Sunday, August 07, 2005

Gibbs: Bigger Man Than I

I consider myself a pretty nice guy, exhibiting a measured, calculated love for the Washington Redskins. I try to be fair in my criticisms of trades, draft picks, and gametime decisions, understanding that it's a lot harder to perform than critique. I know that professionalism and sportsmanship are qualities that any leader should exemplify; surely a leader should take the high road.

There are some things, however, that a Redskins coach should not do. First, never sacrifice promising players and the future for a one-shot run at the playoffs. Jack Pardee did that back in 1980, in opposition to general manager Bobby Beathard, and owner Jack Kent Cooke gave Pardee the axe when the team started out 3-10. Second, never fail to respect and communicate with your players in training camp . Marty Schottenheimer admitted he didn't keep the lines open, and his team gave up on him in 2001. And the less that is said of Steve Spurrier's catastrohpically myopic approach to professional football, the better.

Those are bad moves. But there is one thing a Redskins head coach should never, ever do.


Apologize to Dallas Cowchip fans.

During Fan Appreciation Day, His Joeness stood before his team's fans, laughed and said the following:
"I know we don't have any Dallas people here. They're the ugliest people in the world."
Now we all know that Dallas fans aren't the ugliest people of the world. That's obviously an exaggeration, like saying that "Battlefield Earth" was the worst movie ever made, or that Phil Hartman was the greatest SNL member ever. It's probably true, but reasonable minds may disagree.

But Joe Gibbs is a devout man of faith, kind and considerate to all. Much to my disappointment, he really didn't mean to smack-talk about the Big D faithful, which would've taken me, if only for a moment, back to the 1970s and 80s, Beat Dallas Weeks, and seriously bad blood between two stellar franchises. Remember when Washington fans chanted "we want Dallas!" and the Dallas and Washington mascot guys (did they ever get a paycheck?) would shove and point fingers at each other in the stands? What 'bout those days?

The moment was lost when, on Saturday, Gibbs addressed the media with the following:

``I tried to make a joke,'' Gibbs said. ``I was joking. It didn't come out probably like a joke or like it should've. I hope all my buddies in Dallas -- because I've got a lot of buddies down there -- took it the right way. I hope they thought it was a joke.

``But if they didn't think it was a joke, or if anybody took it the wrong way other than a joke, when you make a mistake like that, you've got to apologize. So I apologize to anybody that might have taken it the other way.''

Compare that to what the late George Allen said of the Cowchips:"This is the year Dallas falls from grace, and the Redskins are going to be the ones doing the pushing." Before a game against Dallas quarterback Roger Staubach, Allen warned "He will scramble at his own risk."

That's old-school, from the heart, smack-talk. The kind that might rally players, but would instead galvanize the Redskins faithful while infuriating Cowchip fans. Honestly, given the state of the rivalry, we need some old-fashioned finger-wagging and bravado. Ain't that football?

In sum: Redskins coaches can concede a loss, praise a worthy opponent, even ogle their cheerleaders. But you must never, ever apologize to their fans.

I plan to place a "But Dallas fans are ugly!" banner at FedEx, first chance I get. Sorry, Joe.

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