Monday, November 5, 2001

Marty Schottenheimer and the Boy Owner are holding hands again, enjoying their late-night walks once more, promising yet again to be everything to one another the next four seasons.
They have endured so much together. They deserve this time together. Let them have their privacy. It makes your heart flutter.
It did not look good for them a couple of weeks ago.
They did not seem to be in it for the long haul. There was talk in the newspapers and talk on the airwaves.
People wondered what the two ever saw in one another, what the initial attraction was besides their mutual desperation. After the Boy Owner couldn’t land George Halas to coach the team, he started to feel like the know-nothing elf that he is and ordered Pepper Rodgers to give him an idea.
Talk to Dick Vermeil. He’ll talk to anyone. And this is what the Boy Owner did. Vermeil cried on cue for his old friend Schottenheimer, and just like that, there was a spark.
Schottenheimer professed not to like the Boy Owner before the coaching inquiry came along. But what is a talking head supposed to do with $10 million in front of him?
You try to get to know the man. You look the man square in the eye to see what is behind there.
You hear the words of the zillion people who have been fired by the man. They all said the same thing, even Sonny Jurgensen’s kid. It was their fault, not his. They were lousy employees. They should have been fired sooner than they were. They called the man the Father Teresa of the NFL. They said he was a good man, a smart man, a great man, the best man ever, and Schottenheimer came to understand that he was wrong about the man. He reached that conclusion right after the check cleared.
So maybe Schottenheimer is a blowhard, and maybe his principles are for sale. He can live with that. He is tough. He likes to think of himself as a general, although we in the sports media have promised to stop with the war metaphors while we the people are engaged in a real war. Schottenheimer is the general of nothing, really, just the coach of a bad football team that defeated Matt Hasselbeck’s team yesterday. You missed it? Good for you.
Schottenheimer took it “one play at a time” against the Seahawks. He has no choice as the all-knowing control freak who makes all the decisions within the organization, except the one when he is to be fired. His assistants, most of whom are related to him, have to get permission from Schottenheimer to exercise their First Amendment rights. Even then, they are obligated to stick to the script. They have to take it one play at a time, too. They have to blah, blah, blah. They don’t understand. How can they? They are only in the football business, where grunting is considered dialogue.
A couple of weeks ago, Schottenheimer spoke of his system, his big, bad system, the complexity of which baffles brain surgeons, rocket scientists and nuclear physicists. His team was 0-5 and appeared to have some quit in it. It was hard not to roll your eyes around Schottenheimer. That was then, so long ago.
Now the team is in the midst of a three-game winning streak, Schottenheimer is making a late bid to be the 20th-ranked coach of the year, and you can sense hope in the place formerly known as Raljon.
It is a false hope, because the Redskins are still an inept team. The NFL just happens to have a high number of inept teams. Here’s a sport that could use a serious amount of contraction, as baseball calls a mercy killing.
Even if the Redskins are the best 3-5 team in the history of the NFL, they are still 3-5 and well on their way to oblivion this season. They don’t seem to get that.
LaVar Arrington has been talking nonsense lately, warning the fair-weather types to stay away while the team is winning. You weren’t there when Arrington and his teammates could have used you.
That Arrington is something. Players on bad football teams usually aren’t too picky about who shows up to watch a game.
We all have our weaknesses. Some people can’t stay away from a second helping of ice cream. Others can’t stay away from a bad football team, even one as rejuvenated as this 3-5 one.
The team owes it all to Chris Weinke. Washington to Chris: Thank you for all the interceptions. Schottenheimer and the Boy Owner send their love as well.

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