- The Washington Times - Monday, October 15, 2001

You can throw out the record books tonight.
You can throw out the players, too.
Are you ready for some substandard football?
A Washington-Dallas football game used to come with a Roman numeral. Now it comes with a help-wanted sign.
The contretemps lend itself to Dennis Miller, the middle-aged quipmeister who tries too hard to be hip with his references to the Middle Ages.
Miller has attempted to let the game come to him this season, his second as the third-string blazer with "Monday Night Football."
You are advised to do likewise. Tonight is an expectation-free endeavor. Both teams are qualified to live down to it, and that goes double for Eric Dickerson.
Both teams are 0-4, which is the good news if you are Marty Schottenheimer. The Redskins have been outscored 135-25 in the four games, and you can't take that away from them. Not that you would want to take it.
Tony Banks, the starting quarterback by default, earned a push out the door from the Cowboys in training camp, which perhaps explains why the Redskins are a threat to no one but themselves on offense.
Schottenheimer must have misplaced the rap sheet on Banks. Before his cup of coffee in Dallas, Banks lost his job to Trent Dilfer, who eventually lost his job to Brian Billick's common sense.
Schottenheimer plays it all with a straight face, even around Banks, as if a straight face stifles the giggling in the background. Banks at least follows the orders, which usually result in three downs and a punt, the job's principal prerequisite that led to Jeff George's pardon. Washington assumes George accepted it with a belly laugh.
Apologies to Deion Sanders. He saw it coming first, this mess. One of his first acts as a commentator with CBS was to remind everyone.
Schottenheimer was the last to see it, judging by his insistence that an inept preseason revealed nothing. He is either the outgoing coach, the interim coach or the accidental coach, depending on which critic in the city is evaluating this wreck of a team.
Bad is bad until you get to the Redskins, in a good position to be history-making bad. Wake them when it is over.
For now, Bruce Smith is sleeping in the hotel lobby, Michael Westbrook is sleeping on the job, and Norv Turner is sleeping better than ever.
The temptation to link the Boy Owner to Jerry Jones is a symptom of permanent memory loss. Jones has three qualities on the Boy Owner, notably three Super Bowl rings, plus a new body enhanced by a diet and possibly Michael Jackson's plastic surgeon.
The Boy Owner recently blamed this newspaper for being a newspaper. He probably blames all bad weather on the Farmer's Almanac, too. Give him credit. He repainted the locker room in robust colors and fired Phyllis Hayes after assuming control of the franchise in the spring of 1999.
The Boy Owner undoubtedly is feeling the squeeze of a crowded marketplace, thanks to Michael Jordan and Jaromir Jagr.
The emergence of the football team in College Park is an added bonus. Ralph Friedgen is becoming a larger-than-life figure, and he has the quadruple X-large clothes to prove it. When he shows up in town, the ground quakes, along with the opposition and the all-you-can-eat restaurants.
How about those 6-0 Terps? They still have road games in Tallahassee, Fla., and Raleigh, N.C. They still have to deal with Clemson at home. They still have the formality of Duke and Troy State. But the Terps already have defeated the best opponent on their schedule. They already have exceeded the best-case scenarios going into the season. It is all good. So relax, guys. Enjoy the attention. Send a belated game ball to Joe Burns, the Georgia Tech tailback who ran out of bounds in the closing minutes of regulation, thereby allowing the Terps the time to make a game-tying scoring drive.
That maneuver appeared to be lifted out of the Redskins playbook.
The Boy Owner promised to shake things up following the cool, clinical stewardship of the Cooke family, and he has kept his promise, no question about it.
The former top dog in the area is now just a dog.
That is one dog to another tonight, a bowwowfest that could use the levity of the yukster in the ABC booth.

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