Wilbur Young, the Redskins' hulking new defensive lineman, arrived at Redskin Park yesterday and said he hopes the trade that brought him east will revive his career and just maybe help remedy the Redskins' defensive problems.
"I'm really psyched up about it," said Young, who is 6 feet and 290 pounds. "It's been a while since I've been with an organization that really wants me. That's good for two or three extra sacks right there."
Young, 32, was obtained last week in a trade that sent Jeff Williams, 26, the Redskins' outstanding fourth-year offensive lineman, to San Diego. The Redskins had soured somewhat on Williams after he missed a voluntary minicamp in April and showed up at mandatory camp May 7-9 in poor condition, only to sprain his ankle the first day.
Defensive Line Coach Torgy Torgeson said Young will play right tackle to lend "a little more versatility," to the position. "I think he's more of a penetrating pass rusher than the others," Torgeson said of Young. "he has good speed for a big person and gets off the ball real well. He's going to give us great strength on the inside."
Torgeson said the trade stemmed from the team's critical need to buttress its defensive line. Whatever the reason, Young said, the move earns him a new chance at what has been an emotionally rocky career.
A native New Yorker who obtained a bachelor's degree in physical education at William Penn College, Young was drafted in the second round in 1971 by Hank Stram, then coach of the Kansas City Chiefs. His career began in Kansas City, he said, and ended there when Stram was fired.
He says now that he has always been a man who speaks his mind, and that has caused him problems with management. He says he was branded as a troublemaker in Kansas City and the reputation stuck in San Diego, where the Chiefs traded him in 1978.
He spoke bitterly yesterday of his three seasons with the Chargers.
"It was basically a degrading thing out there in San Diego," he said. "I could have helped them but they didn't want me to. They were saying they would rather lose without you than to win with you."
Young was cut by the Chargers in August 1978, only to be re-signed in September when all-pro tackle Louie Kelcher was sidelined by a preseason injury. In 1979, his teammates voted him the team's most valuable lineman. But last year, he played in only 12 games for the Chargers, registering two sacks, in a backup role to Gary (Big Hands) Johnson and Kelcher.
He also had some personal problems. After a 10-year bout with cancer, his mother died last year. His father and two older sisters remain in New York.
Young hopes all his problems are behind him; that he is ready for a renewal of his football career.He says he can play at least another five years and that he is happy to be reunited with new Redskin Coach Joe Gibbs, an assistant at San Diego last year. Gibbs, he said, believed in him as a player, one of the reasons the Redskins made the trade.
"Joe Gibbs was one of the nicer coaches out there," he said. "He came by and talked to me a lot. If I had played in crucial situations, I would have been happy for that. Joe knew that. He called me up Friday and told me he had traded for me.
"They said they want me to get some sacks. I love that. If I mess up, they'll yank me like everyone else. If I do well, they'll play me until I fall apart."