Trade news no news to Gannon Benching meant Viking was gone

August 21, 1993|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

Rich Gannon was on a golf course in Minneapolis on Thursday when he found out he had been traded to the Washington Redskins.

"Somebody yelled over the fence that they heard it on the radio," Gannon said yesterday at Redskin Park after joining his new team.

The news, though, wasn't a surprise to Gannon.

He knew not only that the negotiations were in progress with the Redskins, but also that he no longer fit into the Vikings' plans after he was benched late last season and the team signed Jim McMahon on the free-agent market.

"I kind of realized after what happened last year and what happened in the off-season what my fate was going to be," he said.

Gannon, though, refused to say any negative things about the Vikings even though he was benched when the team was 7-3 and was leading the NFC Central division by three games.

He got the hook after completing five of 12 passes for 26 yards with two interceptions in a 17-13 loss to the Cleveland Browns.

Sean Salisbury came in and started all but one game the rest of the way.

"I don't want to get into all that," Gannon said about his demise in Minnesota. "Everybody has their own theory about what happened. I was disappointed with the decision when it was handed down. Any quarterback would have been disappointed. It's part of the game. At the same time, I kept a very positive attitude. I didn't want what transpired to affect the rest of the team. I kept my mouth shut and went about my business."

Viking insiders say that Gannon had a personality clash with Jack Burns, a former Redskins assistant coach who is now the Vikings' offensive coordinator.

Gannon, though, passed on a chance to say he'd been made a scapegoat.

"What's in the past is in the past," he said. "I have no bitter feelings about the organization. They were real good to me over the years and we won a lot of games."

A native of Philadelphia who played his college ball in Delaware, he's excited for the opportunity to play in Washington.

"I'm glad to come back east and to play for the Redskins outside on grass makes it a very attractive place," he said. The Vikings play indoors in the Metrodome.

Gannon said he worked hard in the Vikings training camp even though he figured he wasn't going to spend the year there.

"I went in with a good attitude and tried to have some fun. I wanted to prepare myself to play where ever it was going to be. I did everything I could to get myself ready," he said.

Although the Redskins put center Matt Elliott on the injured reserve list with a knee injury to make room for Gannon, his arrival means that Chris Hakel won't make the team this year.

The Redskins are insisting that Cary Conklin remains the No. 2 quarterback, but if Conklin continues to struggle, Gannon has a chance to move up.

NOTES: Elliott, who injured his knee in a scrimmage, became the first victim of the new injured reserve rule. Even though he says he'll be ready to play in a few weeks, he's out for the season. Players placed on IR are no longer allowed to return in the same season. . . . The Redskins also cut RB Chuckie Dukes. They must cut 18 more players to get the roster down to 60 next Tuesday. Gannon's arrival means Hakel will depart. . . . Once the Redskins get down to 60, they only have to get rid of two players because they can have 47 on the "final" roster and then add six players to the expanded 53-man regular season roster and five more (all rookies) to the practice squad for a total of 58 players.

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