Throughout his 17 years in professional football, Ron McDole has made it a point never to talk seriously about playing defensive end. He is a man of anecdotes and one-liners.
"It's easier to laugh at certain things than to sit back and wonder why," McDole said yesterday. "I treat football as a game, although I know it's a business . . . I still enjoy playing the game.
It's tough at 38 to play a kid's game. The kids are big."
But McDole still is playing tough. Last year he led Redskin lineman in assisted tackles, as he has every year, since he arrived here in 1971, and was second behind Diron Talbert in sacks. He still is going strong, as the 283-pound Dierdorf could attest following the 24-14 victory over the Cardinals on Sunday.
Dierdorf talked not about McDole's fourth-quarter interception, but about the way he defends against the run.
"I could wear quarterback shoulder pads (they are less protective because I'm never able to get a good lick at him," siad Dierdorf, who lined up opposite McDole.
That is McDole's biggest asset. He is rarely caught flat-footed and his quick reflexes help overcome his lack of speed. Another reason for McDole's success is coach George Allen's philosophy about the responsibility of the end.
"George always lets us flow to the ball," McDole said. "Some ends have to look for reverses. On this team, the linebackers do that.
"You have to take the best pursuit angle, which is down the line (of scrimmage)," McDole explained." "When you don't have blazing speed, you have to take advantage of the best pursuit angle. I'm certainly not going to be able to circle around and catch somebody from behind."
The style of defensive line play today is hardly what is was when he came into the pros from the University of Nebraska.
"It was more pushing," McDole said. "The agile linemen weren't there as they are today. Now they're a lot more mobile, a lot lighter and a lot quicker. They're fattening up guys who would have played linebacker back then, guys like Jim Marshall, Jack Youngblood and Henry Dryer."
McDole's weight has variedrom its current 265. He played at as much as 300 pounds with the Buffalo Bills and as little as 236 with the Houston Oilers. As a relative lightweight, he found "what you could do just with your size, you couldn't do anymore."
In an era of publicized violence in the NFL, McDole is proud of two personal accomplishments: he has never been charged with a roughing foul and he has never been in a fight.
How much longer McDole plays for the Redskins is up to Allen, he said.
"I enjoy doing what I'm doing," McDole said. "George has some good young guys, Karl Lorch and Dallas Hickman. I've told George as long as he felt I could contribute and help the bail club, I would play. We'll sit down after the season and I'll say, George what do you think?"
As one of the team's elder statesmen - he is five days younger than team quarterback Billy Kilmer - McDole sees the Redskins as a diversified group that gets along.
"You have all sizes all colors: great athletes, not-so-great atheletes, some very smart, some not so smart," McDole said. "But they've all been to college, they're supposed to know what's going on.
"The closest thing that separates anybody is age. I don't do the same things Dallas Hickman does for instance. The young guys stick together, they face the same problems.
"The one thing we do well is also football with 45 people on the field, I don't hate anybody, but there are people I don't hand around with. But, on Sunday, they're your best friends.
"Our team cannot survive if we don't play together. We can't go out and make people fall over. We have to play together, that's been our reason for success here."
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