- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 3, 2004

DALLAS — Former Washington Redskins coach Steve Spurrier, the man who created the Fun ‘n’ Gun offense, said yesterday he walked away from the final three years of his contract because, ironically, he wasn’t having “a lot of fun.”

Yesterday was the first time Spurrier spoke publicly since leaving Washington on Dec.30 after leading the team to a two-year record of 12-20. The home of the Dallas Cowboys is a strange place for a deposed Redskins coach to appear, but Spurrier was in town for a long-arranged speech hosted by the SMU athletic forum and decided to hold a news conference.

Spurrier, who completed only two years of a five-year, $25million contract, the richest ever given to an NFL coach, realized his offense wasn’t working in the NFL and said he doubted it ever would for Redskins owner Dan Snyder.

“There was no light at the end of the tunnel in the direction our coaching staff and our team was headed,” Spurrier said. “Mr. Snyder basically wanted me to probably change a lot of coaches — which actually probably needed to be done — and I said, ‘Hey, maybe it’s best if I step aside and you get a new head coach and new assistant coaches and have a go at it.’”

He said his two seasons with the Redskins “overall, weren’t a lot of fun.” He said he’d do a lot of things differently if he returns to the NFL, but wouldn’t elaborate because he didn’t want it to seem like he was making excuses.

He did hint at sharing the blame, saying, “Whether we had a good team or not is for someone else to decide.”

Since Spurrier left, Snyder lured Joe Gibbs back as coach and has spent a lot of money in trades for quarterback Mark Brunell and running back Clinton Portis.

“Time will tell. But certainly I think they’ve made moves to strengthen their team,” Spurrier said.

He does not regret jumping to the NFL, but there were things he missed about college, especially “big games, big crowds.” After all, even the Redskins-Cowboys game lacks the atmosphere of Florida-Georgia, known as the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.

“We weren’t in a lot of big games the last couple of years because we weren’t in the playoff hunt,” said Spurrier, who lost 10 of his last 12 games as Redskins coach.

Since resigning via cell phone from a Florida golf course, Spurrier has kept a low profile, even ducking through airports in sunglasses and a hat.

He’s not trying to hide anything. He’s just enjoying retirement after 20 seasons as a “head ball coach” in college and pro football.

Spurrier says his new life is so relaxing that he plans to do nothing more strenuous this fall than watching his son’s high school games.

He’s not interested in broadcasting and won’t return to the sideline — not in 2004 and possibly never.

“I’ll be low-key, out of sight for a year, definitely,” he said. “Maybe I’m finished. I don’t know yet.”

In a nod to his surroundings yesterday, Spurrier said he might follow the career path of former University of Texas coach Darrell Royal, who retired in 1976 at age 52 and never returned.

“He and I have a lot in common,” said Spurrier, who turns 59 next month. “We enjoy playing golf, being with our family and having fun.”

Does that mean when — or, if — he returns, he’d prefer working Saturdays instead of Sundays?

“You’ve got to have opportunities and you don’t know where your opportunities are going to be — if you’re seeking opportunities,” he said. “That’s the question right there.”

Having already envisioned life as a spectator, Spurrier doesn’t expect to go through coaching withdrawal this fall when he’s watching his son, Scott, play or when he’s watching college and pro games on television.

Scott’s final year in high school is keeping the family in Virginia.

“Airplanes still fly back and forth to Florida, so we get a chance to go back there as often as we can,” he said.

Spurrier flew from Florida to Dallas wearing his usual hat-and-shades disguise. It worked so well that he had to spell his name for an airline employee.

“He said, ‘I didn’t recognize you, coach,’” Spurrier said. “I said, ‘That was the idea.’”

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