- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 8, 2003

I think there’s been a grave injustice done to our team by outside sources. After Sunday’s loss to the Eagles, a reporter apparently saw some players laughing and joking and giggling and not taking the loss seriously. I don’t know what locker room that person was in or when.

As one of the captains of the team, I always survey the locker room after the game. I want to see who needs to be picked up, who needs to be talked to, and really take in what’s going on. I didn’t see at all what was talked about in terms of laughing and joking.

After a game like that, you’re obviously extremely disappointed. And after you get through the disappointment for your team, you start thinking about the different plays you had where you could have done something better. Obviously, something we could have done better was not to have so many penalties — again. We’ve got to eliminate them. We all know that. I won’t bore everybody with stating the obvious.

After all those thoughts, you start to take your pads off and get cleaned up and get ready for the media. And at no point in that time would it enter your mind to crack a joke. If you win, everybody’s laughing and joking and having a good time. But after a loss like that, there’s nothing that could really make you laugh.

When we come into the locker room after a game, Coach Spurrier is always the first one to talk and tell us what’s on his mind. And when he breaks us, we always talk as a team. It’s a different guy all the time; sometimes it’s me, sometimes it’s Bruce, sometimes it’s whoever jumps in there and feels he has something to say.

After this particular game, it was Bruce. We talked about how we need to play better, how we need to win division games and how what’s done is done and we need to move on to a big game this week against Tampa Bay. Everybody was upset.

What if it was true that we were joking after the loss? I can’t even contemplate that. That’s a serious charge. And I’m sure that’s why so many readers immediately wondered what was going on, and it’s why I wanted to spend today’s column talking about it.

Losing is very personal to me. If there’s anything I hate most in this world, right now in my life it would be losing. And it doesn’t matter if someone might say, “Oh, you guys played well. Too bad you lost.” I know you can’t swear in the paper, but bull-you-know-what. A win is a win, a loss is a loss. If we’ve won nine games and lost five, there’s no third column that says we lost two games we should have won. Or another column that says you really shouldn’t have won this game but you did.

There are not many things in this world that are more personal to us than our job and how we do it. And one of the things about how we do it is how we react after a loss. I can’t imagine anyone would be cracking jokes or laughing, whether it’s in the front of the room or the back of the room. It doesn’t matter. It’s a sour moment, a terrible time.

All right, let’s shift gears and answer some questions. One reader wants to know whether I was aware that Joe Theismann took me to task on the radio recently, saying that, as a lineman, I should just worry about the clock and not all the other game elements I talked about in a recent column.

I did hear that. Here’s what I think: The media are not in the huddle. They’re not on the field. They’re not in the locker room. They’re not playing with us. Whether they’re former players — whatever. They’re not in there. They don’t know what’s going on. They don’t know the chemistry of our team.

Everybody is entitled to his own opinion. He has his opinion, and he can voice it any way he wants. If he has a problem with how I deal with things, he knows how to get in touch with me. And I hope he does.

Another reader asks, how do we get fired up in the locker room before a game?

Everybody has his own way. Some guys are quiet. Some guys like to talk to themselves, just in terms of getting their mind right. (I don’t mean they’re weird. They’re not hearing voices. That comes after a good hit.) But some guys are real laid-back, while others get real excited.

For me, I try to be as laid-back as possible because during the game I get really fired up. I get really excited. And if I get too excited early, I run out of steam. I run out of emotional energy at some point in the game. So I try to really hold it in until the gun’s fired.

One other person wants to know what the quarterback says to get the center to snap the ball.

There are a lot of different ways to put the ball in play. Sometimes the quarterback doesn’t say anything, and we go when the center snaps the ball. Sometimes it’s a “set-hut” that we go on. There are several different cadences we use during the game. We switch it up — and this is going to sound funny after all the recent false starts — to use the count to our advantage.

Thanks again for the e-mails at [email protected] See you next week.

Staff writer Jody Foldesy collaborates with Redskins tackle Jon Jansen on this column. It appears every Wednesday.

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