Peers sack Marshall in Pro Bowl ballot Redskin gets respect but not the votes

August 11, 1992|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

CARLISLE, Pa. -- When Wilber Marshall steps onto a football field, he can hear the respect he gets from the other team.

"The first thing the quarterback [says] is, 'There he is, 58. He's over there. Pick him up.' When you've got somebody hollering that, that's respect for me. That's all I need," Marshall said.

That's all he may need, but there's still one more thing the Washington Redskins linebacker would like -- a Pro Bowl berth.

He made back-to-back Pro Bowls with the Chicago Bears before he signed a five-year, $6 million deal as a free agent to join the Redskins in 1988.

In the four years he has played with the Redskins, he hasn't been back to Honolulu.

In his first three years with the team, there was an obvious explanation. He often was pulled on passing downs in the Redskins' mix-and-match defense.

Last year, though, he was on the field virtually every down. He was Defensive Player of the Month for October and finished with 134 tackles, 19 quarterback hurries and five interceptions on a Super Bowl championship team.

Yet he didn't make the Pro Bowl, mainly because he had 5 1/2 sacks, while Pat Swilling of the New Orleans Saints led the league with 17 sacks.

The other two linebackers to make it, Charles Haley of the San Francisco 49ers and Seth Joyner of the Philadelphia Eagles, had seven and 6 1/2 sacks, respectively.

Joyner is more of the same type of all-around player that Marshall is, but it's frustrating for Marshall to be overshadowed by pass-rushing specialists.

As Larry Peccatiello, Redskins assistant coach in charge of the linebackers, said: "I feel bad for him. I thought he had a tremendous year. Most of the guys making the Pro Bowl today are just glorified pass rushers. Maybe they should designate some guys as pass rushers and others as linebackers."

Marshall is a true linebacker. He can rush the passer, make tackles and drop back into coverage.

"For me to drop back and nail the receiver as he comes across, I feel good when I do that and everybody says, 'Oh, man, look at the way he hit,' " Marshall said.

There are times when Marshall may be a bit too enthusiastic about nailing people. One theory is that he gets hurt in the Pro Bowl balloting because some of his peers on other teams don't like his style. Not that he's going to change -- especially if a player takes a shot at him.

"I tell them, 'All right, if you want to play the game that way, I'm going to play that way. I can nail you any time I want to,' and they sit there and say, 'Aw, don't play that way.' I say, 'Well, you started it. You're going to have to play by your rules,' " he said.

Marshall does say the Pro Bowl snub bothers him.

"Any person would want to make the Pro Bowl. Anybody who says he doesn't, he's crazy," Marshall said.

Making his case, he said: "Swilling had 17 sacks, but what else did he do? He only had like 60 tackles. I had 11 or 12 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, and that's like a sack. I'd like to be a Swilling or an LT [Lawrence Taylor] and just rush off the corner. If they put me at the end and say, 'Don't worry about making any tackles and get around the corner.' If I can just make one sack a game, you're All-Pro. That's want people want. They liked the excitement of the sack."

But it's obvious Marshall has done his own research. When he said Swilling had "like 60 tackles," he was right on the money. Swilling had 50 solos and 10 assists, compared with Marshall's 84 solos and 51 assists.

Marshall, though, said he is happy with his situation. He doesn't even mind the switch from the right to the left side he made last year. He figures he'll be happier next year, because his contract expires and he thinks free agency is coming. If the Redskins want to re-sign him this year, he'll be happy. If they don't, he figures he'll have more leverage next year.

"I can't do nothing but get happier," he said. "Your salary isn't supposed to go down."

For Marshall, a fat paycheck makes up for the Pro Bowl snub.

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