Photo courtesy of the Washington Redskins
The high expectations that go along with being the Washington Redskins' executive vice president and general manager — picture thousands of loyal fans crossing their fingers for a winning season (especially after 2009's 4-12 disaster) would be a heavy weight for almost anyone, but for Bruce Allen, this kind of pressure runs in the family. The son of former coach George Allen, who never let the team have a losing season from 1971 to 1977, Bruce Allen joined the Skins franchise late last year after managing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Oakland Raiders. He began this season with a new head coach, Mike Shanahan, and a new starting quarterback, Donovan McNabb, who was released by the Philadelphia Eagles. A University of Richmond graduate and record-breaking punter on the school's football team, Allen is also the brother of former Virginia governor and U.S. senator George Allen.
Q: The goal for any NFL team is to win. How do you plan to position the Redskins to be a winning team this year?
A: [You] get the most competent coach you can. We worked on the infrastructure in the off-season. We tried to upgrade the team at every position we could. We feel like we have the right infrastructure to build a winning program.
Q: What was your first official act with the Redskins?
A: Meet the current coaches who were on the staff and then get with the training staff. The trainers usually have a great feel for the team. Then I met with everybody else in the building by department.
Q: The Skins beat the Cowboys in your opening game. How did that feel?
A: [ Allen laughs heartily ] Being the first game of the season and making it Dallas and being on Sunday night, it was special. You could feel it at FedEx Field. It was rocking. It was the highest ratings ever for a Sunday-night game.
Q: Was your brother at the game?
A: George was at the game. It was great having him and his family here to hold my wife's hand when I am not there during the game.
Q: Can you give me an example of how you and your brother George differ politically?
A: I'm not as educated on those subjects. I'm not sure how I would differ. Being a businessman, I am financially conservative.
Q: There's been a lot of hype about Donovan McNabb. Is he living up to your expectations?
A: Without a doubt. The best part of acquiring him is that he is a terrific leader. He oozes charisma. To get the name was as valuable as the talent.
Q: When nose tackle Albert Haynesworth kept failing or not taking the conditioning test during training camp, how did you and Coach Mike Shanahan feel about that?
A: It got a lot more play in the media than it took up time in the meeting room. We knew he would pass at some point.
Q: Would you have hired Haynesworth?
A: You can't go back in time and change things. We are counting on Albert to play well for us.
Q: How involved is owner Daniel Snyder in day-to-day decisions?
A: In decisions, he's not — other than hiring Mike and myself to make the decisions. He has been one of our greatest fans.
Q: Do you think former Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden is going to coach the Dallas Cowboys next year?
A: I think Coach Gruden is going to be an Emmy Award-winning broadcaster.
Q: When the Redskins hired you as general manager, what became your plan for restoring order to the franchise?
A: The key is everybody in the organization paddling in the same direction with the same purpose and passion. We have it going in the right way. I hope that the coaches and players come through in executing game plans.
Q: Do you know all the words to "Hail to the Redskins"?
A: I know the main verse.
Q: What's your favorite hobby?
A: Anything involving the ocean — boating, body surfing. I love the water.
Q: What's the biggest lesson you learned from your dad?
A: Work hard.
Q: What was it like growing up in the Allen family? I would imagine the expectations were high.
A: It's exciting being around the players your entire life. It was a special treat. It was great insight [into] the way that people think around the country. I learned geography through the players' colleges.
Q: What's your fondest memory of growing up in the Allen household?
A: New Year's Eve 1972, when Washington beat the Cowboys in the NFC Championship game.
Q: Are you ever in awe of any of players?
A: I have tremendous respect for their athletic ability or drive. That's really special. [Players like] Jerry Rice and Deacon Jones — you could see what makes people great. It's more a respect and insight. The passion to be great makes you great.
Q: Have you had the chance to get to a University of Richmond football game?
A: I never have, because I have been involved in football. The season flows at the same time. I did get back to campus in the spring. This year might be the first time I have the ability to go.