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Redskins, Coles Just Could Not Reconcile

"I'm not totally innocent, I admit that. I was frustrated this whole year. But they didn't handle things much better. I think people's pride and manhood got in the way. Mr. Snyder was made to look like a liar because it looked like he was backing out of an agreement."

Coles said that he knew that things reached the point of no return two weeks ago after a phone conversation with Snyder, who, Coles said, threatened to make life miserable for him if the team was forced to bring him back. Coles said that Snyder was angry that the wideout had initially caused the trade with the Jets for Moss to collapse on Feb. 26 by demanding a contract extension.


Laveranues Coles (File Photo)


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"He said: 'If you come back here, you'll never play again,' " Coles recalled, adding that Snyder promised to send him a flat-screen TV on which to watch games. " 'We'll bench you for two years then we'll cut you.' He said: 'If you come back, we'll torture you.' "

"Once he was threatening me, I said to myself: 'Man, I know I have to leave.' I knew I couldn't come back because of the way they handled it."

Coles said that he was so disturbed by Snyder's remarks that he called later. "I said. 'Why would you threaten my career? I've done nothing wrong,' " Coles said. "And [Snyder] admitted that he was being emotional."

During an extensive telephone interview yesterday, Coles expressed ambivalence about how his departure occurred. Coles said that he was reluctant to criticize Gibbs -- "he's a legend," Coles said -- but felt compelled to speak the truth about an offense that took too long to open up.

And while Coles said that his former coach was too resistant to change in an outdated offense, the wideout believes that Gibbs's determination will eventually pay off.

"The best thing I can say about him is he's proven that he can win," Coles said. "And I know with his determination he's going to get that team turned around. He told us that whether it's this year, next year or the year after, he's going to have guys on his team that are going to want to win and fight for him. With his work ethic, he will eventually get that done. But I was just too miserable to stay aboard."

Coles added that despite his criticism of the organization, he wishes the Redskins well, especially former teammates.

The Redskins signed Coles as a restricted free agent in March 2003. Coles, 27, played his first season with Washington under coach Steve Spurrier, whose downfield passing game suited the 5-foot-11, 193-pound receiver.

Despite Coles's complaints about Gibbs's offense, he finished with the second-most passes thrown his way in the NFL last year, according to Stats Inc. The Redskins threw in Coles's direction 168 times -- two fewer than wideout Chad Johnson of the Cincinnati Bengals. However, most of the balls to Coles were intermediate passes, and Coles finished with only one touchdown -- on an option pass from Portis.

Coles said that he became more miserable each week of the season because there were few signs that the offense was being altered. "With the losing, it became depressing," Coles said. "It wore on me mentally."

Coles said that he grew most disenchanted late in the season when, he said, the coaching staff went out its way to help Portis try to reach 1,500 yards. (Portis would have become the first player in NFL history to reach the milestone in his first three seasons.) After Portis suffered an injury in Washington's next-to-last game, Coles said, Gibbs dismissed Coles's desire to finish with at least 1,000 receiving yards.

"When it was my turn, they threw me three balls in the first half," said Coles, who finished with a career-high 90 catches for 950 yards, but with a career-low 10.6 yards per catch. "I told him, 'Coach I don't feel like I'm one of your guys, so I need to go somewhere else.' "

What would Coles miss about Washington?

He paused: "The fans and some of my teammates. The past football season was the most miserable season I had as a football player. I should never feel the way I felt, and I never want to feel that way again."


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