- The Washington Times - Friday, December 27, 2002

Dave Campo knows he's getting fired after Sunday's season finale, but his sad fate didn't stop the Dallas Cowboys coach from taking a shot at the archrival Washington Redskins on his way out the door.
"If the Redskins don't beat us this weekend, they may never beat the Cowboys [again] in the history of football," said Campo, whose Cowboys have won a series-record 10 in a row from their NFC East archrivals, including a 27-20 victory on Thanksgiving.
Campo's Cowboys are 5-10, giving him three straight double-digit loss seasons and a record of 15-32 (5-0 against the Redskins but just 10-32 against the rest of the league). That's a huge fall for a franchise that won three Super Bowls in four years from 1992 to 1995 and made the playoffs in the two seasons before he was promoted from defensive coordinator in 2000. However, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones looked downright ghoulish in discussing the job last week with the ultra-successful former New York Giants, New England Patriots and New York Jets boss Bill Parcells while Campo is still coaching the team.
"I happened to be ready to sit down for the pregame meal [before last Saturday's loss to Philadelphia] and I saw it on ESPN," Campo said. "That's the first news I had of it. But you don't know whether reports are true so it really didn't affect me at all going into the game."
So Campo didn't talk to his players about the rumors before the game. But as word spread, he felt obliged to bring up his near-lame duck status during Monday's team meeting.
"I'm disappointed that it got out," Campo said. "I would've liked to have dealt with it once the season was over. I have a tremendous relationship with Jerry Jones. I know for sure that he didn't want it to come out. Unfortunately it did. That makes it a little more difficult, but at the same time, understand the business. There are times that things have to be done in an untimely manner. Jerry kind of gave me an explanation of what was going on [during a meeting on Monday]. As far as I know, I have not been let go. I'm a Cowboy. I've been a Cowboy for 14 years. I certainly want the best for the Cowboys."
So does Jones, in his typically obtuse way.
No one is defending Campo's record. It's that Jones didn't wait to talk to Parcells until he fires Campo on Monday.
"I look at it as something that management has to make a decision on," said NFL career rushing leader Emmitt Smith, whose own return in 2003 is unsure because of his $9.8million salary cap figure and his approaching 34th birthday. "As players, we've got to finish this year on a positive note. If [Campo is fired], every player in this locker room and everybody on the staff will be evaluated by the next coach. Not only is Dave's job up for question, a lot of players' jobs in this locker room are up for question so the best thing we can possibly do is try to handle our jobs, try to go out and win and hopefully we'll keep everybody intact and have something to grow on."
Campo said he wants his players to have a "business as usual" attitude at Washington and not to try to win one for their nice-guy-finishes-last coach.
"At this point as far as how I play the players this weekend, it's still with 2003 in mind as well as trying to win the game," Campo said. "I've had a great ride, but there are some things I wish could have gone differently: The first year, [quarterback] Troy Aikman and [top receiver] Joey Galloway went down in the first game; our offensive line going down the way it did this year, we had nine different lineups with young guys switching positions and a young quarterback.
"This is probably the most disappointing year because expectations [of contending for a playoff spot] were there. I've had some great memories. And I feel good that at least I'm going out with a lot of respect from my team."

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