- The Washington Times - Friday, March 8, 2002

Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder conceded that signing cornerback Deion Sanders was a "mistake" during a banquet speech on Wednesday. He also said some coaches who were fired "deserved it."

Snyder, as keynote speaker of the Norfolk (Va.) Sports Club Jamboree, admitted the blockbuster $56 million deal for Sanders in 2000 was a bad move. Sanders ultimately earned $8 million for one season before retiring rather than play for coach Marty Schottenheimer in 2001.

Sanders was part of a near $100 million payroll that still limits the team's salary cap two years later. Sanders costs $5.1 million against the $71.1 million cap this season, and the team is just $1.7 million under the limit.

"It was a mistake it cost a lot of money," Snyder said, "[But] I'm betting that if Steve Spurrier was coach last year and not Marty Schottenheimer, Deion would have still played."

Snyder also spoke for the first time about Schottenheimer's dismissal, saying the latter's refusal to fire assistant coaches and relinquish some power forced his ouster after one season. Schottenheimer was given complete control of football operations and finished 8-8 after an 0-5 start. He'll still earn $3 million over the next three years from Snyder despite now being the San Diego Chargers' coach.

"Marty Schottenheimer would have still been with the Redskins if he had acknowledged that he needed some supporting cast and some help," Snyder said. "But he felt he wanted to remain in control of every activity, and I said, 'This is not the direction I want to take the club in.' I fired a few coaches, but they deserved it."

Snyder said he wants to be more involved after surrendering control to Schottenheimer.

"I care about the Redskins," he said. "One thing players, and particularly veterans, are looking for is an owner who really cares. They look for an owner who wants to be involved, if there are any issues or problems. That's what they see in me."

In a wide-ranging, question-answer session before 750 fans, Snyder said he doesn't envision the Redskins returning to the District and rebuffed offers from Maryland and District leaders to move Redskin Park from Ashburn. Va.

Cornerback Darrell Green was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Norfolk organization. Redskins Hall of Fame linebacker Sam Huff presented the award.

"I hope I live the kind of life people appreciate and get something out of," Green said. "I want to leave a legacy, and if it's only football, that's tragic. What's important to me is the success of the human race."

Meanwhile, Spurrier seemed pessimistic over the expected trade for Chicago quarterback Shane Matthews. Washington hoped to trade a late-round pick for the former Florida quarterback, but Chicago has become increasingly reluctant to part with the backup.

"We don't know where it's going to lead," Spurrier said. "They're not just going to give him up, but we'll see how it plays out."

Washington signed quarterback Dameyune Craig yesterday to a one-year, $375,000 deal. Spurrier liked the third-year veteran's mobility. Craig completed four of eight passes last year for Carolina before suffering torn ligaments in his foot. Spurrier said the team should sign one more quarterback by late March.

Center Cory Raymer yesterday signed a five-year, $10.5 million deal with the San Diego Chargers. He received a $2.5 million bonus. The Redskins are expected to pursue unrestricted free agent center Mark Fischer.

Washington's lukewarm interest in St. Louis Rams receiver Az-Zahir Hakim ended when he signed with the Detroit Lions for $16 million over five years. Washington is still considering Tampa Bay receiver Jacquez Green and New Orleans receiver Willie Jackson, along with Miami defensive end Kenny Mixon and New York Jets defensive tackle Steve Martin.

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