- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Steve Spurrier resigned as coach of the Washington Redskins on Tuesday, ending a failed attempt to bring his Fun ‘n’ Gun offense to the NFL.

“This is a very demanding job,” Spurrier said in a statement released by the team. “It’s a long grind and I feel that after 20 years as a head coach, there are other things that I need to do.”

Spurrier quit three days after the Redskins finished 5-11 by losing 10 of their last 12 games. Spurrier’s record was 12-20 over two seasons.

“I simply believe that this is the right time for me to move on, because this team needs new leadership. … I’ve enjoyed my time in Washington. Obviously, all of the losing can wear you down, but I believe that the franchise is headed in the right direction,” the coach said.

Spurrier confirmed his resignation after two hours of confusion during which he told a newspaper he hadn’t quit - even though the team announced that he did. Spurrier was not aware that final details already were worked out between his agent and the team.

“We had a little miscommunication there,” Spurrier told The Associated Press.

The coach called owner Dan Snyder on Tuesday morning to offer his resignation, and Snyder accepted with “much regret,” according to the team. Spurrier then told Snyder to work out the final details with agent Jimmy Sexton.

With Sexton in Memphis, Snyder in Washington, and Spurrier on a golf course in Florida, the coach didn’t know that all the issues had been resolved when he told The Washington Post, “I have not resigned.” Minutes later, after hearing from his agent, Spurrier acknowledged he was quitting.

He walks away from the final three years of a five-year, $25 million contract, the richest ever for an NFL coach. His replacement will be the fifth head coach since Snyder bought the team in 1999.

Spurrier said repeatedly in recent weeks that he planned to return for a third season, although there was wide speculation about his future with the Redskins.

Still, his resignation was “totally unexpected” by the team, according to spokesman Karl Swanson.

Spurrier clashed with Snyder over personnel moves this season, particularly the owner’s decision to cut quarterback Danny Wuerffel at the end of training camp.

But Spurrier also was hurt by an inability to enforce discipline, especially after defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis left to become the Cincinnati Bengals’ head coach.

The Redskins set a franchise record for penalties this season, and players described a lax atmosphere in which tardiness was tolerated, cell phones rang during meetings, and on-field errors weren’t corrected at practice.

Spurrier was one of the most successful offensive coaches in college history, going 122-27-1 over 12 years in Florida with a high-powered pass-oriented attack that often produced lopsided scores. His Gators won the 1996 national championship.

He abruptly quit in January 2002 because he wanted to try his offense in the NFL. He brought several ex-Florida players to the Redskins in his first season - which he later admitted was a mistake. He went 7-9 while making five changes at starting quarterback.

Snyder provided Spurrier with plenty of offensive talent last offseason, signing receiver Laveranues Coles and upgrading the offensive line. But the season went downhill quickly, first in a series of close losses, then later in embarrassing blowouts.

The Redskins lost their last two home games by a combined 58-7.

If Spurrier pursues another NFL job, his new suitor would have to work out a deal with the Redskins, who hold Spurrier’s rights for the next three years.

Swanson said Spurrier will be paid some money to cover personal expenses over the next few months, but his compensation will not be “an amount anywhere near approaching his contract.”

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