Redskins have their new digs, but they'll be digging in for a bit Modern facility replaces original

August 30, 1992|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- It's the NFL's version of keeping up with the Joneses -- or the 49ers.

The Redskins moved into a new facility in Ashburn, Va., last week that has all the up-to-date bells and whistles that pro football teams covet, including three grass fields and one artificial turf field.

It's so new the Redskins haven't even officially opened it yet. They've asked TV cameramen not to film it yet. John Kent Cooke, the son of owner Jack Kent Cooke, said he doesn't want to comment on the facility until they opened all the boxes and are completely moved in.

Meanwhile, the Redskins like what they've seen so far.

"It's a beautiful facility," coach Joe Gibbs said. "I think the coaches are going to be in better shape. You're 30 yards away from some stuff. You used to be able to stand up and yell. Now people don't even hear you. It's really something to be proud of. It's not overdone, but it's got the size and all the right stuff into it. A lot of thought went into it."

The new Redskins Park replaces the one that was built 20 years ago under the direction of former coach George Allen on the other side of Dulles International Airport in Herndon, Va. "The thing was kind of coming down around our ears," Gibbs said of the old place.

The Redskins were the first team to build a separate facility. Until they did it, most teams trained at their stadiums. Because it was the first facility, it became outdated compared with the newer ones around the league, particularly by the lavish one built by the 49ers.

Although the original facility was Allen's idea, Gibbs said the new one was proposed by Cooke.

Gibbs said the Redskins will be more efficient in the new facility.

"First of all, it was a definite negative, practicing on one grass field. That hurts you to some extent. That's just solid dirt after a little while. So I think the fields definitely add something," he said.

The off-the-field training procedures will be much improved, too.

"I think we can get more people in the weight room and do a much better job there," Gibbs said. "I think another big thing which would probably go unnoticed by a lot of people is that we couldn't even have a total team meeting where everybody could really see somebody talking in the other complex. Now we have the auditorium where everybody can see who's talking and talk on an overhead. Before [guys were] looking around somebody's head [to see] who's up there. We couldn't even get the whole group in there. The [assistant] coaches had to stand in the back, and we had a lot of guys sitting on floors, really.

"I say things like that are a big plus as far as teaching. We should be able to do a better job of teaching."

Still, moving has seemed strange to the Redskins. "We're warming up to it," cornerback Darrell Green said. "It's like somebody else's new facility. We've got to bring in our flavor. It's like moving into a new house. It's not cozy yet."

If anything, the old facility was cozy. And cramped. "It's something you got used to," Gibbs said. "It was kind of home. I got used to the rats running around at night and everything. I'll kind of miss some of those guys over here. Kind of an interesting little deal, [those] little critters over there. They'd keep you on your toes. We called in a guy [exterminator]. These things were ** resilient. They ate that poison. They thrived on it."

There's one other reason why Gibbs has fond memories of the old place. The team went to four Super Bowls and won three of them under him while they practiced at the old facility. There's no guarantee he'll be as successful in the new place.

"That went through my mind. You ask a coach and he's a little superstitious," Gibbs said.

In the end, the facility will be judged a success only if the Redskins keep winning. Gibbs knows the disruption of the move can't be used as an excuse if the team doesn't do well.

"I doubt anybody will buy that at the end of the year if we don't do very well, 'hey, we had a new facility. What do you expect? You've got to give us about three years.' I'd like to put that into my contract. I don't think that'll work," Gibbs said.

After all, the Phoenix Cardinals and the Indianapolis Colts built new facilities after moving. Those facilities haven't helped them win.

The Redskins hope they'll be more successful in their new

facility.

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