Williams takes potshots at Lions' Schmidt

September 13, 1990|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Correspondent

HERNDON, VA — HERNDON, Va. -- Chuck Schmidt's ears may have been ringing yesterday.

Schmidt, the Detroit Lions general manager, was a target of several barbs from the newest member of the Washington Redskins, defensive lineman Eric Williams.

Williams, traded Tuesday by the Lions to the Washington Redskins for running back James Wilder and a fourth-round pick, spent his first day in Washington complaining about Schmidt.

He said Schmidt reneged on a promise to him that he wouldn't be traded and was more bean counter than general manager.

Williams also said Jerry Vainisi, who since has left the Lions for the new World League of American Football, should have been named general manager instead of Schmidt, a certified public accountant, when Russ Thomas retired in 1989.

Williams said he didn't like the way Schmidt handles contract talks.

"It started with Russ Thomas as the general manager, and he trained Chuck Schmidt and now all we have is a skinny Russ Thomas up there," Williams said.

"I don't mean to be that bad on the man. I like Chuck as a person, but I think that his attitude in terms of the way he runs a football team [is that] he's an accountant. He's a bean counter, and when a bean counter is trying to work [in] football, it doesn't mix. You need a man who knows football to be up there."

Williams, who was unhappy when the Lions told him he was overpaid and gave him only a small raise to about $415,000 after he held out all of training camp, was just warming up.

"Jerry Vainisi should have been the man running everything," he said. "Ask anybody that played for the Bears what they think of Jerry Vainisi. I think they'll come up with the same answer. I don't want to sound like I have sour grapes in my mouth. I accept the trade, and I know this is the business."

Vainisi worked for the Bears when they won the Super Bowl in 1985. He was fired by Chicago, then hired by the Lions.

Williams said he was unhappy about the timing of the trade, although he wanted to join the Redskins. He asked for a trade to Washington weeks ago when he was holding out, but he was turned down.

"They told me, 'Eric, there's no way you're going to be traded.' I was ready to rock and roll for the Lions and they say, 'Hey, you're gone,'" he said. "It wasn't the way a class organization should have done it. I wish they would have done it a while ago."

Schmidt declined to respond to Williams' shots, except to deny he was promised he wouldn't be traded when he ended his holdout last week.

"All I want to say is how can this guy be upset over a trade he wanted a week ago," Schmidt said.

Schmidt brushed off Williams' bean-counter comments. "That's fine," he said.

When Schmidt got the job on Dec. 27, 1989, he jokingly referred to himself as a bean counter.

Williams said he fits in well in Washington.

"It's grass [at RFK Stadium], and they have a winning tradition. Coach [Joe] Gibbs is a fantastic coach, and my head coach, Wayne Fontes, has nothing but great things to say about him," he said.

Schmidt and Williams agree on at least one thing. Schmidt said Williams is more suited to play the Redskins' 4-3 defense than the Lions' 3-4.

"I was born to play defensive tackle in the 4-3," Williams said.

Williams couldn't practice yesterday because Wilder decided to wait until today to report to Detroit for his physical.

NOTES: Jumpy Geathers, a Plan B free agent who missed the entire training camp with a knee injury he suffered in training camp, started practicing yesterday. He's on the physically-unable-to-perform list and won't be eligible to return until the seventh week of the season.

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