Frerotte, new stadium in Redskins' spotlight QB looks to rebound from 3-INT performance

September 14, 1997|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

There is no quarterback controversy in Washington.

Not yet, anyway.

Everybody connected with the Washington Redskins has spent the past six days calling Gus Frerotte's three interceptions in a 14-13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday a major aberration.

They fully expect him to bounce back today with the type of steely-nerved, razor-sharp performance that was common almost every Sunday last season, when Washington started 7-1 before fading to 9-7 behind a defense that virtually collapsed.

Certainly, Frerotte will have a big stage to perform on today at 1 p.m. against the Arizona Cardinals, as the Redskins play their first game in the new, $180 million, 80,116-seat Jack Kent Cooke Stadium in Landover.

"Gus is a great quarterback," said Redskins left tackle Shar Pourdanesh. "He's a Pro Bowl quarterback. I don't know what happened last week, but it happens to all quarterbacks, even the great ones like Dan Marino. Gus has nothing to prove."

Frerotte almost predicted his fate a few days before the game when he said, "I hope I don't get so emotional I throw the ball away."

He was performing for the first time at Three Rivers Stadium, just 30 miles from his hometown of Ford City, Pa., and 40 friends and family members were in the stands, including his father, Gus, who had a heart transplant in May.

Whatever the reason, Frerotte was certainly out of character since he had thrown only 11 interceptions all of 1996.

It was easily his worst game since coach Norv Turner ended the Frerotte-Heath Shuler controversy in August 1996 by making Frerotte No. 1.

The fourth-year quarterback could have been forgiven for being a bit on the defensive side and maybe sneaking out on a few interviews and keeping to himself.

However, the opposite happened.

On Monday afternoon, Frerotte allowed reporters to grill him for about 20 minutes in the parking lot as he stood next to his car waiting to leave for home.

Earlier Monday, Frerotte shelled out a bunch of $20 bills to buy pizza for his teammates during a break from team meetings.

Later that evening, he kept his end of a season-long deal to treat members of the offensive unit to dinner at a Tysons Corner restaurant every Monday night.

Throughout the rest of the week, the man who beat the odds and made it big despite being a seventh-round draft pick didn't dodge anybody.

"It was one game. We threw the ball well at times but made a couple of mistakes," Frerotte said. "That's why they play 16 of these. We're 1-1 like everybody else in the NFC East."

When asked what he had learned from Sunday's game, Frerotte said without cracking a smile, "Stay away from Sonny [Jurgensen]."

Jurgensen is the Redskins' Hall of Fame quarterback who does color commentary on the Washington radio network and has a television show. He was very critical of Frerotte in Pittsburgh.

With Terry Allen expected to return to the Redskins' backfield this week after missing the Steelers game with a broken left thumb, Frerotte will have more weapons to use, so maybe he won't have to face the wrath of Jurgensen again.

Pub Date: 9/14/97

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