- The Washington Times - Monday, December 28, 2009

In town to see his old team play the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night, former Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs visited the press box before the game to say a few words about friend and sportscaster George Michael, who died Thursday.

Gibbs spoke fondly of Michael, citing his “courage” in battling cancer and his generosity.

Then the conversation inevitably turned to the plight of the Redskins.

Wearing a black leather jacket with the team logo, Gibbs proclaimed himself “probably the biggest Redskins fan there is.” But the Hall of Fame coach who served two terms with the club said he was not consulted by owner Dan Snyder on the forced resignation of Vinny Cerrato nor the hiring of Bruce Allen as the new general manager.

“I don’t think I should have been,” he said. “I’m not here. I’m gone, and so I don’t think that was my place. I think Dan and the other people that he’s conferring with to make those decisions, I think that’s the right way to make it. They’re here all the time, spending all their time with it, and that’s the way it should be.

“For me, personally, I haven’t talked with Dan about major decisions or anything. When I talk to him, it’s kind of as a friend. I just know he has a burning passion for the team and he’s trying to do what’s right.”

Gibbs said he was “comfortable” working with Cerrato during their four seasons together (2004 through 2007), adding that the pair had a “great working relationship.”

Gibbs said he was too involved with his family and his NASCAR team to consider yet another return to the club in any capacity.

Preparing for change

In the wake of the disastrous 2009 season, many Redskins players know their jobs are in jeopardy for 2010.

Sure, rookie standout Brian Orakpo will be back, as should highly paid former Pro Bowl players Albert Haynesworth, DeAngelo Hall and Santana Moss. But many of the dozen players who have played at least five seasons for the Redskins were left wondering whether Sunday’s game was going to be their last in a home uniform at FedEx Field.

Cornerback Fred Smoot, who is nearing the end of the third year of his second stint with the team, wants to return to Washington. However, no one knows what to expect from Allen, hired less than two weeks ago, and what could be an entirely different coaching staff not tied to any of the old hands.

“You gotta be optimistic, but this place is gonna get new everything,” Smoot said.

Rock Cartwright already is assuming he’s in his final run with the Redskins. One of the team’s longest-tenured players, Cartwright turned 30 this season, and he has seen his return role diminished.

“Your last home game of the season, you always look around because you don’t know if you’ll be back,” Cartwright said. “If it’s my last home game here, I had a good career here. I would miss the fans.”

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