Redskins' Clark has say, then makes the plays

January 03, 1993|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

MINNEAPOLIS -- It was a scene usually associated with a team in trouble: Wide receiver Gary Clark and coach Joe Gibbs were jawing at each other on the sidelines at the end of the first half yesterday.

Each man appeared to be visibly upset even though the Washington Redskins were ahead of the Minnesota Vikings, 17-7, at halftime. So what was the problem?

It apparently started when Clark complained that he was open downfield. Gibbs told him he'd have opportunities to make plays in the second half, then both of their emotions flared.

"That's Gary's personality," Gibbs said.

"I'm just a very emotional person," Clark said. "I wanted to make things happen so I'm hooting and hollering. A lot of times I'm yelling and they think I'm yelling at something. I'm not really yelling at anything. I'm just trying to get the team motivated.

"It got Joe fired up. He was like, 'We're going to make some plays in the second half,' and I'm, 'OK.' He was telling me to make plays, and the coach was pumped up, and I was pumped up. We just wanted to make plays. He said, 'Gary, we'll depend on you in the second half to come out and make plays.' "

Clark did just that, catching a 24-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. He finished with six catches for 91 yards as the Redskins won, 24-7.

One was an apparent trap on instant replay, but the officials gave Clark the benefit of the doubt. Even they figure he's going to find a way to make plays.

Clark was still fired up after the game. He often skips out of the locker room without giving interviews and didn't speak at all for several weeks during the season.

But he wanted to say his piece yesterday.

He said he wanted to remind people that the Redskins are still the defending champions.

"Nobody's talking about [the fact that] we have a chance to repeat," he said. "Nobody's talking about the motivation we have to go out and play football. All they talked about was the negative. You've got a team that's injury-riddled, that had problems throughout the whole year, that stuck together. The players didn't bitch and moan about anything. We could have easily been torn apart by a 9-7 season.

"The expectations on the Washington Redskins are so high that people sometimes expect us to do miraculous things and every year go 14-2. The bottom line is getting into the playoffs because it's a clean slate."

Clark then went beyond the subject of repeating as Super Bowl champions. He talked about a "threepeat."

"It'd be nice to try and be a part of history because if you repeat, that gives you a chance to threepeat and that's what we were saying the whole season. You don't get too many chances in this league to repeat, and I don't know if we're going to do it, but we're going to give it our best shot," he said.

Clark gave his teammates a similar speech the night before the game.

Clark reminded the players that his string of three 1,000-yard receiving seasons had been stopped, and that Earnest Byner's streak of 1,000-yard rushing seasons ended at two. They now have to begin again.

"We've got a chance to do something great, but if we don't win, we have to start over," Ron Middleton said Clark told the players.

Clark said: "I give a talk when I feel a talk is needed. Fortunately for me, I think I'm able to motivate people through some words. Sometimes, they're vulgar. Sometimes, they're not."

He talked about the Redskins who played hurt.

"You do whatever you've got to do," Clark said.

"If you've got to take a shot, you take a shot. If the Novocain is going to numb you and you can't feel the pain, that's what you've got to do. I've been taking shots for eight years now. That's part of the game. I'll deal with the after-effects after I finish playing the game. I play the game to win. That's the only way I was taught to play."

He said he's looking forward to playing the 49ers.

"We just may come back from San Francisco smiling like I'm smiling now," Clark said.

1% "You never know. You never know."

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