Trent Dilfer never expected to be a Washington Redskin.
In his first interview of the offseason, January’s Super Bowl-winning quarterback said Jeff George’s presence as the Redskins’ No. 1 passer made signing with Washington not as tempting as it might have been despite the appeal of playing for coach Marty Schottenheimer.
“I like Marty’s [ball-control] style of play, but Washington isn’t something I pursued,” Dilfer said yesterday from Lake Tahoe, Nev. where he was preparing for the start of the American Century Celebrity Golf Classic. “They have a lot [of money] invested in Jeff. Bringing me in might not have been the best thing for the team. I have never wanted to undercut a guy.
“I wasn’t interested in coming in as [the clear] No. 2. I wanted it to be an open competition. I don’t think that might have been the best situation.”
More than four months have passed since Dilfer hit the market and the Baltimore Ravens lured Elvis Grbac from Kansas City as his replacement, but he’s no closer to finding “the best situation” than he was when the free agent signing period began.
“Circumstances haven’t worked out the way I thought they would, but I won’t let circumstances dictate how I prepare,” said the 29-year-old Dilfer, who said he has worked hard to become bigger and stronger this offseason. “You can’t control a lot of things. Good guys don’t always have things go their way. Hard work doesn’t always pay off. But if you’re patient and have character, you can accomplish what you set out to accomplish. I’m pretty confident that I’ll be playing football this season. I plan on playing for a lot longer.”
Dilfer said he rejected overtures from lowly Cincinnati to be its starter and from contenders Indianapolis and Green Bay to back up Peyton Manning and Brett Favre, respectively, two of the NFL’s best and most durable quarterbacks. But with training camps opening this month, there are no more starting jobs available.
“Kansas City is the only situation I really wanted to happen, but [Chiefs coach] Dick Vermeil was very honest with me,” Dilfer said. “He said Trent Green was his first choice and that they would sign me if they couldn’t trade for Trent.”
Kansas City did acquire Green from St. Louis, and Dilfer remained unemployed as Brad Johnson (Tampa Bay), Doug Flutie (San Diego), Jon Kitna (Cincinnati), Matt Hasselbeck (Seattle) and Jeff Lewis (Carolina) found starting jobs. So did Tony Banks (Dallas), whom Dilfer replaced in Baltimore last October with the Ravens’ offense at a standstill. Dilfer went 11-1 as the starter for a team that had been 5-3 and struggling.
Dilfer completed 59 percent of his passes with 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He was at his best in the playoffs as Baltimore beat Denver, Tennessee, Oakland and the New York Giants.
“I’m very proud that I’m one of 22 quarterbacks to win a Super Bowl, but at the same time, I was a victim because I sat back and didn’t ask for credit,” said Dilfer, who acknowledges that the defense was the driving force in the Ravens’ surprising championship.
“There has been some interest. There will be some desperate teams. There will be injuries. There will be teams that find out that the guys they have aren’t the guys they thought.”
Meanwhile, Dilfer will get his competitive jollies on the golf course where he has a zero handicap. He has finished fourth twice in the six years he has played the Lake Tahoe event, which will be televised on NBC tomorrow and Sunday.