- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 27, 2009

Redskins alumni controversy is nothing new

Last year, former Washington Redskins running back Brian Mitchell ripped current Redskins running back Clinton Portis, sparking verbal fireworks more suited to cage fighters. Another ex-Redskins runner, John Riggins, recently called Portis “a headache.”

Legendary Redskins quarterback Sonny Jurgensen was a bit more restrained last week. But he still told coach Jim Zorn, whom he was interviewing on the radio, that a play he sent in against St. Louis was so awful he would have refused to run it if he were playing. That made some news. If Sonny criticized, say, Steve Spurrier, to his face, I don’t recall it. It’s not as if he didn’t have ample opportunity.

Like an intergenerational tiff at the Thanksgiving table, this is all so unseemly. The Redskins’ extended family is supposed to get along. What’s next? Does Sammy Baugh’s ghost proclaim that Jason Campbell couldn’t carry his leather helmet?

But old guys dissing the new guys is nothing new, nor is it confined to the Redskins. In Dallas last week, ex-running back Tony Dorsett blasted the Cowboys’ starting quarterback. “I don’t know why on God’s earth Tony Romo has been anointed a superstar,” Dorsett seethed. (Question: Anointed by whom?)

This is different from when those still in uniform chastise their teammates. Taking your colleagues to task sometimes is necessary, although it doesn’t always work. After the Redskins dropped their third straight game a few years ago, linebacker LaVar Arrington called out some teammates for not taking losing seriously. Duly reprimanded, the Redskins went out and lost a fourth straight en route to a 5-11 season.

But for old-timers to rag on today’s whippersnappers (as a second-year head coach, Zorn qualifies), what’s the point? Kids don’t listen to their elders, anyway, and it’s easy to dismiss such critics simply as frustrated alumni. Even though the Redskins have quite a few these days.


“I’m talking about guys from Chicago, Detroit. I’m talking about the ‘hood, right? I’ve got guys from Grainger County, where they wear the hood.”

— Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl speaking to boosters about the diversity of his team; Pearl later apologized for the remark

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