Mike Shanahan to D.C.: Will he be the seventh flop head coach for Redskins owner Daniel Snyder?

It's semi-official: Mike Shanahan is the new head coach of the Washington Redskins.

But while Shanny will certainly be making some nice bank, he must also deal with an enormous headache shaped exactly like Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, who, since acquiring the franchise in 1999, has made a habit of hiring big name coaches -- and promptly driving them crazy.

Let's look at some of the cadavers in the Redskins head-coaching mortuary, shall we, Mikey?

The man at the helm when Snyder became head Skin was Norv Turner, currently overseeing the smokin' hot San Diego Chargers. In D.C., however, Turner managed a winning percentage of .454 from 1994 to 2000 -- not good enough for Snyder. So heave-ho!

Next victim: Terry Robiskie, who finished the 2000 season for Turner. Under his tutelage, the team went 1-2 -- not that Snyder thought seriously about giving him a chance to do the job fulltime. He wanted someone more noteworthy -- like, for instance...

Marty Schottenheimer, a man with some of the gaudiest coaching stats ever in the NFL regular season, in contrast to his mediocre playoff numbers. But he never really got the chance to break that trend in Washington. He was one and done for the Skins, going 8-8 in 2001.

After that, Snyder reached out to legendary college coach Steve Spurrier, who clearly felt he had something to prove by jumping into the pro world. What he wound up demonstrating, however, is that he belonged in the college ranks. Two seasons, a .375 winning percentage and a swift departure that no doubt came as a blessed relief.

From there, Snyder lured back Joe Gibbs, arguably the greatest coach in Redskins history. But it's tough to shine with Dan the Man on your back and down your throat on a constant basis, and even the gentlemanly Gibbs didn't manage to do so. Yes, the Skins returned to the playoffs, but the team won fewer than half its games under Joe 2.0, who seemed to age about a decade and a half in the three years he worked for Snyder.

After that came former QB Jim Zorn, who'd never been a head coach before -- although a quarter-century's worth of such experience couldn't have prepared him for dealing with Snyder. He cut Zorn's arms and legs out from under him this season and then left him to squirm around like a Monty Python knight too depressed to bother trying to bite anyone. Bet the first time he smiled in months was after Snyder sacked him.

This is the legacy with which Shanahan must contend, and he'll have a helluva time overcoming it. He's a terrific offensive coach -- or at least he was in his prime. But his personnel decisions have been shaky at times, and while he'll reportedly have the last say about who comes aboard, there's a good chance this license will be revoked at some point in light of Snyder's legendary impatience.

That's why Shanahan had better win early and often in Washington. Because if he doesn't, he'll be the next famous name to tarnish his reputation by brushing up against the Al Davis of his generation.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts