- The Washington Times - Friday, March 10, 2000

The Boy Owner-led Redskins believe in conspiracy theories.

They believe that punter Matt Turk broke his finger at an athletic club in Herndon, Va., and not in a football game in Arizona.

They spent half the season whispering the accusation to one of the newspapers in town until finally they ran out of throat lozenges and had no choice but to part with the three-time Pro Bowl punter.

It did not matter that Turk insisted otherwise. It did not matter that trainer Bubba Tyer treated the finger in Arizona. It eventually did not matter how Turk broke his finger, only that he broke it and the Boy Owner-led Redskins looked foolish.

They still look foolish, of course.

They did not receive much in return for Turk, only a low-round draft pick to be decided later from the Dolphins.

So now they have a potential punting problem to go along with their other problems.

The Boy Owner-led Redskins have a funny way of doing business.

Most football teams do not believe in Oliver Stone, the man on the grassy knoll and the Wicked Witch of the West. Most teams do not fire secretaries to shore up their offensive line. Most teams do not fire the film crew to bolster their linebacking corps.

But most teams do not have someone like the Boy Owner in control.

The Boy Owner-led Redskins do not object to the unprofessional way their business is sometimes done, perhaps because they are too busy covering their backsides.

They have the right to express their dissent, and many generations of men have died in battle to grant them the right, but professional football, for all its alleged rugged individualism, is mostly a sport of sheep who take it one bleat at a time.

The Boy Owner-led Redskins now let their sources do all the talking.

The sources are like wartime censors.

In the interest of national security, the sources massage, bend and spin the information that is released to the public and leave it to historians to sort it out.

Fortunately, historians point out that Barry Sanders did not carry the ball one time for the Boy Owner-led Redskins last season.

Turk probably is the first NFL player ever to be traded because he was caught in a gymnasium.

Turk is different from most of the deportment-challenged players in the NFL.

He did not punch out a teammate. He did not wrap his vehicle around a tree after going 138 miles per hour. He did not rape and pillage the community. He is not a druggie. He has not been charged with murder.

Turk was caught in a gym, and in the New World Order of the Boy Owner-led Redskins, being in a gym cannot be tolerated.

Let this trade be a warning to Turk's ex-teammates in Ashburn, Va.

They have a responsibility to one another and to their coaches, families, communities and God, and they would be smart not to forget it. If one of the Redskins stumbles into in a gym next season, the player now knows the penalty.

Alas, this hard-line approach could end up being counterproductive to the team's won-lost record.

What happens if one of the Boy Owner-led Redskins punches out a teammate or the guy down the street?

What happens if a player being photographed in a gym is the least of the Redskins controversies next season?

As it is, after Turk's replacement shanks a couple of punts next season, the call-in talk show crowd will howl in protest and question the thinking that led to the departure of the three-time Pro Bowl player.

But that is next season.

Until then, the Boy Owner is making a personnel list and checking it in person, according to sources familiar with his travel itinerary.

Given his extensive background in football, if he didn't own a team, he probably would be handing out towels and water to the players.

It is just a thought, but the Boy Owner might want to add punters to his on-site inspection list.

Here's what you do: You pull out a stopwatch and clock the hang time on their kicks.

You're welcome.

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