- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 22, 2003

LaVar Arrington sat in the driver’s seat of his sports car yesterday afternoon, window rolled down and engine running, and informed a group of reporters assembled outside that he had time for one question.

Ten minutes and one emotional rant later, the Washington Redskins’ Pro Bowl linebacker drove away.

In a wide-ranging diatribe that was passionate at times and rambling at others, Arrington cut loose after two days of silence following Sunday’s 24-7 loss to Buffalo. He criticized teammates for not taking their three-game losing streak seriously enough. He refuted claims that he and his fellow linebackers are playing undisciplined football.

And when it was all said and done, he insisted the Redskins are fine and will rebound from their current state of disarray.

“We’ll be all right. We’re fine. We’re going to be OK,” said Arrington, who has come under fire himself in recent weeks. “We’re 3-4. We can easily put ourselves right back where we need to be by going into Dallas (on Nov.2) and playing like we know we can play.”

Those sentiments represented the brief, rosy-outlook portion of Arrington’s soliloquy. The bulk of his message did not carry near as positive a tone.

Arrington was particularly miffed at teammates he said he saw “laughing and joking” following Sunday’s loss. Arrington didn’t name the offending players, but he said he confronted them on the team bus and told them he would not tolerate their actions.

“I never point a finger at anybody,” he said. “But if I’m playing my heart out and guys are laughing and joking and we just lost? You do the math. I’m ready — let’s run the game back. I’m not laughing and joking about that. I’m not laughing and joking about life after I lose a game.

“I feel like there should be a time after a game where you really sit back and reflect on what happened out there on that field. And I don’t know how you can sit and joke and laugh and play and have a good time if you’re thinking about what happened during a loss.”

No other Redskins players have spoken publicly about teammates’ postgame actions, but several pointed out that each player deals with adversity in his own way.

“I don’t think people take it lightly,” said cornerback Champ Bailey, who was not on Arrington’s bus. “Everybody has a different way of dealing with things. Everybody’s not just going to sit around and mope. It’s all about personality. You’ve got to know your players. If you know your teammates, you’ll know when a guy’s upset about something.”

Arrington’s comments came three days after coach Steve Spurrier questioned the effort of his players during the Buffalo loss. Spurrier has backed off somewhat this week, saying he got caught up in the heat of the moment.

Arrington, though, made similar claims during a Monday radio appearance and yesterday added to the controversy with his public criticisms. He did insist that his own play has not lacked effort.

“Does it look like I’m not playing my heart out?” Arrington said. “I’ve assessed and evaluated myself, and that’s what you’re supposed to do. I’m playing as hard as I can possibly play.”

Some are wondering if Arrington is actually playing too hard. Questions have been raised about the tendency of Washington’s linebackers to take too many chances on defense, undisciplined play that has resulted in missed assignments and blown coverages.

Arrington, however, said he is just doing what he’s been taught.

“That’s not anything that doesn’t happen to any other group of linebackers in the NFL,” he said. “All this stuff being made about not being disciplined, it’s not true. We’re out there trying to make plays, but we’re not playing out of character, out of discipline. There’s just little things we need to tie up.”

Other defensive players don’t entirely share Arrington’s sentiments on this subject.

“We don’t do things right,” Bailey said. “We fight hard, but we’re not in the right places, we’re not using the right techniques. That’s not going to get us anywhere.”

Despite his widespread criticism of teammates and the sense of impending doom currently surrounding the Redskins, Arrington actually stood up for the organization during yesterday’s monologue. He insisted he is going to do whatever he can to hold his team together during this troublesome bye week.

“I guarantee I’m going to stand beside every person that’s in that building,” Arrington said. “Because you know what? That’s the only way this team is going to go anywhere. That’s the only way this team is going to do anything. That’s the only way this team is going to heal itself from feeling the way we feel after we lose games. …

“That’s why I think this is a good bye week. Get all of this out of the way, all this mess that people are going to try and write and say that we’re involved in, guys don’t like one another or whatever. Get all of this out of the way now. We’ve got a game to go and win next week. That’s the bottom line.”

With that, Arrington turned his head back into his car. He put his foot on the brake pedal, shifted into drive and offered one last line before speeding off.

“All right,” he said, “I’m going home.”

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