ASHBURN, Va. – Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen never says much, unless he's talking about the franchise's history or his work with alumni players.
So, here's a question for him: At what point does he expect Donovan McNabb and Albert Haynesworth to become Redskins alumni?
Allen laughed heartily and answered: "No time soon."
Allen spent 30 minutes in a rare session with the team's beat writers Thursday and, as usual, didn't reveal much. He wouldn't discuss the team's plans for McNabb or Haynesworth, wouldn't talk about how the impending lockout might affect the team's offseason plans. He instead offered gems such as: "I can't tell you how happy I am with the attitude of the football team."
Despite his title, Allen isn't the person in charge of player personnel matters at Redskins Park. That authority belongs to coach Mike Shanahan, who also holds the title of executive vice president. Allen comes across more as an ambassador-at-large, a connection to the team's glory days that began when his father, George Allen, was coach in the 1970s.
Allen watched from afar over the last two decades as the Redskins became known more for ridicule than for winning. He and Shanahan were supposed to reverse that trend and bring a new professionalism and respect to the franchise.
So far, not so good. The Redskins finished 6-10 and bore the brunt of nationwide embarrassment in disputes with Haynesworth and McNabb, their two highest-profile players. Allen and the front office looked especially behind the curve during 24 hours of confusion that followed the signing of a new contract by McNabb in November, leading again to the impression that the Redskins still don't have their act together.
Allen tried to downplay the dramas. Asked about the team image in general, he said: "We made some progress. We're not where the Redskins and the fans have been in the past. But that's our goal."
"We have new coaches. ... When you put a new scheme in an offense and a defense, everyone's got to learn to grow together," Allen said. "It's not corny to call it a family that's got to learn to live with a new roommate, and that's what we're doing now. We're making those steps toward the Redskins being a better team."
The Redskins sent two draft picks to Philadelphia in April for McNabb, but the six-time Pro Bowl quarterback was a disappointment and was benched with three games to go in the regular season, setting off a flurry of tit-for-tat public exchanges involving McNabb, McNabb's agent, Shanahan and Shanahan's son, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.
Allen said he's had talks with the agent, but there's virtually no expectation that McNabb will be with the team next season.
"When we made the decision to trade for Donovan, based on what we knew and what we were looking at, it was the right decision," Allen said. "How we perform in the future will determine (if it was). No one's goal was to win six games."
Haynesworth was suspended for the final four games after months of clashes with Shanahan. Despite the damaged relationship, Allen tried to keep the door open for Haynesworth's return.
"We were hopeful that he was going to help the team win," Allen said, "and we remain hopeful that he can help the team win."