ASHBURN, Va. -- Seldom has a promotion produced less of a response than Washington's naming of Vinny Cerrato as its executive vice president of football operations, but don't kid yourself: That shouldn't diminish the significance of the move.
|The addition of Todd Collins has been a positive one for Vinny Cerrato and the Redskins. (Getty Images)|
It was Cerrato who swung the votes in favor of Jim Zorn.
It was Cerrato who headed the search for the team's new public relations director, too. It was Cerrato who urged owner Daniel Snyder to avoid the free-agent frenzy. And it will be Cerrato who takes the wheel for the club's next spin around the NFL Draft.
"I have a lot more say-so," he said.
Well, then, it's about time.
Nobody has been more of a survivor in Washington than Vinny Cerrato. He was there when Norv Turner led Washington to the 1999 playoffs. He was jettisoned by Turner's successor, Marty Schottenheimer in 2001, and then re-hired the moment Schottenheimer left a year later.
He was there after Steve Spurrier departed, and now he's not only around following Joe Gibbs' exit; he's moved up in the ranks. Look around the Redskins' building, and, next to Snyder, it's Cerrato who has the most juice -- with the new executive VP already making an impact.
"It's the first time in the Dan Snyder era," said one agent, "that there's a sense of a game plan. It's a good move for Washington because Vinny Cerrato is where he was in San Francisco and where he's been at his best, and that's the draft process."
Ah, yes, San Francisco and the draft. Cerrato took more than his share of the heat in his eight years with the 49ers, with cynics hammering him for first-round failures like Jim Druckenmiller and J.J. Stokes.
OK, so he missed. Big deal.
What they forget is that he was behind the drafts of defensive linemen Dana Stubblefield and Bryant Young; that he found Pro Bowl linebacker Lee Woodall in the sixth round; pushed for Pro Bowl quarterback Elvis Grbac in the eighth and uncovered Pro Bowl cornerback R.W. McQuarters.
Then there's that unknown receiver out of Tennessee-Chattanooga he found in the third round of the 1996 draft. Would Terrell Owens please step forward?