- The Washington Times - Monday, December 25, 2006

The Redskins were 7-0, on their way to a team-record 11-0 start, when coach Joe Gibbs called Charles Mann into his office at old Redskin Park in Herndon.

“The only way you get a call like that was if you said something inflammatory to the media or you didn’t perform well,” recalled Mann, a defensive end and one of the team’s stars in 1991. “But I hadn’t done anything like that. Within minutes, he ripped into me. ‘You’re not jumping over piles like you used to. You’re not, you’re not, you’re not.’

“When I went downstairs, I went off in practice and had a great game that weekend. Then I was laying in bed thinking, ‘Man, Joe just played me.’ He fired me up and made sure human nature didn’t set in and we’d start cutting corners. Then I found out he called in other leaders, too, and did the same thing.”

It was one of the few times Gibbs had to supply motivation. Most of the time, it came from the team’s veterans. Mann was in his ninth season, one of several holdovers from the 1983 team that lost to the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XVIII but was probably better than the team that won the Redskins’ first Super Bowl the previous year.

The onset of free agency in 1993 changed everything.

“The closeness we had, it was amazing,” Mann said. “We had a bunch of leaders, and those leaders rose up. Leaders in the community, leaders in their homes. Some of us led by example. Art Monk wasn’t gonna say anything, but he led by example. Gary Clark would curse you out. Then he’d play on two torn hamstrings. If that guy is giving it up for the team, how can you complain about anything?

“It wasn’t just the blacks and the whites. It wasn’t the offense and the defense. Joe didn’t have anything to do with that. We did. But he created the environment.”

Gibbs, Mann said, also created a sense of belonging. Not to a team but something bigger.

“We were in the community,” he said. “We gave ourselves to the community. Joe got us to buy into that.”

In 1991, Mann led the team with 11 sacks and made the Pro Bowl for a fourth season. He spent the last of his 12 NFL seasons with San Francisco in 1994, going to another Super Bowl. Since then, he has dabbled in broadcasting, worked as a motivational speaker and served on the boards of Loudoun Hospital and INOVA Health Systems.

He and Monk own a credit card company. But Mann’s most lasting contribution is the Good Samaritan Foundation, which provides career training, guidance and counseling to area youths. Mann, Monk, Tim Johnson and Earnest Byner, all of whom were teammates in 1991, started the foundation.

“We had a bunch of unselfish guys,” Mann said.

He was not speaking only of how they played.

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