HARRIS: Love him or hate him, DeAngelo Hall not done in NFL

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ANALYSIS/OPINION:

By the time the NFL season starts in September, DeAngelo Hall is likely to be a distant memory. It isn’t like the Redskins released a future member of the Ring of Honor when they parted ways with Hall in a salary-cap move.

Someone will step into that cornerback slot and, if RG3 is recovered from his knee injury and under center, Redskins fans will start the season dreaming of a second straight NFC East championship.

But even if they go on and win the Super Bowl, the Redskins without Hall definitely won’t be as much fun.

Hall is one of a kind, on the good side and the bad side. When he was good, he was very, very good. He played in three Pro Bowls. When he was bad, he was very, very bad. He might have an NFL record for flags thrown because of his mouth.

You could legitimately love him and legitimately hate him, sometimes on the same play.

He’s a character and he will be missed, at least in this corner. No day is ever dull when D-Hall (or “Me-Lo” as he was sometimes called) is on the premises.

Hall intercepted Jay Cutler four times in one game. He got into a dustup with Atlanta coach Mike Smith in another. He shut down Dallas’ Dez Bryant in the 2012 season finale, a major reason the Skins beat the Cowboys to win the NFC East. He got into a much-publicized shouting match with an official in another game.

Pick your side, good or bad, and your list of D-Hall moments will be a long one.

“He’s a very confident, very competitive young man,” said Lorenzo Ward, who was the secondary coach during Hall’s collegiate career at Virginia Tech. “I think sometimes he let his emotions get the best of him in situations when he needs to walk away.

“But there’s no question DeAngelo is a great young man.”

Ward, now the defensive coordinator at South Carolina, probably knows Hall as well as anybody in football. As his coach at Tech, he too got to see plenty of highs and lows out of Hall.

The way Hall is now? He’s always been that way.

Hall scored touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams while at Tech. He was second-team All-Big East in 2002, first-team in 2003. On the other side, Hokies fans probably still have nightmares about Virginia’s Matt Schaub throwing to Heath Miller so often (13 catches, 145 yards) in 2003 and Hall being unable to stop it. That’s the only time in the past 14 meetings Virginia has beaten Virginia Tech.

He was also suspended for a half of a game for a fight with Miami’s Antrel Rolle.

Some Virginia Tech fans were thrilled when Hall left school early to head to the NFL. Some were disappointed. Redskins fans, no doubt, are also split on the Hall news.

“He’s a talker. I like that about him,” Ward said. “Sometimes, though, instead of letting that getting into his opponents’ head, he lets that get to him.”

Here’s a message for Hall’s next employer: People at Tech talked to him about toning it down, people with the Redskins talked to him about toning it down. You will talk to him about toning it down.

He won’t. Frankly, he shouldn’t.

Yes, he can aggravate even his most loyal supporters. But that emotion is what makes Hall Hall. If he scales back, you’ll get a few less penalties. You’ll get fewer big plays, too. Hall needs that emotion to play the way he does. It has its reward and it has a price. His next team should be ready to accept that going in because it isn’t going to change. You take on the good with the bad when you take on Hall.

There will be another employer, maybe even the Redskins if the market is soft and they can work out an acceptable deal. Hall played at Tech when he was only 17. Despite a nine-year NFL career, he won’t be 30 until November. He might not make as much money as he was due to make in 2013 (about $8 million). Someone will sign him.

“We get opportunities to watch NFL games,” said Ward, whose boss is former Redskins coach Steve Spurrier. “I thought DeAngelo played well last season. That’s why I think he can still play in that league. He’s done a good job taking care of his body. He’s not done.”

Good. That means the fun isn’t done.

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