Washington Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder met with his newest employees for the first time yesterday and spoke bluntly about his expectations of dedication and winning. Afterward, Snyder offered an equally blunt assessment of the players as they finished an eight-day minicamp at Redskin Park, their final practices before training camp begins July 25.
"They were fast, young, aggressive and ready," Snyder said in an interview. "And then, there are some players that are overweight and probably a few that don't really want to play. It shows."
Meanwhile, Coach Norv Turner said he may limit starting quarterback Brad Johnson's work in training camp if he has not fully recovered from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee May 4. Johnson and a Redskins trainer will travel to Minnesota on Tuesday for a follow-up appointment with Johnson's surgeon, David Fischer, who will recommend how much activity is prudent.
But yesterday, all eyes were on Snyder, who arrived in time to watch the final hour of practice. Afterward, he met privately with players and coaches, addressed the administrative staff, spoke at length with veteran cornerback Darrell Green and touched on his vision for the team and Jack Kent Cooke Stadium, for which he and partners Mort Zuckerman and Fred Drasner will pay a record $800 million.
Among the highlights:
Snyder explained his expectations for the 1999 season as follows: "We are going to make the playoffs, number one. We'll make the playoffs. And we then expect to win further. It's that simple."
He plans to acquire land near Jack Kent Cooke Stadium and construct additional parking spaces, though he's not sure that can be accomplished by the home opener Sept. 14.
He said out-of-shape or indifferent players "don't have to play on this team. They can play somewhere else, if they want."
At positions where the Redskins still have needs, Snyder vowed to bring in players who can make a difference -- possibly by the start of training camp. Free agent left tackle Andy Heck, at Redskin Park for a second day of talks, may be among them. Team officials also have talked with former Dallas Cowboys defensive end Charles Haley about joining the squad, likely as a third-down pass rusher.
From coaches to players, Snyder's tough talk was warmly received.
"He's pretty straight and to the point," said guard Rod Milstead. "He expects us to win. Six and 10 is not fun. With that attitude starting from the top, it's going to be awesome."
Prior to Snyder's arrival, team officials removed a banner that had hung for years in the hallway leading to the locker room and had displayed a quote attributed to the late owner Jack Kent Cooke, "You Can Do Better Than Your Supposed Best."
Snyder arrived shortly before noon and went directly to the practice field, where five chairs had been set near the sideline at midfield. General Manager Charley Casserly sat beside Snyder, and reporters were kept out of earshot.
Apart from periodic interruptions by a ringing cellular phone, Snyder was attentive as the team went through drills.
The 34-year-old Snyder, a lifelong Redskins fan, showed no trace of awe as he addressed the players behind closed doors. He began with some background about himself and the values that had made him a multimillionaire in the communications industry.
According to defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield: "He said, `I expect nothing but the best -- 100 percent -- when you walk through the doors. I expect the best when you walk on the field. I expect the best when you're playing.' There was a mood of like, `Whoa!', because I don't think people expected him to put it like that. I think they expected him to say, `Hi. I'm Mr. Snyder.' "
Snyder said in the interview that he is developing a comprehensive marketing plan for the team that includes prospects for selling stadium naming rights and a plan for selling remaining club seats this year.
"The fans needs to know we are aggressively working on improving every aspect of the experience," Snyder said. "It goes to pay phones, ATMs, to people smiling -- to every aspect of making sure we do what's in the best interests of the Washington Redskins."
While Snyder's purchase of the team and stadium from Jack Kent Cooke's estate won the unanimous endorsement of NFL owners on May 25, the deal isn't expected to close for another two weeks. Yesterday, it was approved by Virginia Attorney General Mark Earley and Fauquier County Circuit Judge William Shore Robertson.
As for Johnson, whom the Redskins acquired in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings in February, Turner said he expected the quarterback to be ready by the start of training camp. But if necessary, Turner said he will withhold Johnson from certain drills. "I don't see him ever sitting out of practice," Turner said. "But we may limit some of the individual work. We may limit certain drills. Obviously we're going to make sure he's included in all the teamwork type stuff."
With Johnson on crutches since May, trainer Bubba Tyer said it's too soon to tell whether Johnson's work in camp will be limited. The knee looks good, according to Tyer, because the swelling is gone and the joint has good range of motion. Fischer, the surgeon, will decide the next step.
"He'll tell us what he thinks he can do or what he thinks he should maybe stay away from," Tyer said. "We have a good idea. It's just that we're covering all bases with Brad."
Heck, 32, a Fairfax native and 10-year NFL veteran, also will visit the San Francisco 49ers and is talking to the Miami Dolphins.
Casserly confirmed that the Redskins have inquired about Haley's interest in playing for the team. Haley, 35, has a history of back trouble and has yet to be brought in for a workout.
CAPTION: Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, right, talks with Coach Norv Turner during visit with new team.