It's down and dirty time, as Redskins meet Eagles

October 18, 1990|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Correspondent

HERNDON,VA. — HERNDON, Va. -- When charges of cheap shots and dirty play are filling the air, it usually means only one thing: The Philadelphia Eagles are coming to town.

Sure enough, the Eagles will be at RFK Stadium Sunday to play the Washington Redskins and there was much talk yesterday about the Eagles' controversial style of play.

After all, the Redskins have been pointing fingers at the Eagles for years.

This time, the debate got rolling again Monday night -- just in time for the latest Redskins-Eagles game.

It started when safety Andre Waters took two shots at the knees of Rich Gannon, the Minnesota Vikings quarterback.

Gannon said they were cheap shots, and Dan Dierdorf, the former St. Louis Cardinals offensive lineman who is an ABC-TV commentator, chastised Waters on the telecast, saying his play had no place in the game. Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said he'd be reviewing the plays.

An unlikely player, Redskins defensive tackle James "Jumpy" Geathers, entered the fray yesterday.

A former New Orleans Saints lineman who was signed by the Redskins as a Plan B free agent, Geathers charged that Mike Schad, an Eagles offensive lineman, blew out Geathers' knee with a cheap shot last year in a Monday night game.

Geathers said he was going for a fumble when Schad "just dove on the back of my legs and cheap-shotted me."

Geathers hasn't played since, although he said he's recovered and he hopes the Redskins will activate him from the physically unable to perform list for Sunday's game.

"He [Schad] was definitely trying to get me out of the game, because he couldn't handle me," Geathers said.

Schad could not be reached for comment.

When asked about Waters, Geathers said: "A lot of guys do cheap shots. He just goes at it a little harder than other people."

Geathers, though, said the Eagles, particularly, aren't dirtier than other teams and that the league should act as strongly to prevent cheap shots as it does to stop steroid use.

"It should be outlawed, but they [officials] don't call it," he said. "We ought to try to entertain the fans and try to win the game. [Those] guys have no feeling for other people. I'm going to have a bad knee for the rest of my life."

Meanwhile, the debate over Waters' play was continuing. He's no stranger to the Redskins because he's had a couple of skirmishes with former quarterback Doug Williams and knocked out kicker Jess Atkinson in the 1987 season opener.

Waters has spent he past two days defending himself.

"I'm not out there trying to injure anyone or play dirty ball," he said.

Eagles coach Buddy Ryan also jumped to his defense.

"I thought it was a clean deal," Ryan said of Waters' hits on Gannon.

"Andre's had a reputation ever since I've been here of being a dirty ballplayer. He's not. He's a good kid."

Ryan did concede that Waters had "cleaned up his act" in recent years.

Quarterback Randall Cunningham also defended Waters. Sort of.

"Andre's Andre. He's back to his old self. . . . Everybody used to call him 'Dirty' Waters anyway," Cunningham said.

"If you run out of bounds and think you're not going to get hit,

you'd better get out of bounds faster."

When it was pointed out to Cunningham that hitting out of bounds isn't legal, he laughed and said, "They don't call him 'Dirty' Waters for nothing."

Cunningham then brought up Washington safety Alvin Walton.

"I think he [Waters] and Walton are basically the same style players. Neither of them are dirty, dirty players, but they just go out and try to knock you out," he said.

Walton objected to Cunningham's remarks and said Waters is playing the way Ryan coaches him.

"I'm not a dirty player. I don't go after people's knees," he said. "That's his [Waters'] game. It's not clean. He's got to play the way the coach tells him to play."

NOTES: Johnny Thomas, who caused a turnover when the ball hit his leg after a punt in the fourth quarter Sunday, was placed on the injured-reserve list yesterday with a knee injury and was replaced by Sidney Johnson, a former Kansas City Chiefs defensive back. Coach Joe Gibbs said Thomas wasn't being punished for the misplay. Even though Thomas wasn't on the injury report after the game, Gibbs said he is bothered by an old injury. . . . Alvoid Mays got some work in practice at cornerback in place of Martin Mayhew, who has a sore shoulder, but Mayhew is expected to start.

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