I've found him!" At this point, Snyder had to watch his Dream Coach park his Prize QB firmly in the garage.

Was Snyder going to tell Joe, in his first month of running the team, "No, we don't want to give up a draft pick for him"? Or that $8 million up front was way too much? Of course not. Snyder aimed to please. Part stung by the criticism of his meddling ways, and part motivated to serve the Redskins' beloved legend, the deal got done quicker than renting a car from Avis.

There wasn't a general manager anywhere in sight.

So, here we are. If Ramsey plays well from here on out, he'll be the starter in 2005 and a free agent next January. If not, then we'll be back to square one, possibly drafting a QB in April.

So there. That's how we got here. Now, I am going to go somewhere dark, and have a good cry.

Steve Czaban Special to

Steve is a native Washingtonian and has worked in sports talk radio for the last 11 years. He worked at WTEM in 1993 anchoring Team Tickers before he took a full time job with national radio network One-on-One Sports.

A graduate of UC Santa Barbara, Steve has worked for WFNZ in Charlotte where his afternoon show was named "Best Radio Show." Steve continues to serve as a sports personality for WLZR in Milwaukee and does fill-in hosting for Fox Sports Radio.