- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 12, 2005

If Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs smoothed things over with LaVar Arrington yesterday, the three-time Pro Bowl linebacker certainly didn’t act like it as he exited Redskin Park in early afternoon.

A day after criticizing the organization on a number of fronts, Arrington blew off a group of reporters waiting to see whether he and Gibbs had made peace.

Having vented Monday about club officials — whom he accused of rushing him back from a knee injury, not showing enough appreciation for his hard work and mishandling news of his latest surgery — Arrington turned his venom on the media. In extremely brief comments, he took a swipe at reporters and refused to say anything positive about his meeting with Gibbs.

“I’m happy about trying to get my knee together, and that’s my main focus,” Arrington said. “Y’all got y’all’s stories that y’all want to write. Y’all want to depict me as a bad guy. I’m hurt. It is what it is. Y’all do what you want to do.”

He then gave a grumpy send-off before being driven away in a black BMW.

“Y’all have a great day,” Arrington said. “Fans, I still love you guys. And the ones who don’t — oh well.”

That the controversy was left awkwardly open-ended should come as little surprise given the player and the club involved. Arrington is Washington’s most high-profile and outspoken star, a player who last winter levied the spectacular accusation that the club had cheated him out of $6.5 million in a contract extension.

Redskin Park, meanwhile, has devolved into a theater of the absurd. In recent weeks the club has jettisoned its No. 1 receiver, lost two of its top defensive players in free agency, suffered Arrington’s accusations and, Gibbs yesterday revealed, been jilted in the offseason workout program by two former University of Miami stars who want new contracts.

Gibbs, the Hall of Fame coach who has found a very different NFL in his second stint, said these types of flareups have to be expected in the modern landscape.

“If you are involved in an NFL team today, you’ve got to kind of understand there’s a lot of things can happen,” Gibbs said. “I made a statement the other night to [my wife] Pat, ‘How could you come home every night and be worried about something?’ But it’s part of life. And I’m willing to say if you stacked us up against every other team, we’re probably on the low side of having problems.”

While that last statement remains debatable, Gibbs certainly seems to have made an earnest effort to resolve the Arrington controversy. After speaking with Arrington on Monday night, the coach met with his star linebacker again yesterday and held a teleconference with surgeon James Andrews to make sure everyone was fully aware of the upcoming rehab schedule, which should have Arrington healthy by the start of training camp in July.

The fact that Arrington then offered the public only a terse no-comment when asked about Gibbs’ amelioration efforts didn’t change Gibbs’ feeling that the situation is more or less resolved. Gibbs speculated that Arrington was “just frustrated.”

“I can’t speak for LaVar, but I know what went on in the meeting, I know what we all talked over, and then LaVar and I talked afterward,” Gibbs said. “Between him and I, I think we have a good agreement. I can’t guess, and I wouldn’t want to speak for somebody, but I would say he’s just frustrated.”

Like many NFL superstars, Arrington is wedded to the Redskins by the heft of his contract. His current salary cap figure of $5.5 million would swell to approximately $17 million if Washington were to trade him — meaning the move is impossible. Washington is only about $1.5 million below the spending the limit.

Despite Arrington’s latest setback, the linebacker position apparently hasn’t moved up the Redskins’ list of priorities for the April 23-24 draft. Gibbs reiterated that he doesn’t like going into any draft with a clear-cut need. He said the team feels as though it has “some options” at the position.

Arrington’s season, according to director of sports medicine Bubba Tyer, is “absolutely not” in jeopardy. And Gibbs spoke optimistically about the recovery of Mike Barrow, who missed last season with a knee injury but is expected to compete with Lemar Marshall to replace Antonio Pierce at middle linebacker.

“Mike Barrow is progressing,” Gibbs said. “It’s just been a long, hard recovery there. I think he’s scheduled to be full-bore running at the end of May.”

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