- The Washington Times - Friday, September 14, 2001

Watching the World Trade Center burn from his nearby Morristown, N.J., home, Washington Redskins guard Dave Szott spent two hours Tuesday trying to locate Kevin Szott, his blind brother. He said not knowing his brother's fate while watching the twin towers fall was terrifying.

Kevin Szott heard wreckage hit a nearby window in his office, where he worked as an insurance broker. A friend soon led him from Five World Trade Center which later collapsed and he called his brother after taking a ferry across the Hudson River. Dave Szott spent his day off from football "as panicked as I've been in my life."

"To see [the World Trade Center] no longer part of the landscape of New York is amazing to me," he said. "I grew up six miles away, and I used to see them from anywhere I was."

Many Washington Redskins yesterday supported the NFL's cancellation of Sunday's games, including their home opener against the Arizona Cardinals. Szott and his teammates felt the Pentagon and World Trade Center tragedies would make it hard for them or fans to enjoy the games.

"The NFL is right in doing this," safety Keith Lyle said. "We in the NFL care, and we want to show it's important to us that we don't have to play these games. This is unprecedented, so why are we in such a rush? It makes no sense to me. Let's calm down. Why would we rush back to our normal lives? There's still people out there to be looked for. I don't think there's a guy in the NFL that wants to play."

The Redskins canceled practice yesterday after learning of the NFL's stance and won't resume until Monday when they start preparing for the next game, against the Green Bay Packers Sept. 24.

Defensive end Marco Coleman and running back Ki-Jana Carter returned for the morning meeting after being unable to catch return flights Tuesday, but tight end Walter Rasby remained in New York. The team will participate in an undisclosed community event in the Washington area today.

"Personally, my desire would be to go down and get our hands wet at the Pentagon," cornerback Darrell Green said. "There are people who are hurting out there, and we're a bunch of free bodies. We can go and lend our hearts, lend our hands, lend our prayers. That's what our owner, our coaches and our players are hoping to do."

Players conceded they were emotionally spent two days after the tragedy. They felt poor concentration during meetings might have left them vulnerable during games.

"I don't know if anybody's mind is on football," said Pro Bowl tight end Stephen Alexander. "I can't imagine having to go play football. There's too much going on."

Said quarterback Tony Banks: "I was in and out. We were practicing and game planning, so it was the only opportunity to get [the tragedy] out of our mind, but once practice is over you can't help but think about it."

Many players left practice still shaken by the tragedy. Images of the destruction seemed overwhelming.

"We saw a plane [fly] into a building," Green said. "I still can't get that out of my mind."

Players said they were more concerned about stadium safety than flying to road games. Redskins owner Dan Snyder said security will be increased at FedEx Field, which was sealed minutes after the Pentagon explosion. Players said the presence of 85,000 fans would make an attractive target for terrorism.

"If someone wants to be a suicide bomber, there's a lot of damage that could be done," said defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson. "I don't think things will be normal for some time or ever again."

Defensive end Bruce Smith recalled increased security at Super Bowl XXV in Tampa, Fla., when he played for the Buffalo Bills during the Gulf War.

"I can remember vivid pictures of Apache helicopters flying above the stadium," he said. "The canceling of a game or two is the least of our concerns. We're more concerned with the state of America and the innocent people that lost their lives and the devastating effect this has on America."

Szott will spend Sunday at home with his family in New Jersey. He'll gaze at the New York skyline from his front yard and wonder why anyone would want to watch football instead.

"I can't see anybody cheering on Sunday for anything," Szott said.

* Staff writer Jody Foldesy contributed to this report.


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