- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 17, 2009

Bubba Tyer came out of a one-year retirement when Joe Gibbs returned to the Washington Redskins in 2004. On Friday, Tyer followed Gibbs into a second and final retirement from the franchise that has employed him for 37 of the past 38 seasons, 25 of them as head athletic trainer.

“It’s time,” said Tyer, who will turn 67 in July. “I had always said I was going to quit in my early 60s, and then Joe came back. Very few people get to stay with one organization for 38 years. I had a lot of great moments. And I’ll miss being here, but the staff is in great shape without me.”

Tyer’s 1971 arrival in Washington coincided with the team becoming a regular playoff participant. After not reaching the postseason the previous 25 years, Washington made the playoffs in 13 of Tyer’s first 22 seasons, winning five NFC championships and three Super Bowls.

“Bubba is one of the most respected people I have been around,” said offensive line coach Joe Bugel, the team’s last link to its glory days under Gibbs. “He did his job with passion and had great loyalty to the organization. He is a friend that I will have forever. He is more than a friend - he was like a brother. He is one guy who is always there for you.”

It only seemed like Tyer had always been there. The former president of the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society taped the ankles of seven Hall of Famers during his 602 regular-season games with the Redskins: Darrell Green, Ken Houston, Deacon Jones, Sonny Jurgensen, Art Monk, John Riggins and Charley Taylor. Bruce Smith, Russ Grimm, Champ Bailey and others may join them in Canton some day.

“It is incredible to see the impact Bubba has had on the Washington Redskins and in the National Football League,” coach Jim Zorn said in a statement. “The thing I discovered about him is how deeply he cares about this organization, and his passion for the profession. He had a great presence and a tremendous intelligence in the arena of athletic training.”

Tyer was always a presence, whether it was engaging in training camp hijinks with Grimm and Jeff Bostic, helping Raleigh McKenzie and Don Warren fight through pain or just making sure the archrival Dallas Cowboys knew he was on the sideline. A native Texan, Tyer came to hate the Cowboys with a passion.

Asked if the 1972 and 1982 NFC championship game victories against Dallas meant as much as winning three Super Bowl rings, Tyer said, “It’s real close.”

Tyer moved to the front office in 2002 before retiring for the first time. In 2003, he was inducted into the Ring of Fame at FedEx Field.

“The year I was away, [Redskins owner Dan Snyder] gave me great seats right under his box, but I started hollering and cursing like I used to on the sideline, and I decided I couldn’t stay there,” Tyer recalled with a chuckle. “I’m going to talk to Dan about getting seats right behind the bench so I can holler and curse.”

Tyer also said he will make the trip to Texas this fall to see the Cowboys’ new stadium.

“We’d be in the middle of a war with Dallas and I’d hear this voice above all the others screaming, ‘Goooooooo Redskins’ - and it would be Bubba,” Gibbs said, laughing. “Bubba fought with us every day. He’s a Redskin through and through.”

Gibbs said he will never forget Tyer helping get Gary Clark onto the field Sunday after Sunday even though the receiver had been in too much pain to practice all week. Clark and current Redskins London Fletcher, Andre Carter and Fred Smoot are among the 40 or so “tough guys” whose locker nameplates Tyer collected in the training room as inspiration to the injured.

From now on, they’ll be on display at Tyer’s Northern Virginia home.

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