- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 29, 2002

Washington cornerback Darrell Green will get a curtain call while it's simply curtains for Dallas coach Dave Campo.
The Washington-Dallas rivalry ends another losing season for both teams today, but there's still a little drama.
Green bows out after 20 years with retirement ceremonies before and after the game, plus at halftime. The self-described "itty bitty" guy who went on to seven Pro Bowls, four NFL's Fastest Man titles and two Super Bowl rings may wait the mandatory five years to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but he'll enter the FedEx Field Ring of Fame today when he exits as the last link to the Joe Gibbs era.
Green won't abort his retirement like last year when he reconsidered before the final game. The 42-year-old is ready to rest after starting his team-record 258th game.
"I've spent the last couple of weeks really waking up, thinking about it in the middle of the night, just about the joy of the past, the excitement and exuberation of the present and the hope for the future," he said. "It all comes together like this big hurricane of thoughts because there are so many people involved and they're talking about yesterday, today and tomorrow. It's been a joyous career, including this year, and it's been a joyous experience across the board."
Green has never been one for sentiment. However, he permitted local broadcaster Frank Herzog, also an accomplished photographer, to take one pregame photo each week with a teammate or opposing player. The thought-provoking series of stills will end with Green probably choking on emotion.
"I tried to look up every game and just really breathe it in, particularly here at home. I thought it was important to do that. It's something I haven't done in my career," he said. "But this year I've tried, in my own way, to feel it. This is the ending I wanted. I think I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be, at the right time in the right city doing exactly what I'm supposed to do, and God has backed me up on that."
Teammates haven't accepted Green's departure, though. After all, he has been the mainstay of the organization when nearly everyone else has departed since owner Dan Snyder's 1999 arrival. And with the expected offseason losses, cornerback Champ Bailey, after just four seasons, probably becomes the senior Redskin next year.
"It really won't hit me when until Darrell's not here in training camp," Bailey said.
Certainly, the Redskins have other reasons to beat the Cowboys; foremost, there's the 10-game losing streak to their nemesis. The team hasn't finished winless in the NFC East since 1994 or gone three straight seasons without a winning home record since 1967. But giving Green a proper sendoff was the recurring theme in the locker room last week.
"We want to give this to Darrell and the fans because [Dallas has] been beating up on us for 10 straight games," Bailey said. "It doesn't mean a lot to other people, but we want to beat them more than anything."
Knocking off another Cowboys coach also wouldn't disappoint the fans, who chanted "We Want Dallas" after Washington beat Houston 26-10 on Dec. 22. Campo conceded he'll be fired after the game amid rumors Bill Parcells is the leading candidate to replace him. Perhaps that's why Campo broke the NFL code of avoiding bulletin board material by saying if the Redskins don't beat the Cowboys today they may never do it.
The brash statement didn't rile Washington coach Steve Spurrier, who was known for making such inflammatory remarks at Florida. Spurrier refused to be baited.
"I hope they come in here and don't try very hard, but that's not going to happen. They're going to give us their best shot," Spurrier said. "We can't worry about them. We have to worry about ourselves. We're not going to beat them accidentally. We have to earn it if we're going to beat them."
Spurrier's first season is an admitted failure at 6-9. He predicted the Redskins could win the division title and beat the Cowboys. Washington blew a 20-10 lead in the 27-20 loss to Dallas on Thanksgiving Day, but Spurrier gets one last chance to quell offseason criticism by defeating the Cowboys in the season-ender.
"People tend to remember your last game, but I don't want to make this the biggest game in the world. It's an important game. It's very important we try to beat these guys, but we don't want to go in there uptight," Spurrier said. "We want to go in there ready to play and prepared to finish the game. No matter what happens bad, we need to compete the entire game."
And then Washington heads into its ninth offseason in 10 years without reaching the playoffs. The roster will undergo revamping. A fifth defensive coordinator in five years may be needed if Marvin Lewis get a head coaching job. Players only wonder what might have been and will be.
"It's disappointing in what could have been," Bailey said. "I know it could have been better. I hate ending every year saying that. We have to make some changes. We have to start winning."

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