Following a meeting at Redskin Park yesterday with running back Clarence Harmon, Washington Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs said he was "very disturbed and upset" by Harmon's arrest last week on a charge of cocaine possession in Texarkana, Tex.
"I take great pride in the kind of players and people we have on our team," Gibbs said. "I know we have great people. Our players are actively involved in the community and they do such great things. Something like this hurts everyone, it reflects on everyone. It certainly hurts Clarence. To have a stigma put on his career and his future would be a shame."
The coach of the Super Bowl champions said he had a "dreaded fear" of having "something like this happen. Our team has been incident free and that's been a pleasure . . . What I think is that this is a reflection on the whole team. But it doesn't scare me, because I know our players. This is just something that happened and we'll work our way through with Clarence, that's all."
Gibbs was on a ski vacation last week when Harmon was arrested. The two had not talked until yesterday. Harmon declined an interview request, on advice from his attorneys.
When he was arrested, Harmon was in Texarkana visiting former Redskin teammate Ike Forte. The two men were arrested during a night-long sweep by police, who were serving warrants issued at the end of a 12-month undercover drug investigation. Police said Harmon and Forte were not part of that investigation, but were in an apartment occupied by a man named in a warrant.
Speaking through his attorneys, Harmon has denied statements by police that he was using cocaine when arrested. Gibbs said Harmon told him yesterday, "It was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He said he wasn't doing anything wrong.
"Until we get all the facts, there is not much we can do," said Gibbs, who said the National Football League was investigating the charges. "I told him that we'll be here and if he had any problems to come and see me and talk to me. It's really a waiting game now. We want to know what all is involved, and that's what we really don't know."
Asked if Harmon had a drug problem, Gibbs said: " . . . That is one thing we might have to confront. It will mostly be me and Clarence walking our way through it."
Gibbs said that Harmon will partake in all regular team activities "until there is reason to change that. We aren't prejudging anything.
"I just believe that this team doesn't have a drug problem . . . We've had a certain amount of success and we have a certain number of younger people and they probably are exposed (to more pressure to use drugs) than the average person is, that's for sure. So you have to be more careful, you have to be more aware of it."