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If You Want to Talk Cheating, Talk About George Allen
by Andy Pollin
Jan 25, 2015 -- 12:47pm
ESPN 980

So now that Bill Belichick has gone part Bill Nye the science guy and part Roger Ebert with a “My Cousin Vinny” reference as he defended his team in Deflategate, it’s time to look back on a coach who really did cheat – and got away with it.

 

His name was George Allen, father of current Redskins president Bruce Allen and coach of the Skins from 1971 to 1977.  As a matter of fact, George once denied knowing Bruce when a referee wanted to give the Redskins a 15-yard penalty because Bruce was on a spot on the field he shouldn’t have been.  But that was only lying, not cheating.

 

The cheating was so blatant, 40 years later, the most amazing thing is how George Allen got away with it, not to mention the chutzpah to even try it.  Author Jonathan Rand laid out the story quite well in his book, “300 Pounds of Attitude”, a collection of behind-the-scenes stories of the NFL.  Rand writes:

 

“In his first six months with the Redskins, Allen acquired 15 players and four draft picks.  He made 19 trades before his first season, and 81 during his seven years in D.C.

 

Before his first season, Allen twice traded his second, third and fourth round picks for 1973.  He used his legitimate second rounder to compensate the Jets for the signing of free agent Verlon Biggs.  He then traded that same pick again to the Rams for Richie Petitbon.  The two other picks went to Buffalo for Ron McDole.  And he used those picks again to get Speedy Duncan from San Diego.

 

The Redskins made the playoffs before Allen was caught double dipping.  Caught red handed like George Costanza, Allen tried ignorance as an excuse (I threw in the Seinfeld reference).  Said the coach without the slightest bit of regret, “There was no intent to deceive.  It was just a matter of a million and one things to do with a team we had just taken over and trying to do them all at the same time.”

 

Commissioner Pete Rozelle didn’t buy that explanation.  He said Allen had traded draft choices twice when he coached the Rams, but wasn’t penalized because his trading partners would always agree to quick settlements.  Rozelle fined the Redskins $5,000 dollars, made Allen compensate the Bills and Chargers with legit draft picks and dressed down Allen at an owners meeting in New York.”

 

Even then, five grand wasn’t going to break the Redskins bank.  And what the heck, Allen never gave a damn about draft picks anyway.  Biggs, Petitbon, McDole and Duncan were all big contributors to the Redskins Wild Card spot in ’71 – their first trip to the playoffs in a quarter of a century.  I’d call it a win, win for King George.

 

Espionage was another favorite tactic for Allen.  Besides bringing a bunch of his Rams players with him soon after arriving in Washington (they called them the “Ramskins”), Allen brought his own security guy from the west coast.  Ed Boynton was his name.  They called him “Double O”, a reference to James Bond.  Boynton’s job was to circle the practice field both at training camp and at Redskins Park to make sure nobody was spying on the team.  Though he was in his 70’s, “Double O” made his rounds on a bicycle. 

 

But while Allen may have been paranoid of being spied on, he didn’t mind doing some spying of his own.  And he got caught, too.  Before the Cowboys moved into their current training facility that they call Valley Ranch, the team trained at a spot on the north side of Dallas.  A high-rise hotel faced out on to the practice field.  As I was told when I worked in Dallas in the early 80’s, one year, the week before playing Dallas, Allen had one of his scouts check into a room that had a view of the practice field.  Furious Cowboys coach Tom Landry got wind of it and tried to get Rozelle to do something about it.  Apparently there were no rules in place forbidding scouts from certain rooms in certain hotels.  For the rest of the time Allen coached in Washington, every time the teams played, the Cowboys would buy out all the rooms that faced the field.

 

Allen’s been dead for nearly 25 years.  Somewhere he must be laughing about all this fuss over deflated footballs.  He must think it’s so minor league.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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History That Almost Wasn't For Seattle
by Andy Pollin
Jan 19, 2015 -- 1:47pm
ESPN 980

Some numbers from Seattle’s stunning overtime victory over Green Bay in the NFC championship game:

 

71 – the number of seconds that the Seahawks led in regulation the entire game

 

16 – the number of points the Seahawks trailed by at halftime.  The second half comeback is the largest in a championship game since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.

 

9  - the number of points the Seahawks trailed by going into the 4th quarter.  They are the first team win a championship game in which they trailed by at least seven in the 4th quarter.

 

31 – the number of years since an NFC team went to back-to-back Super Bowls as a number one seed.

 

Last team to do that?  The Redskins in 1982 and 83.  But in that repeat year, they came dangerously close to dwarfing the above ugly Packers numbers in the NFC Championship game at RFK against San Francisco.

 

The game was played January 8, 1964.  The Redskins had been virtually unbeatable during the 1983 season.  They’d lost only two games by one point each and had set a record by scoring 541 points in 16 games.  Their divisional playoff game the week before against the Rams was a laugher.  The Skins won 51-7 with three touchdowns from John Riggins, capped off with Darrell Green’s 72-yard pick six of Vince Ferragamo in the 4th quarter.  They were as hot as any team has been going into a championship game.

 

So nobody was surprised when the Redskins ended the third quarter with a 21-0 lead on the 49ers.  It didn’t even matter that Mark Moseley had missed three field goals on the sloppy RFK turf.  After a pair of Riggins touchdowns, Joe Theismann’s 70-yard touchdown pass to Charley Brown put the icing on the cake.  A return trip the Super Bowl seemed guaranteed.

 

That’s when perhaps the greatest ever to play quarterback delivered a “don’t pack your bags just yet” message.  Over the course of seven minutes and 29 seconds, Joe Montana threw three touchdown passes.  Two went to Mike Wilson.  The other went to Freddie Solomon – for 76 yards!  Uh oh.

 

Now tied at 21, the Redskins started their drive at their own 14 after a kickoff penalty.  They needed to score, but score slowly.  No way they wanted to put the ball back in Montana’s hands.

 

A catch by Art Monk got the ball out to the 45 of San Francisco.  Two plays later, the Redskins caught a break.  On a pass to Monk that sailed way over his head, 49ers cornerback Eric Wright was called for pass interference.  A second penalty on Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott put the ball in the red zone.

Finally on fourth down at the San Francisco eight-yard line, coach Joe Gibbs nervously sent out Moseley to try a 25-yard field goal.  At this point, Moseley had missed four times! 

 

The kick was good and the Skins led 24-21 with 44 seconds left.  Number 44 (Riggins) would later joke, “I felt like offering him (Moseley) a blindfold and a cigarette.”

 

Montana was intercepted on the final play and the Redskins escaped with the win.  Imagine having to live with blowing a 21-point fourth-quarter lead in the NFC championship game?  Of course, the reward for winning may have been worse.  The Redskins were embarrassed in the Super Bowl two weeks later, falling to the Raiders 38-9. 

 

I guess it’s always better to get to a Super Bowl than not get there, but 31-years later that one still stings.  Just think.  Without the thwarted 49er comeback, the term “rocket screen” wouldn’t haunt us and this year’s Packers would be off the historical hook. 

 

 

 


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McCloughan May Need Beathard-Like 1981 Home Run
by Andy Pollin
Jan 13, 2015 -- 2:37pm
ESPN 980

When Bobby Beathard was hired as general manager of the Redskins February 24, 1978, he became the first to hold that title in the 46-year history of the franchise.  Previously the head coach generally had GM duties as well.  Though Bill Parcells didn’t get that opportunity in New England, the thinking was that the one who did the cooking should be able to buy the groceries.  But the thinking from then owner Edward Bennett Williams  in 1978 was, the last cook (head coach and general manager George Allen) had become too powerful.  When he fired Allen at the end of the 1977 season, Williams determined that he needed division of power.  He hired Jack Pardee as coach and chose the 40-year-old Beathard as GM.

 

Beathard’s name was tossed around quite a bit last week with the hiring of Scot McCloughan.  Beathard is the Redskins gold standard for the GM job.  Charley Casserly, who replaced Beathard in 1989, and is believe it or not, the only other general manager in Redskins history (that’s right – only three) and was on the job when the Redskins won their third Super Bowl after the 1992 season, but Beathard laid the foundation for that team.  The question every Redskins fan wants to know – can McCloughan even approach Beathard’s 11-season record of three NFC Championships and two Super Bowl titles? – Not to mention the third he helped put together.

 

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to look back at what Beathard did in building the Redskins great decade of the 1980’s.  The team he took over had finished 9-5 the year before and hadn’t had a losing season in seven years.  But the future had been mortgaged.  The Redskins not only didn’t have choices in the first six rounds for 1978, picks in the first three rounds for 1979 were also gone.  Allen never had much use for rookies, so he usually traded the picks for veterans.  Plus what was left on the roster was pretty old.  Free agency didn’t exist and the draft was the only way to rebuild.  But Williams indicated he chose Beathard because he’d help rebuild Miami after the Dolphins Super Bowl success of the early 70’s and hoped he could do the same for his draft-bare team.

 

Beathard’s first-ever pick was Tony Green, who didn’t play long, but made the Pro Bowl as a kick returner.  The following year, without a pick in the first three rounds, he brought in Don Warren, Rich Milot and Monte Coleman.  Warren and Coleman won three rings apiece and Milot won two.  Finally with a first-rounder in 1980, Beathard selected Art Monk, who won three rings and made the Hall of Fame.  And then in 1981, Beathard knocked it out of the park.  Here is the ’81 draft, which ranks as one of the best in NFL history:

 

1st round – Mark May, played in three Super Bowls, won two

2nd round – pick traded to Baltimore for Joe Washington, played on two Super Bowl teams, won one

3rd round – Russ Grimm, played in four Super Bowls, won three, Hall of Fame 2010

4th round – Tom Flick

5th round – Dexter Manley, played in three Super Bowls, won two, Redskins all time sack leader

6th round – Larry Kubin, played in two Super Bowls, won one

7th round – traded pick to Rams

8th round – Charlie Brown – played in two Super Bowls, won one

9th round – Darryl Grant – played in three Super Bowls, won two

10th round – two picks, Phil Kessell and Alan Kennedy, neither made the team

11th round – Jerry Hill, didn’t make the team

12th round – Clint Didier, played in three Super Bowls, won two

 

And if that wasn’t enough, Beathard brought in Joe Jacoby as an undrafted free agent.  Jacoby played in four Super Bowls, won three, made the Pro Bowl four times and should be in the Hall of Fame.  He’s been a semifinalist the last three years.  That draft and the addition of Jacoby laid the foundation for the four Super Bowl appearances that would follow in the next decade.  Oh and, a few months before that draft Beathard hired Joe Gibbs as coach.  That didn’t hurt either.

 

In the years that followed, Beathard had his share of misses.  He took Bob Slater in the second round in 1984 and followed that up a year later by taking Tory Nixon in the second round.  In 1986, he took wide receiver bust Walter Murray in the second round.  But in that same draft, he took Mark Rypien in the sixth round.  Six years later Rypien would be named Super Bowl MVP.  And often, when Beathard messed up, he quickly fixed it.  He took Mike Oliphant out of tiny Pugent Sound in the third round of the 1988 draft and traded him a year later for Earnest Byner, who had a pair of thousand yard seasons and helped the Skins win their last Super Bowl.  But clearly he was able to dine off that ’81 draft for many years.

 

It seemed that Beathard had everything he wanted in Washington and could have stayed forever.  But at the age of 52, he decided to exit after the 1989 draft.  He denied reports that he felt like he was losing a power struggle to coach Joe Gibbs, but did return to the NFL with the Chargers a few years later.  Thanks to Ryan Leaf and a few other unfortunate moves, that didn’t work out.

 

Now Scot McCloughan gets to make the calls Beathard once made.  He’s the first general manager concentrating solely on football players in the 16-year ownership of Daniel Snyder.  Will he last a decade like Beathard and Casserly?  It may take a home draft in the next few years like 1981 to make that happen.

 

 


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The Birth of "Booyah"
by Andy Pollin
Jan 06, 2015 -- 3:33pm
ESPN 980

Stuart Scott never lived or worked in Washington, D.C., yet his death rated a front -page tribute in the Washington Post.  Pretty incredible for someone who was best known for dishing street slang on ESPN. 

 

The Post referred to Scott as a “trailblazing anchor.”  He was that.  When he joined the network in 1993, Scott quickly became known for sayings like, “cool as the other side of the pillow” and “just call him butter because he’s on a roll” and his best known – “booyah”.  Nobody on TV had sounded like that before.  He had a style that the traditional media wasn’t so sure about.  To be honest, I was never a big fan of his shtick.  But obviously I was in the minority, because he quickly became one of ESPN’s biggest stars and paved the way for many others with unique styles.

 

And while I completely understand the importance of Scott’s influence, I think it should be pointed out that he didn’t reinvent the wheel.  What Stuart Scott was able to do, was thanks in large part to what others had done before him to pave HIS way.

 

  Scott was able to successfully bring the way he interacted with his friends off the air to the television screen.  And it worked incredibly well two ways.  One – those who liked his style, loved him and two- the athletes he covered made a connection because he was unlike anybody else who walked into their locker rooms.  Former colleague Bonnie Bernstein said he spoke the language of the black players.  Redskins safety Ryan Clark wrote piece at SI.com where talked about Scott being his idol and that he was scared to talk to him during their first meeting – after Clark was already an established player and Super Bowl champion with Pittsburgh.

 

Not to take anything away from the life of Stuart Scott, which includes a brave seven-year battle with cancer that has been inspirational to many, the wheels for his arrival on the scene were set in motion many years before.

 

In fact, the year he was born, 1965, WTOP TV and radio (they were actually both owned by the Washington Post at the time) hired a young Washington native with the catchy name of Warner Wolf.  In 1965, sports news was read on TV in the same manner as car wrecks, fires and shootings.  Somebody, often a local sportswriter, read the scores and told about trades and firings and moved on.  The new guy didn’t roll like that.  Somewhere early on, Warner came to the conclusion that sports were fun and you should sound like you’re having fun talking about them.  If things were going well, you cheered.  If things weren’t working out, you booed.  He figured if you can be a sports fan, why can’t you act like a sports fan on television?

 

Phrases like, “cmon, gimme a break” and “the boo of the week” became as popular locally as Scott’s “booyah” later became nationally.  Warner was far and away the most popular sportscaster in town.  By the mid-70’s he’d been scooped up by ABC to do the Olympics, Monday Night Baseball and the then-popular Wide World of Sports Show.

 

Funny thing, though, about being a trailblazer.  Sometimes one is a bit too far ahead of his time.  And 40 years ago, Warner was.  While hosting a college football scoreboard show for ABC, Warner gave Alabama Coach Bear Bryant, the “boo of the week” for kicking a fourth quarter field goal in a 45-0 win over TCU.  In the days before emails, texts and Twitter, ABC was flooded with thousands of letters demanding that this punk being taken off the air for daring to criticize the great Coach Bryant.  That seemed to set in motion the removal of Warner from network television.  The network executives didn’t feel comfortable knowing there was a segment of their audience who hated the guy they had on the air.  Smarter people would have recognized that the perceived hate was really passion, and built on it.   Instead they bailed.

 

Warner did return to local television with great success in New York.  A return to channel 9 in the 90’s to replace the late Glenn Brenner didn’t work out, but he had another run back in New York on the CBS affiliate and continues to do radio work at the age of 77.

 

In the meantime, along came Brenner with his own style.  Instinctively funny, he lost a job in Philadelphia for saying what everybody else was thinking.  The set that he and the other anchors appeared on, looked like courtroom.  At one point, Brenner stood up and said, “ Your honor I object to this newscast.”  They laughed.  The news director didn’t and Brenner wound up in Washington getting the last laugh.  Replacing Warner a year after he left for ABC, Brenner became as popular as anyone in the history of D.C. television.

 

Brenner, George Michael, Dan Patrick, Keith Olberman and many others owe a great deal of their success to the game changing work of Warner Wolf.

 

Stuart Scott was different than anyone who had ever appeared on television before, but being different on television was a trail blazed long before he got there.


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The Top Five Local Sports Stories of 2014
by Andy Pollin
Dec 21, 2014 -- 11:59am
ESPN 980

With all four major professional sports and numerous colleges in the area, it’s tough to boil down the list of stories into a top five – but here’s the list I’ve come up with.  It leaves plenty of room for debates, additions and maybe a few subtractions.

 

5.  The Little Boys Go Dancing While the Big Boys Stay Home Alone

 

With five Final Four appearances between them and a National Championship each, Georgetown and Maryland have been the dominant local college basketball programs for the last 50 years.  One or both are usually in the NCAA Tournament in March, but in 2014, both were left out of the field of 68.  Georgetown finished 18-15, 8-10 in the re-configured Big East.  They had a strong backcourt with D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Markel Starks averaging more than 17 points a game.   But starting center Joshua Smith was an early-season academic casualty and the Hoyas never really recovered.  They settled for a second round exit from the NIT with a loss at Florida State.

 

Maryland, playing it’s final season in the ACC, finished 8th in the conference at 9-9 and were 17-15 overall.  That wasn’t even enough to get into the NIT.  After the season, the Terps had five players with eligibility leave, including second leading scorer Seth Allen and leading rebounder Charles Mitchell.  Nick Faust, Shaquille Clear and Roddy Peters, thought to be key parts of Coach Mark Turgeon’s rebuilding plan, also left. 

 

Meantime, two of the local mid majors danced.  George Washington finished 24-9, 11-5 in the Atlantic 10, good enough for an at large bid.  The Colonials benefitted greatly from Indiana transfer Maurice Creek, who led them in scoring and hit the winning shot in an upset of Maryland early in the season.  They played well, but lost to Memphis 71-66 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.  American University finished second in the Patriot League to Boston University, but won at BU in the championship game 55-36.  The Eagles were thrown to the wolves in the NCAA’s, falling to Final Four bound Wisconsin 75-35.

 

4.  Abra Cadabra, The Wizards Magically Go From Bad to Good

 

After a 1-7 start, the cry was, “here they go again.”  Even Tony Kornheiser’s annual prediction of a 9-20 start seemed like it would be a tough stretch to get to.  But led by John Wall, the Wizards woke up and started to click.  They finished 44-38, good for second place in the Southeast Division.  And then for only the second time in 25 years, they won a first round playoff series, knocking out the Chicago Bulls in five games.  The season finally ended with a second round loss to the more experienced Indiana Pacers, but not before the Wiz made it interesting, winning two of the six games.  Wall emerged as an All Star, averaging 19.3 points and 8.8 assists a game.  Trevor Ariza and Marcin Gortat both had big years, and while Nene played only 53 games, he came up huge in the playoffs.  And late season pickups Drew Gooden and Andre Miller gave them unexpected help off the bench.  After the win or else year, Coach Randy Wittman was rewarded with a new contract.

 

3.  Caps Overhaul: Ted’s Patience Finally Wears Out

 

After sticking with the general manager he inherited when he bought the team through disappointing playoff exits year after year, Capitals owner Ted Leonsis finally fired George McPhee after 17 years.  Leonsis said in late April after finishing one spot out of the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, “We were left with the overall impression that the team wasn’t trending towards being able to compete for the Stanley Cup.”

 

Out the door with McPhee went Coach Adam Oates, who had a year left on his three-year contract.  Their replacements both had Caps ties.  Brian MacLellan, after seven years as assistant general manager under McPhee, moved into the GM job.  And Barry Trotz, recently fired after 15 years as head coach in Nashville became the new head coach.  Trotz had served as minor league coach in the Caps system before going to Nashville.

 

2.  Matt Williams Learns on the Job the Hard Way

 

When 70 plus Davey Johnson retired as manager of the Nationals at the end of the 2013 season, General Manager Mike Rizzo went young, giving Matt Williams his first managerial job.  Williams raised some eyebrows when he shifted his lineup from day to day in the early part of the season.  He also, on the day the Nats handed out programs with Bryce Harper’s picture and the caption, “Nothing but hustle” on them, benched Harper for not running out a ground ball.  But he earned his Manager of the Year award by guiding the Nats to the best record in the National League with 96 wins.  The regular season ended with a blaze of glory as Jordan Zimmerman threw the first no hitter in Nats history on the final day of the season.  It seemed that everything Williams touched in September turned to gold.  But his golden touch disappeared in October.  The Nats went down in five games to the eventual World Series Champion Giants.  Williams will forever be second-guessed for yanking Zimmerman from game two with only one out to go.  The Nats were up 1-0, with Zimmerman having thrown 17 and two thirds innings of shutout ball in five days.  Rather than trust his stud, Williams went with his “plan” and called on closer Drew Storen.  The tying run scored and the game went on – for another NINE innings.  Brandon Belt homered off Tanner Roark, who by then was pitching after midnight on the day he turned 28.  The Giants won 2-1 in five hours and 51 minutes, the longest postseason game in major league history.  Harper hit three homers in the series, but Adam LaRoche, Jayson Werth, Denard Span, Wilson Ramos and Ian Desmond were a combined nine for 89 with 24 strikeouts and a .101 batting average.  The Nats scored only nine runs in the 45 innings of the series.

 

  1. Redskins:  From Hopeful to Hopeless to a Ray of Hope

 

Like when the television show, “Bewitched” changed Dicks (Dick Sargent replaced Dick York as Elizabeth’s Montgomery’s husband Darrin Stephens in 1969.  C’mon get your mind out of the gutter) the script didn’t seem to change much when Jay Gruden replaced Mike Shanahan as head coach of the Redskins in January.  After a brief honeymoon with quarterback Robert Griffin III, it wasn’t long before it became clear the coach and QB were not seeing eye to eye.  After an ugly 27-7 home loss to woeful Tampa Bay on November 16th, Griffin said, “Great quarterbacks, the Peytons, the Aaron Rodgers, those guys don’t play well if their guys don’t play well.”

 

A day later Gruden responded by saying Griffin needs to worry about himself and then unloaded with, “Robert has some fundamental flaws…he’s not even close to being good enough to what we expect from the quarterback position.”

 

The game was closer, but Griffin’s performance wasn’t much better the following week in a 17-13 loss at San Francisco.  Gruden had seen enough and went back to Colt McCoy, who had provided the season’s highlight by winning at Dallas on the last Monday night in October.  McCoy put up 27 points and Indianapolis, but the defense was dreadful in the 49-27 loss. 

 

Even a 24-0 loss at home to St. Louis, which included a serious neck injury to McCoy wasn’t enough to put RGIII back on the field.  Bad neck and all, McCoy was still named the starter for the December 14th home game against the Giants.  It seemed to be a clear sign that Gruden had absolutely no desire to see Griffin back on the field.  But he had no choice when McCoy’s neck held up for only one series.  Griffin wasn’t great, but better than he had been in his last go-round before being benched.  The Redskins dropped to 3-11 with the 24-13 loss.

 

However, the performance was enough to have some of us rethink thoughts that there is no way for Gruden and Griffin to work together in 2015.  Now with a pre-Christmas 27-24 shocking win over Philadelphia, it looks like that’s a done deal.  Gruden even used words like “great” and “excellent” to describe RGIII’s 16 of 23 for 220 yard performance.

 

Perhaps 2014 is ending just like it started – full of hope.


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Can a Forced Marriage Between Gruden and Griffin Work?
by Andy Pollin
Dec 16, 2014 -- 2:28pm

ESPN 980They are recalled as one of Hollywood’s most famous couples.  The marriage of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton produced great intrigue and great art.  They met on the set of “Cleopatra” and went on to co-star in memorable movies, including “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”.  But the marriage lasted only 10 years, 1964 to 74.  However, they were divorced for only about a year before they decided to give it another go-round. And that lasted less than a year.  If it didn’t work the first time, you wonder why they would give it another shot.

 

That would be my question as we head into what looks like a forced remarriage between Redskins coach Jay Gruden and quarterback Robert Griffin III.  In taking the job as head coach less than a year ago, Gruden essentially agreed to a football marriage with Griffin.  After the flameout last year with the Shanahans, Gruden seemed to be the perfect mate for the newly divorced RGIII.  Gruden has an easygoing way about him and a good reputation for working with quarterbacks.  He’d turned Andy Dalton into a three-time playoff performer.  Why wouldn’t this work?

 

Well it hasn’t.  If you look at the great winners of the past, you see a great coach-quarterback marriage.  From Vince Lombardi and Bart Starr with the Packers in the 60’s, to Bill Walsh and Joe Montana in the 80’s to Bill Belichick and Tom Brady in the 21st century – you’re talking about 11 championships from just that trio of pairings alone.  All six of those guys are either in the Hall of Fame, or going there.  And it doesn’t always take Hall of Famers to make it work.  Joe Gibbs won his three Super Bowls with Joe Theismann, Doug Williams and Mark Rypien.  None of those quarterbacks will get a sniff of Canton. 

 

With all of those coach-quarterback marriages, there may have been some bumps in the road, but what’s gone on between Gruden and Griffin borders on the war of the Roses.  Gruden has openly ripped the former Heisman winner, even questioning whether he’s grasped the basics of playing the quarterback position.  Griffin has been doing his best to hold his tongue, but this has been a devastating season for him.  It’s been bad off the field and worse off it.  In just five starts two relief appearances he’s been sacked 28 times.  In the Super Bowl season of 1991, Rypien was sacked a total of seven times in 16 games.  Griffin was sacked seven times last Sunday.  When Mike Shanahan deactivated Griffin for the last three games of the season last year, it was painted as a precaution against injury so that Griffin would be healthy for the offseason.  This season Gruden outright benched him in what amounted to a separation in this coach-quarterback marriage.  Divorce is usually the next step.

 

But the Redskins have too much invested in each of them for that to happen.  Gruden was smart enough to get himself a five-year contract and the three first round draft picks the Skins dealt to St. Louis for the rights to RGIII makes him too valuable to give up on.

 

So we move into the next phase.  With Colt McCoy reinjuring his neck last Sunday against the Giants, Griffin returns as the starter for Saturday’s home game against Philadelphia, with Gruden saying, “So moving forward, this is Robert’s team right now.  Hopefully we will have a good game plan for him to give him a chance to succeed and to win.  And then from there, we’ll just take it one game at a time and make our judgements and our conclusions after that.”

 

For now Gruden and Griffin are back together and the organization is rooting for a long-term union.  Owner Dan Snyder recently told Sonny Jurgensen that Griffin is only 24 years old and deserves another chance to win the job.  So we’ll sit back and watch.  Hopefully this reconciliation lasts longer than Liz and Dick’s.

 

 


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