Spurrier stink leaves 'Skins smelling fresher

ON THE NFL

January 04, 2004|By KEN MURRAY

It was the perfect ending to the most imperfect marriage. When news broke last week that Steve Spurrier had resigned as coach of the Washington Redskins - and naturally, Spurrier was on a golf course at the time - it triggered widespread confusion, public ridicule and endless second-guessing.

Typical of the way Spurrier's two-year reign went, this was a good day at Redskins Park. There was an announcement, there was a denial (his) and there was a confirmation.

The old ball coach, as he liked to be called, was a dubious motivator, an ineffectual strategist and an unbudging nonconformist. He was also greatly overrated as an offensive innovator.

The Fun 'N' Gun offense was not very much fun, and there certainly was nothing threatening about it through 32 games and 20 losses with the Redskins. Well, not unless you consider the beating quarterback Patrick Ramsey was forced to endure trying to run it.

That Spurrier could never arrive at a reasonable protection scheme for his young quarterback tells you how much he misjudged the NFL game. Quarterbacks may be a dime a dozen in college, but good ones are hard to come by in the NFL. You don't treat them shabbily.

By the end, the team's leaders lamented the lack of discipline under Spurrier, a charge he dismissed as untrue. Perhaps in response, the Redskins announced that defensive tackle Darrell Russell, a player with character issues, would not be brought back.

Spurrier clearly marched to his own drummer, a point made clear when he headed home to Florida last week - pre-announcement - and did not inform his staff or any players of his plans. All this means, of course, is that he has failed twice in the NFL - as a quarterback and a coach.

But he did the impossible in his bungled departure, leaving $15 million in salary on the table. He made owner Dan Snyder look almost good.

Team Turmoil II

Talk about dysfunctional. There are the Redskins and then there are the Oakland Raiders. When soon-to-be-fired coach Bill Callahan deactivated cornerback Charles Woodson and running back Charlie Garner in the season finale in San Diego last week for "violation of team rules," there was a near mutiny by the Raiders' defensive backs.

Just before kickoff and just after Woodson removed his uniform, put on street clothes and left the stadium, cornerback Terrance Shaw asked the defensive backs what they wanted to do.

"When one dies, we all die," Shaw said. "We thought about, if he sits, we all sit. But that's disrespectful."

So the defensive backs played, the Raiders lost again, and they wound up with the second pick in the draft, losing the first choice to the Chargers on the strength-of-schedule tiebreaker.

Walking the walk

Self-absorbed wide receiver Terrell Owens showed his true colors once again in the waning minutes of the San Francisco 49ers' finale against the Seattle Seahawks.

With the 49ers trailing by four points and the Seahawks on the San Francisco 16, Owens, dressed in a beige suit and black sling for his broken left collarbone, left the bench and walked toward the locker room. When he got to the end zone, he waved to fans and disappeared, missing the 49ers' goal-line stand, a Seattle field goal and an aborted 49ers' drive to end the game.

There seems little doubt Owens will void the final three years of his contract and become a free agent. If the 49ers want compensation, they could slap the franchise tag on him and force a trade.

Not shy or retiring

Indianapolis Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt has hit all 37 field goals he has attempted this season, and his string of 41 consecutive successes in two seasons puts him one ahead of Gary Anderson for the league record.

He eclipsed Anderson's mark on a game-winning 43-yarder in Houston with the Texans applying reverse psychology. They told him he was the greatest kicker ever and that he couldn't miss.

Vanderjagt's response? Rubbing the fingers in his left hand against his left thumb, he told Houston cornerback Jason Simmons, "Sorry, man. I'm money. It's over."

Two-minute drill

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