Do it the right way

Published 11:26 am Saturday, December 19, 2009

I am, as of right this minute (Friday, 5 p.m.), the Sports Editor of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald and Gates County Index.

If by some chance, News-Herald Editor Cal Bryant calls you to discuss the possibility of taking on that role, please do me the courtesy of telling me or at least telling him you won’t discuss a job that is occupied.

While I know that it wouldn’t ever happen, the above scenario plays itself out in many, many organizations in pro sports and likely in other businesses as well. It has become a black eye on the business of professional sports.

On Friday, The Denver Post reported that former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan was in discussions with Washington Redskins General Manager Bruce Allen about becoming the coach of the Redskins.

There is only one problem with this situation: Jim Zorn is already serving as coach of the Washington Redskins. He has neither resigned, retired or been dismissed from his post.

While he was one of my favorite players during his days with the Seattle Seahawks, I can’t defend Zorn’s record as coach of the Redskins. His team is 4-9 with three games left to play this season and his 12-17 record in two seasons is underwhelming.

Still, as of today, Zorn is officially employed as coach of the Redskins. There has been no announcement that he will not return next year and he is running the team as they prepare for Monday night’s contest with the New York Giants.

My problem with the report by the Post is two-fold, assuming it is true. One, I think it shows a lack of class on the Redskins part, both for Allen and team owner Daniel Snyder.

If Zorn is not going to be the coach next season, he should be so informed and so should the public. Allowing the reports of this search to become public are certainly embarrassing, both to the organization and to Zorn. If they truly like Zorn as much as they claim, embarrassing him should be the last thing they want to do.

The other is simply the strain it puts on the organization. If a change is imminent, then the people employed by the Redskins – namely players, assistant coaches and other personnel – should be told. They shouldn’t be left wondering what is going on while rumors circulate in newspapers nationwide.

It seems to be a growing trend that current coaches, general managers and others are left swaying in the wind so to speak. The courtesy owed to employees is not observed because they won’t be employees much longer.

While a company or business may not feel it owes out-going employees much in the way of respect, they should at least show some respect to those who will remain and to those who use their product – in this case the Redskins’ fans.

Conduct yourself with class and dignity and it will show through the entire organization. There are many Redskins fans throughout this region and today I’m guessing they are taking some needling from fans of the rival Cowboys.

While Dallas’ coaching situation is also tenuous, at least they aren’t letting it be known that they’re moving in another direction while a coach and his players continue to work on the current season.

Thadd White is Sports Editor and Staff Writer of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald and Gates County Index. He can be reached via email at