- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 6, 2000

The Boy Owner has cleared up one misconception this week.

Pepper Rodgers is not dead.

Rodgers was employed with the company whose name graces the bowl by the Beltway. His stadium suite was next to the Boy Owner's, and one thing led to another until one frustrating day it became clear that Rodgers could help undo the damage with his quips, insights and leftover speeches from the USFL.

Rodgers might have become the interim coach of the local NFL team instead of Terry Robiskie if the subordinates had responded more favorably to the possibility.

"You must make them suffer," Rodgers says.

Rodgers means the opponents and not the fans who pay $20 to park their vehicles in Abe Pollin's old lot. Those fans cross the Beltway overpass by shuttle bus and then commence to suffer in earnest.

Misery is said to love company, which came out to 83,485 in the last game, not counting the guilty parties in burgundy and gold.

Eddie Murray has aged three more days since Sunday. That is good compared to the fans. Most are aging in dog years this season.

Michael Westbrook claims Norv Turner lost two games this season. He didn't specify which two.

By Westbrook's fuzzy math, the players are 7-4, Turner 0-2.

Westbrook is one to talk. He was stuck on 34 receptions in his first three seasons, which is impressive compared to his output this season.

There's nothing like kicking a person when he is down. Considering the source and the team's kicking game, perhaps Westbrook should start limbering up his right leg. It couldn't hurt, and as it is, Westbrook is not meeting his pass-catching duties.

Robiskie learned lots of football with the Raiders. He insists he loves Al Davis like a stepfather, although the feeling is not necessarily mutual.

Davis' oft-quoted mandate is applicable to Robiskie: Just win, baby.

Robiskie is being granted half a chance to show his stuff and lose the interim from his title.

That comes out to three consecutive wins to close the regular season and at least one victory in the playoffs. Robiskie's unveiling did not come with those strict conditions, only considerable speculation about who might follow him.

The Boy Owner is said to be interested in a number of big names, possibly even Chuck Noll, Chuck Knox and Chucky. The names play well in the newspapers and on all the shows that honor and celebrate the local NFL team, not unlike the Boy Owner's attempt in the offseason to buy a championship.

In the end, it still comes down to blocking and tackling, plus kicking the ball through the uprights. It still comes down to 7-6, or 7-4, depending on your view of Westbrook's assessment. Regardless, the NFL probably is not inclined to purge Turner's two losses from the team's record, although recounts have become a national obsession.

The team remains in a form of playoff contention. To figure it out, you are urged to employ a calculator, slide rule and crystal ball. Prayers could be helpful, too. The number is up to you.

Focus is the buzz word of the moment, one game at a time the catch phrase. This qualifies as the dawn of an era in football. Some coaches spout the inanities with more conviction than others.

A date in Dallas is potentially disruptive, if only because the Cowboys tend to suspend their bad habits against the local NFL team. The Cowboys have won the last six meetings between the teams, and their 4-9 indictment hardly matters.

You can throw out the records in this one, along with the coach, special teams coach and the kicker, either Murray or his replacement or the replacement after them.

At least Westbrook is hopeful, if his attempt to become either Robiskie's consultant or agent is to be trusted. Westbrook expects the team's play-calling and intensity level to improve.

So take notice, Dallas.

There is a new football sheriff in the place formerly known as Raljon, and he has three games to make his case.

"One game is enough to show what you can do," he says.

The game is Sunday.

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