- The Washington Times - Friday, January 5, 2001

Promises of accountability, trust and commitment rattled around Redskin Park yesterday as stiff-backed, strong-jawed Marty Schottenheimer introduced himself as the Washington Redskins' new coach and director of football operations.

Owner Dan Snyder called the 57-year-old hire his "first official stamp" on the organization since taking control in May 1999. Snyder said he shares traits of enthusiasm, dedication and passion with Schottenheimer, who he predicted will "set the destiny" of the team after signing a four-year, $10 million contract.

The news conference began with Schottenheimer offering an explanation for his massive about-face on Snyder having recently and sharply criticized the owner during his former job as an ESPN analyst and ended with a chicken and egg debate about whether confidence precedes success or vice versa.

Through it all, and in the hours of individual interviews that followed, Schottenheimer sounded like a polished speaker and looked like a commanding leader someone whose personality just might be strong enough to overshadow Snyder's. Where former coaches Norv Turner and Terry Robiskie called Snyder "Mr. Snyder" in formal settings, Schottenheimer referred to his 36-year-old boss as "Daniel."

"I'm not a very complicated person," said Schottenheimer, who compiled the NFL's 12th-winningest record (150-96-1, including playoffs) while coaching the Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs. "Trust is important to me. Fairness is important to me. We all have a lot of work that needs to be done."

Few Redskins players were at the club's headquarters yesterday only wide receiver Michael Westbrook attended the news conference but several expressed confidence in Schottenheimer's leadership skills.

"He's rejuvenated, and that's what you want," defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield said. "He's a great name, a great leader. It's going to be fun."

Schottenheimer believed he had major philosophical differences with Snyder before meeting the owner on the advice of a friend assumed to be former NFL coach Dick Vermeil. Pepper Rodgers, the Redskins' vice president of football operations, then set up a hotel meeting between Snyder and Schottenheimer that lasted four or five hours and was followed by dinner at Schottenheimer's Charlotte, N.C., home with both men's wives.

"We're all aware of where I started off [in my opinion of Snyder], but when the opportunity presented itself to sit down, I wanted to do that," Schottenheimer said. "His passion for this football team is very evident… . [His] qualities became quite obvious. All of a sudden I said, 'Hey, that sounds like me.' "

The marriage seemed blissful yesterday, and forthcoming disputes are expected to be resolved by Schottenheimer's final say on football matters. Snyder has been perceived as having a heavy hand in personnel issues and even matters of playing time a criticism Schottenheimer had levied, saying the coach must have power to command respect from his players. Snyder, for his part, said yesterday, "I think I'm pretty hands off."

Said Schottenheimer, looking to Snyder and receiving his assertion: "If we have impasse, I'll have that vote."

The first task for Schottenheimer is to identify his coaching staff, and yesterday most members of the current staff yesterday were bracing to be fired or preparing to quit. Once selected, Schottenheimer wants the members of his staff to emphasize teaching.

In terms of players, Schottenheimer believes the Redskins have enough talent to win now, "if everyone falls into line." Despite a record payroll approaching $100 million, Washington was 7-6 when Turner was fired Dec. 4. The team finished 8-8 and out of the playoffs under Robiskie.

Schottenheimer will determine which players to keep by talking to each and seeing how ideals mesh. Said Schottenheimer: "I hope to talk to every player either in person or by phone, and determine how far they believe the organization can go."

He dismissed the notion of being excited about coaching stars like Bruce Smith and Deion Sanders, explaining that the job held a broader lure. The focus now, Schottenheimer said, is "to make those great, great players be part of a great, great team."

The quarterback situation looms foremost among Schottenheimer's personnel decisions, and he admitted being too unfamiliar with it to speak specifically about Brad Johnson or Jeff George. Philosophically, he made clear he wants no uncertainty at the position, saying, "There will be no quarterback controversy."

Schottenheimer claimed the Redskins' potentially tight salary cap situation was not a deterrent, having looked at the cap numbers within the last two months. Washington will have to make tough decisions this offseason and could get into trouble if it continues to spend freely.

The parity of the cap era NFL was praised by Schottenheimer, who said the league benefits by giving each team such real hope of success. Snyder acknowledged the equality the cap brings, then pointed to his hiring of Schottenheimer and said, "That's where coaching comes in."

Schottenheimer still had one year left on his contract with Kansas City, forcing the Redskins to give a third-round draft pick in 2001 and 2002 (each non-tradeable). The Chiefs had refused to confirm the Redskins' compensation Wednesday but did so yesterday, saying the final deal was not reached until a few minutes before Schottenheimer's 4 p.m. news conference.

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