- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 26, 2000

This should be a time for looking back to plan ahead, an examination of what went wrong with the Washington Redskins to determine what needs to be done to get things right.

But before that happens, I come to praise the Redskins, not bury them the 1999 version, that is.

It seems that Deion Sanders doesn't think that 1999 Redskins team that won the NFC East division crown and came within two points of going to the NFC title game was very good at all. He says they were lucky to win a weak division, and he scoffed at their playoff win over Detroit last year.

Isn't it funny that the ultimate Mr. Me always seems to say it's not his fault when things go wrong?

It wasn't his fault that he was a stiff on punt returns. It was his teammates' fault.

It wasn't his fault that a team with such high expectations coming into this season finished just 8-8, managing to salvage a .500 season with a 20-3 win Sunday over Arizona. It wasn't a good team when he got here.

After all, what can one man do?

If that 1999 Redskins team wasn't so hot, why did Sanders say he came here with the intention of winning a Super Bowl? Why come play for such a lousy team?

And how does that make teammates like Darrell Green and Marco Coleman feel? Sorry, boys, you were just lucky. You weren't really that good.

I wonder if Deion shared his feelings with Dan Snyder when the two of them had dinner before he signed with the Redskins? "Danny, I'll come here since I like you so much and all, but really, this team isn't very good. I'll do what I can."

What does it say about Deion that they turned out to be worse with him here? That sometimes you can believe what you see. Despite all the talk about what a great teammate Deion really is, it turns out the self-promoter you've listened to all these years is the real Deion. The so-called good teammate in the locker room is the show. Remember, Daryl Johnston, the former Cowboys fullback, warned us about that.

The 1999 team may not have ranked among the Redskins greats. But it was a team, something that the 2000 version never was. When the Redskins were 7-5 with four games left last year, they didn't fold. They won three of their last four.

Then again, when they were 7-5 the coach wasn't fired, either.

It was a good enough team to build on, and the additions this year should have made them better. In one way, it really came down to a field goal kicker. During the training camp circus at Redskin Park last summer, Snyder's security ordered former Redskin Mark Moseley off the field.

Maybe Snyder should have been having dinner with Moseley instead of Deion.

If Deion didn't think the 1999 team was very good, he may want to pass on playing for the Redskins next season. The 2001 team would gladly inherit the 1999 team because next year's squad is looking at a big problem.

Brad Johnson won't be the quarterback. Jeff George will.

We all got a look at another standout teammate Snyder added this year in George, who some people in this town touted as the Redskins' best chance to win. He wound up with a record of 1-4 in five starts and showed his true colors by ignoring Terry Robiskie's play calling.

They are stuck with this guy next year as their starting quarterback. No one can be thrilled about that, particularly whomever the next Redskins coach will be.

That is going to be a hoot, watching Dan and Pepper Rodgers try to find a new coach. If they hope to bring in a big name, the deal will have to include all sorts of affidavits swearing that there won't be any postgame meetings or phone lines down to the sidelines or any of the other management traits that have made Snyder the poster child for bad owners. If they go the route of hiring the untested NFL assistant, there will be even more questions about who is in charge and even more of a path between the locker room and the owner's suite, bypassing the coach's office.

Years from now, when they are looking at these Redskins teams, people will say that the 1999 Redskin team was a decent squad, probably the best since the last Super Bowl team. People will say that the 2000 team was a disappointing unit, failing to live up to not only media hype, but their own expectations.

And the 2001 squad? A space odyssey, for sure maybe into a black hole.

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