- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 9, 2001

CARLISLE, Pa. — The Oldest Living (Active) Redskin stood beneath a shade tree yesterday afternoon at Dickinson College and talked about the possibility of not being a Redskin any longer. This has suddenly become an issue at Training Camp 2001, basically because new coach Marty "Scorched Earth" Schottenheimer has made no promises regarding Darrell Green's job status. Schottenheimer has even commented on No. 28's struggles trying to adjust to the new way of doing things.
Is Coach Marty trying to prepare the Redskins faithful for something? Or is he merely saying loud and clear, for the entire squad to hear that on his team, no player will be placed above the others. That what matters to him is performance, not reputation or years of meritorious service. That everything you get will be earned.
Whatever the case, Schottenheimer's refusal to embrace Green as tightly as his predecessors did has talk show tongues a-wagging. After all, it was assumed there would be a place for Darrell on this Redskins club, especially with Deion Sanders no longer in the picture. Maybe he would be a starter, maybe he would be a nickel back, but he would perform some useful function.
Nothing seems guaranteed now, though. Youngsters Donovan Greer and Fred Smoot are showing well, and that would seem to make Green and his $2.47 million cap number vulnerable. As Charles Mann and others have learned, there's little room for sentiment in this free agent system. If you don't play up to your paycheck, you're usually gone. And frankly, I can't think of any backup corners in the league pulling down $2.47 million.
"There used to be an Art Monk," Green said philosophically, "and then he was no more. There used to be a John Riggins, and then he was no more. Well, guess what? I'm not going to be here forever either… . But I'm not losing any sleep worrying about it. If [I don't make the team], hey, that's the way the ball bounces.
"I wasn't asking anybody to give anything to me anyway. I just said to myself, '[The starting job is] wide open. I want to go for it.' All I'm looking for is a level playing field and then I'm going to go and compete."
Green feels he's being given that. "I trust Marty Schottenheimer," he says. He also thinks people are focusing way too much on the changes the new coach is asking him to make in his coverage style. The biggest change is that Schottenheimer's cornerbacks line up 10 yards off the receiver; Darrell is used to lining up seven yards off a "dramatic" difference, he admits. Why? Because it gives the wideout more room to maneuver (and the corner more ground to make up on a short route).
But let's not forget, he says, "I've played under a number of different coaches, and they've had different philosophies, and I've been able to adhere to them. What Marty is saying [about my technique] is being misconstrued. He's not saying, 'What Darrell Green has done the last 18 years is wrong.' He's just saying, 'This is how I want it done.' This is no big deal to me.
"It becomes a big deal [to some], though, because of Marty Schottenheimer's persona, [because of] his perceived dominating personality. Look, all he's doing is being a head coach. And I just hope the fans will let him be the head coach and support him the way they supported Norv Turner and Joe Gibbs and on down the line. Because we are the Redskins. We're not the Schottenheimers."
It's strange to hear Green addressing such issues, isn't it? For years, he has been the Redskins' Cal Ripken an almost indestructible force. Eighteen seasons as a cornerback in the NFL, 17 as a starter? Ridiculous. But now, at 41, he's showing signs of mortality. He even sounds like a player who senses the end is near. Consider this utterance yesterday:
"No matter how this camp turns out, I've already won. [My career has been] a home run with the bases loaded. Everybody and his dog would love to be wearing this jersey [for as long as I have]."
Still, he's not quite ready to take the jersey off. A lot of work went into preparing for this season preparing for his final shot at being a starter and he's going to play out the hand, as his old boss, Richie Petitbon, might say. And in case you're wondering, there's absolutely no chance you'll wake up later this summer to this headline: Rather than be cut, Green decides to call it quits.
"Darrell Green ain't retiring, period," he says. "That ain't about to happen. You can count on it. Besides, if I was going to retire, I would have retired 10 minutes into the first [sweltering training camp] practice."
Darrell Green wearing another team's uniform. Now wouldn't that be a perfectly awful sight?

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