By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 6, 2006
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., Oct. 5 -- As reporters gathered around LaVar Arrington's locker on Thursday, fellow New York Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce walked past and surveyed the scene. "Don't say it, LaVar!" Pierce called out. "Don't say it!"
Pierce, who played with Arrington in Washington, knows emotions are running high for Arrington this week as his new team readies to face the Redskins on Sunday at Giants Stadium. It will be Arrington's first meeting with his former club since he bought his way out of the remainder of his contract with the Redskins following two unhappy seasons under Coach Joe Gibbs and defensive boss Gregg Williams.
Arrington did his best Thursday to follow Pierce's advice. He said repeatedly that he had no interest in getting into a "war of words" with the Redskins, even after being criticized Wednesday by linebackers coach Dale Lindsey and cornerback Shawn Springs. He acknowledged he was revved up for Sunday's game but said that's mostly because the Giants are 1-2 and desperately need a win, and he thinks fans in New York are questioning the organization's offseason decision to sign him as a free agent.
But in between his attempts to stay above the fray, Arrington got in his digs -- at Lindsey, at Springs, at Gibbs, at the Redskins in general. He said he even gave a copy of the Redskins' playbook to Giants Coach Tom Coughlin.
"I told him the little bit that I know about the Washington Redskins," Arrington said, a reference to Lindsey's comment Wednesday that Arrington couldn't help the Giants prepare for the Redskins because he didn't know anything when he was with the Redskins. "It was like a two-minute conversation. But what I did know [is], I do have your playbook. So if I don't understand it, I'm sure Coach Coughlin can decipher it."
Arrington, asked if he was serious and really had a copy of the playbook, said, "Sure, I do." It was pointed out that a player is supposed to turn in his playbook when he leaves a team, and Arrington said: "Well, I'm gone now. [It's] Arrington property now. Or New York Giant property now. And I understand some things."
Lindsey said Thursday there's a process by which players have to check in and check out their playbooks and all should be accounted for before a player leaves. He did not rule out the possibility that Arrington had one or had made a copy, but said, "If he has got one, I guarantee you it's never been opened."
Arrington did not directly address Lindsey's criticisms, but said: "It's one of those things where when people show themselves, then people see what it is for what it is. I don't even have to try and defend myself on comments and remarks like that. I'm here. I'm happy. And like I said, it's important that this team gets back to winning."
Springs also said Wednesday that Arrington didn't seem to know the Redskins' defense.
"Shawn Springs, all he really did for himself is show himself to the Redskins fans like, that's stupid," Arrington said. "That's stupid to even make a comment like that, to be honest. So he showed himself and he's got to deal with that, not me."
Of Springs, who's been sidelined by a groin injury, Arrington added later: "You get some guys, they feel like they know a whole lot of things. Maybe he's one of those guys that feels like he knows a whole lot. I don't know. It's interesting to me. I don't know that he's even playing, so why would you make a snide remark and you're not even having anything to do with the outcome of the game? . . . You have a coach throw a statement out there. You get a company guy to sit there and co-sign it, and what do you get? People believe it."
Gibbs was complimentary of Arrington on Wednesday and said he regretted that the relationship between the team and the linebacker had deteriorated. Arrington said he wasn't buying Gibbs's compliments.
"I don't," Arrington said. "Whatever. It doesn't matter. I don't care. I could care less. He's extremely complimentary, and he's got another coach sitting there saying I didn't know what I was doing. Hello? You do the math. You do the math. Show yourself enough, and people will see it. That's the bottom line. But I really could care less. That's not my coach. Now, if Coach Coughlin feels a certain way, then that's something that me and Coach Coughlin have got to address. But that's not the case here. If [Giants defensive coordinator Tim] Lewis feels a certain way, that's something me and Coach Lewis have to address. I don't have to address those people. They're nothing to me except our opponent for this week."
Arrington said that if Gibbs truly had wanted things to work out, he would still be with the Redskins.
"He's Joe Gibbs, man," Arrington said. "If he wanted something to be different, it would have been different. Am I lying? Is that an accurate statement? He's a part of the trinity, some people would say. . . . But there's no need looking back on that. It is what it is. I could care less. Joe Gibbs could call me the worst person in the world or he could call me the best person in the world. It doesn't matter. Who is he? He's just the coach of another team that we're playing."
Arrington said he spent his first four seasons with the Redskins "battling my tail off for that team," then had two seasons under Gibbs and Williams in which he grew increasingly accustomed to the idea of leaving the club. Asked if he would have done anything differently if given another chance, Arrington said: "No. Get the hell out. I'm sorry it took two years to get out."
Staff writer Jason La Canfora contributed to this report from Ashburn.