For Eagles, Redskins can wait Controversy comes first . . . as usual

December 15, 1992|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

ASHBURN, Va. -- The Washington Redskins and the Philadelphia Eagles are both coming off exciting 20-17 victories and have the same record: 9-5.

But that's where the similarities between the two traditional rivals end.

When the teams meet Sunday in Philadelphia with an NFC wild-card berth on the line, the teams come in with their usual contrasting styles and personalities.

"When teams line up against their defense, there's a lot of people quaking in their boots. Same thing when you play Randall [Cunningham]," Washington coach Joe Gibbs said yesterday. "You're going to be in for a long day. And you're going up to Philadelphia to play them. This is big time."

That's the typical Redskins approach. Praise the opposition. Keep a low profile. Never say anything controversial.

Up in Philadelphia, they haven't really started focusing on the Redskins. They're still embroiled in their latest controversy.

The Eagles are the exact opposite of the Redskins. They're a brash, trash-talking team that virtually has a patent on controversies.

The latest one started Sunday when the New York Times published a story quoting linebacker Seth Joyner criticizing the team's owner, coach and quarterback. He sort of got the trifecta.

Joyner was quoted as saying owner Norman Braman cares only "about making money," not winning.

He said that coach Rich Kotite is the "puppet" the owner wanted after Buddy Ryan was fired two years ago.

He also blamed Cunningham for getting Ryan fired and said, "I told Randall he would pay for what he did. I don't know if him missing all of last year with a knee injury was it, but God works in mysterious ways."

Joyner stopped giving interviews in Philadelphia after criticizing Kotite for his play-calling in a Nov. 15 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

"I should have learned my lesson and not said anything because it's amazing how you guys take little things and piece it together the way you want. I'm not doing any interviews, man," Joyner said after the Eagles beat the Seattle Seahawks, 20-17, in overtime.

That's why the focus at the Eagles camp yesterday was not the Redskins, but the furor over Joyner's remarks. Kotite said he would discipline Joyner, but added, "It's going to be of a private nature and not at a forum like this."

When Kotite was asked whether this latest flap would hurt the team's playoff drive, he said, "I certainly hope not. Seth as a player on the field is an outstanding player. He does a great job. . . . But some of this is negated off the field."

Kotite added, "I think we've got a mature team very focused getting ready for Washington. And they're not going to let anything or anyone distract them. And also they're not going to let anyone fragment this team."

2l Kotite said his feelings weren't hurt by being called a "puppet."

"I've been here almost two years as a coach and I'm getting to where I don't worry about my feelings and don't get concerned with it," he said.

Gibbs scoffed at any suggestion that the latest controversy engulfing the Eagles would help the Redskins.

"All I know is that they're winning games," Gibbs said of the Eagles. "I would say they're in a pretty good frame of mind right now, just winning, rolling right along. They're right where we are. I know what to expect from the Eagles. Dallas went to see the Eagles and got cremated. They're definitely capable of nailing you and normally do when you play at their place," he said.

Gibbs never lets the facts stand in the way when he's praising the opposition. The Redskins have won seven of the last 10 against the Eagles and are 3-2 in their last five games in Philadelphia, including a 1990 playoff victory that cost Ryan his job.

When they lost last year in Philadelphia, 24-22, they had clinched a playoff spot and rested some starters in the second half.

Things could get better for the Redskins, too. Reggie White, the Eagles' premier defensive end, wants out of town and may get free agency this year.

Although the Redskins are supposed to be one of the teams on his list, Gibbs laughed at the suggestion he'd be in a Redskins uniform next year.

"I don't think that's reality. It'd be a good dream, that's what that would be," he said.

NOTES: Darrell Green was limping with a bruised heel yesterday, but hopes to play Sunday. . . . Richie Petitbon, the assistant coach who runs the defense, said that "it wasn't very smart" for Wilber Marshall to get a penalty body-slamming Dallas tight end Jay Novacek after a play. In the process, he came close to hurting Redskins safety Brad Edwards when he threw Novacek into his knee. "Maybe he'll learn from it," Petitbon said.

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