- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 6, 2005

Gibbs addresses fans

The Fan Appreciation Day crowd was only about a third as large as last year’s, which shows what a hugely disappointing 6-10 season, a somnolent offense and a curious offseason can do to dampen enthusiasm.

But the 7,325 who made the effort to get here as early as 6 a.m., when the parking lots and gates opened, were warmly welcomed by coach Joe Gibbs, who told them how they are “the best fans in the world.”

Gibbs explained a little about the team’s practice routine, bragged about his players’ commitment to the offseason program and talked about their character being evident during the tough times of 2004. Notably, instead of saying that the Redskins will be much improved, Gibbs twice used the word “hopefully” when discussing what he expects this season.

After his remarks, Gibbs took a few questions shouted out from the largely burgundy and gold-clad crowd. When he said the players’ upbeat attitude is what gives him the most optimism for this season, he added that their enthusiasm pumps up the other coaches, too. Then he added this gem about his chosen profession: “We’re kind of a goofy group. We spend our life telling people, ‘Jump higher. Run faster. Hit ‘em. Kill ‘em.’ And we get paid for it. Can you believe that?”

After practice, Gibbs and the players signed autographs for more than 45 minutes.

Carter visits team

Cornerback Tom Carter, Washington’s No. 1 draft pick in 1993 and a starter during his four seasons with the Redskins, was inside the ropes with a VIP pass. Carter helped mentor current Redskins corners Walt Harris and Artrell Hawkins when he was their teammate in Chicago and Cincinnati, respectively.

Carter, 32, earned a degree in finance from Notre Dame, but after his football career ended with the Bengals in 2001, he decided to go into teaching. He’s about to start his second year teaching math at Dominion High School in Sterling, Va. Carter also is coaching his eldest son Alex’s Little League football team and was busy copying plays and coverages that the Redskins were running.

Center Jeff Bostic, running back Ricky Ervins and long snapper Trevor Matich were the other ex-Redskins on hand. Former Oklahoma quarterback and congressman J.C. Watts also was watching.

Taylor-made

A fan wearing a No. 56 Giants (Lawrence Taylor) jersey held up a sign that said “Free Sean Taylor” in reference to the safety’s upcoming trial on a felony assault charge and a simple battery misdemeanor. Of course, LT — no relation to Sean — had more than his share of off-field troubles during his Hall of Fame career.

Catch of the day

Receiver Jamin Elliott, who got into three games for Chicago in 2002 and 2003 before being out of the league last year, is a long shot to make the team. However, the 25-year-old Delaware product beat Washington’s No. 1 corner, Shawn Springs, with a spectacular one-handed grab down the sideline that wowed the crowd.

By popular acclaim

An unofficial perusal of fans wearing Redskins jerseys showed that linebacker LaVar Arrington’s No. 56 and running back Clinton Portis’ No. 26 were the most popular.

OVERHEARD

“I look around and one good thing, I know we don’t have any Dallas people here. They’re the ugliest people in the world.”

— Coach Joe Gibbs joking about how much the Redskins-Cowboys rivalry still means to him.

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Noon scrimmage vs. Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore

David Elfin

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