Advancing years are taking toll on Skins, Giants

November 25, 1992|By Gil Lebreton | Gil Lebreton,Fort Worth Star-Telegram

On one of those shameless, schlocky TV-tabloid shows this week, they interviewed a real estate agent from Beverly Hills.

Her name, as I recall, was Bobbi, and she was 70 years old if she was a day.

Yet she drove a convertible. Her wardrobe looked like something out of Barbie and Skipper's closet. Her hair was blindingly blond. Her cheeks were stretched back like a pup tent. She appeared to have no chin.

Lady, I thought, you're old. Why are you still trying to fool people?

At the risk of being tacky, allow me to note that I had the same feeling over the past few days, watching the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins.

Man, you guys are old. What happened?

The Giants clearly were arresting Sunday in their 47-34 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Which is another way of saying that had they panted any harder while chasing the Eagles up and down the field, they would have all lapsed into cardiac arrest.

I saw a 31-year-old, once-around-the-block quarterback, Jeff Hostetler, subbing for a 37-year-old lots-around-the-block quarterback, Phil Simms, get knocked into Geritol Heaven.

I saw the once-bully Giants defense -- veteran names like Leonard Marshall, age 31, Pepper Johnson, 28, Perry Williams, 31, Steve DeOssie, 30, and Mark Collins, 28, -- give up four touchdowns and lose by 13 points to a quarterback having another routinely woeful day.

And then Monday night against New Orleans, there were the defending champion Redskins.

Defending champs? Nurse Ratchit, Nurse Ratchit, come quick.

The theme of the Saints' 20-3 victory had been preordained, it seems. Pre-game analyses centered on the wounded and battle-weary Washington, and how the New Orleans defense would show little mercy.

Bingo. But what was unforeseen was watching the normally glue-pot Saints offense take liberties with the Redskins pass defense. The yardage (142) didn't look like much, but it didn't include 68 yards in pass interference penalties. I've never seen a Redskins defense appear so staggered by an offense that clearly was only interested in getting the game over.

Some, granted, are hurt, but the Redskins still have Wilber Marshall, age 30, Monte Coleman, 35, Don Warren, 36, Joe Jacoby, 33, Charles Mann, 31, and Darrell Green, 32.

Against one of the NFL's most demanding defenses, the Redskins were either handing the ball to 30-year-old Earnest Byner or watching 30-year-old Mark Rypien launch passes high and wide.

Can a team get that old that quickly?

Cowboys fans know the answer to that.

When he was coach, Tom Landry often was ripped by a departing veteran for his cold-hearted dismissal. Landry would shrug and explain that this was the way that a winning team sustains itself. Youth must always be served.

And it worked, until injuries and drafting mistakes made the Cowboys' talent well run dry.

Watching the Giants and Redskins last weekend, I felt like I was watching some of those final Landry teams, trying to tread water while the rest of the pool swam by.

The last great Clint Murchison-era Cowboys team probably peaked on that Sunday in San Francisco, when Dwight Clark's catch denied them their Super Bowl destiny. Afterward came a long slide of aging and denying.

The problem in Washington and New York is that they're trying to recapture old glories with old plays run by ever-older players. Funny, too, how winning two Super Bowls can make even a 28-year-old seem older, less hungry.

Man, Giants and Redskins. What happened?

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