ALBANY, N.Y. — A rejuvenated LaVar Arrington rolled into New York Giants training camp yesterday morning, hopeful the tumult of the last two years is behind him and determined to show the Washington Redskins and the entire NFL he can still be an impact outside linebacker.
“It’s a pretty weird feeling — different but good,” he told The Washington Times outside his dorm room at the University at Albany, where the Giants begin practicing today. “I’m able to be me again. That’s something that hasn’t existed for a little while now.”
Change was a hallmark of Arrington’s six seasons with the Redskins, a tenure highlighted by three Pro Bowl appearances but ultimately marred by a knee injury that limited him to four games in 2004, and the embarrassment of being benched early last year.
It is clear some of the wounds still linger for Arrington. He wasn’t critical of coach Joe Gibbs or assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams, saving his shots for owner Dan Snyder. Arrington was granted his release in early March when he agreed to forfeit $4.4 million in deferred bonus payments.
“I know Snyder would love to keep people saying the things that have been said about me,” Arrington said. “But he has to come up with some type of something about me in order to legitimize the dumb [stuff] that they do.”
That dumb stuff, Arrington said, is alienating proven veterans and firing coaches.
“They let us all go,” he said. “You can go further than just me, Ryan [Clark] and Antonio [Pierce]. Go back to Champ [Bailey]. Go back to Stephen Davis. Should I keep going? Go back to Brad Johnson. Even Marty [Schottenheimer]. We would be playing for Super Bowls had they kept Marty. And after [Steve] Spurrier left, that was it for me.
“I could tell something was different from the time the [current defensive coaching staff] got there and that different didn’t include me. All of a sudden, I couldn’t play. And then I got hurt. I came back and they used my injury as a reason to not play me.”
Through a team spokesperson, Snyder declined to react to Arrington’s comments.
As an eyewitness to the Redskins’ free agent spending for many years, Arrington isn’t surprised the Redskins spent money this year.
“It’s the same old thing every year,” he said. “They bring in somebody or do something to create some kind of buzz. I’m sold on the fact that they want to create a preseason buzz and don’t care whether they win or lose so they can make more money.”
Arrington said he hasn’t talked to any current Redskins players recently, instead focusing on developing bonds with his new teammates.
After his release, Arrington said the Giants weren’t immediately on his mind but with some prompting from Pierce, New York’s starting middle linebacker, and a fair offer from the Giants, Arrington was able to stay in the NFC East. He signed a 7-year, $49 million contract with New York — he’ll earn $8.95 million in signing bonus/base salary this year.
“I was just happy to get out,” he said. “I didn’t have anybody on my radar other than guys that I had been close with in past years — Marvin [Lewis in Cincinnati] and Coach [George] Edwards in Miami. I was focused on getting in contact with them. But I was so happy to get out of there, I didn’t even care where I was going to end up.”
The Redskins and Giants meet this year on Oct. 8 at the Meadowlands and in the Dec. 30 regular-season finale at FedEx Field.