A Truly Sorry Situation

Many who wrote off quarterback Mark Brunell (8), enjoying a moment here with Patrick Ramsey and Chris Cooley, have been left embarrassed.
Many who wrote off quarterback Mark Brunell (8), enjoying a moment here with Patrick Ramsey and Chris Cooley, have been left embarrassed. (By Jonathan Newton -- The Washington Post)

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By Mike Wise
Monday, October 24, 2005

A year ago, Mark Brunell's teenage daughter was watching a game from the family's box seats at FedEx Field when she heard a chant rise up: "WE WANT RAM-SEY! WE WANT RAM-SEY!"

"Our younger kids didn't understand, but she knew they wanted the other guy to take Dad out," Brunell said. "She got emotional and cried, and that ended up becoming a tough time for everyone."

Brunell's children never got the business from the cruel kids in homeroom, mainly because he and his wife home-school. But they knew, just as all kids know.

"Looking back, it turned out to be a lesson we could learn from," he said. "We learned how a situation like that affects all of us."

A year later, we all look as fickle and insensitive as we do wrong. With the exception of the Gibbs and Brunell clans, all together now. (You, too, Danny): Sorry, Mark, for wanting to put a fork in you.

Like every unoriginal soul who said the game has passed your coach by, we bought into the Brunell-Should-Retire group-think. We're embarrassed we ever chastised the franchise for not going out and signing other inferior veteran quarterbacks such as Kurt Warner or Jeff Garcia.

Sure, we had our reasons. After nine games and six interceptions a year ago, we thought you were headed for the announcer's booth. Or, worse, an RV show in Jacksonville, where you would sign autographs and be forced to mingle with slovenly Jaguar fans in exchange for a discounted Winnebago.

We surely never saw this coming -- long-arcing bombs falling into Santana Moss's hands, theatrical comeback wins, nearly 1,500 yards and 12 touchdowns through six games.

After throwing for three touchdowns, 252 yards and no interceptions -- after amassing a near-perfect passer rating of 147.9 in that 52-17 pulverization of the pitiful 49ers yesterday -- you have convinced us of our error.

We give. Uncle.

"It's just one of those stories that played out," said Coach Joe Gibbs, whose team moved to 4-2 a year after beginning 2-4. Gibbs added that neither he nor Brunell sought mea culpas from the more than 90,000 who 11 months ago begged the coach to bench Brunell, the gimpy veteran who rolled left, ploddingly, on an injured hamstring.

Gibbs may never admit it, but in his gut he knew Brunell had to be injured last season, if for no other reason than Brunell simply could not be that bad.


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© 2005 The Washington Post Company

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