Ex-Bear Marshall enjoys tamer Redskins style


January 22, 1992|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN GRAPHICSSun Staff Correspondent

MINNEAPOLIS -- Remember the Super Bowl Shuffle? Remember when Jim McMahon mooned a helicopter? Remember the wild and crazy guys who were the 1985 Chicago Bears?

Wilber Marshall remembers them all.

"We had a lot of characters on that team," he said. "The guys did all kinds of things, taco commercials. You name it. It was a fun group."

Marshall won a Super Bowl ring with that team, but left two years later in the spring of 1988 when he signed a five-year, $6 million deal with the Washington Redskins.

They were then the defending Super Bowl champions, and Marshall assumed they would make it back fairly quickly.

"With the talent we have, I thought we'd be up there," he said.

Instead, it took the Redskins four years to make it back, and it's six seasons since Marshall made it with the 1985 Bears.

That's why he's one of the veterans telling the young players that they can't take the Super Bowl for granted.

"You've got to seize the moment," Marshall said. "Who knows the next time I'm going to be back? I try to instill that in the young guys. Hey, this might be the last one."

Marshall also talked about how difficult the transition was for him when he went from Chicago to Washington.

It took him time getting accustomed to the low-key style of coach Joe Gibbs after the fiery style of Mike Ditka in Chicago.

"I liked Ditka," Marshall said. "I liked the way he was aggressive. He wanted his players to play that way. He put that little pressure on you. It was hard for me at first [to get used to Gibbs]. You see Ditka get ticked off and [Gibbs says after a loss], 'Hey, we've got to come together next week and we've got to win.' I didn't quite understand it. But after a while, you can tell his tone of voice and you can just see his face and you know he wants it."

Marshall also had to get used to being the high-priced newcomer on a team that had just won the Super Bowl. Some players who were making a fourth of what he was making resented his contract.

"It was tough being the new kid on the block," he said. "It took me a little time to get used to everybody. The guys didn't know how to react to this guy coming in. At first, I used to just hang out by myself, but then things started to click."

Marshall now feels very comfortable with Washington.

"We do things together and we're more tight like it was in Chicago," he said. "I think that's what it takes to win."

Since he wasn't a Super Bowl Shuffle kind of guy, he doesn't miss the old atmosphere in Chica- go.

"It was fun watching them," Marshall said. "I was comfortable, but I'm a shy person off the field. That's why I don't do too many interviews."

In Washington, the atmosphere is in a stark contrast to the way it was in Chicago.

"Here, everybody is low-key and they just want to get the job done," he said.

He says, though, that the Redskins are more colorful than they appear to be in public.

"You've got a lot of personalities, but they hold it in," Marshall said. "When we're together, if you're in the locker room, all these characters come out and then they come out here [for interviews] and they just don't do it. I guess they don't want to embarrass themselves."

This year, Marshall has been the kind of dominating player he was in Chicago. After being pulled frequently on third-down plays in his first three seasons when he was adjusting to the

system, he's been a full-time player.

But he still didn't make the Pro Bowl the way he did in his last two years in Chicago, in 1986-87.

Even though he had 19 quarterback hurries and intercepted five passes, he only had 5.5 sacks, and the Pro Bowl has become a sack race for outside linebackers.

"It was disappointing at first, but I let it go because I believe in myself and I believe in what I did," he said.

He likes to say he's a complete linebacker who can cover a back out of the backfield as well as rush the passer. He likes to joke with Pro Bowl teammate Darrell Green that they had the same number of interceptions -- five.

"That's the thing I love, interceptions," he said. "It means you have to cover someone, guys who can run 4.3, 4.4. It's a challenge."

He figures he could rush the passer and get more sacks if the Redskins wanted him to do that, but he questions whether the other linebackers "can go back and do what I do."

Marshall has 18 interceptions and wants to get 30 before he retires.

His ability to play so many roles is one reason the Redskins were so good against the run-and-shoot teams, and he'll play a key role in trying to stop Buffalo's no-huddle offense.

"We'll do the same things we've been doing all these weeks," he said. "I don't think we should change anything."

That means he can rush Jim Kelly, tackle Thurman Thomas or even cover him coming out of the backfield.

He hopes it leads to another Super Bowl ring.

"I want to be part of the Redskins Super Bowl champions," he said. "I want that ring. I want to be able to walk around Washington with that ring."

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