The Washington Redskins plan to be playing at FedEx Field on Sunday.
The Redskins have completed their 27-year, approximately $205 million stadium-naming-rights agreement with Federal Express and intend to announce the deal Sunday, sources close to the situation said yesterday. The name change from Redskins Stadium to FedEx Field will take effect for Sunday's game against the New York Giants, sources said.
The two sides reached a tentative agreement weeks ago, but had been working out the final details and trying to decide how to announce the deal. The Redskins and Federal Express plan to hold a joint news conference before Sunday's game, according to sources.
The original plan had been for the name change to take effect next season, with the company's name and logo visible at the stadium in some form for the remainder of this season. Moving up the timing of the name change was a recent development in the negotiations, sources said yesterday.
Fullback Larry Centers acknowledged yesterday that many of the Redskins players are a bit shaken in the aftermath of defeats to the Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles that dropped the club's record to 5-4.
"Coming off two losses, our confidence is pretty fragile," Centers said. "If you look at a team like Minnesota, their record [6-4] isn't much better than ours but they feel good about themselves right now because they've been winning lately. We're where we need to be. We need everyone to realize that. It's the responsibility of the coaching staff and the veteran players to let everyone know we're in this thing, to toot that horn. We can't wait until after the season and think about what we could have done."
Veteran wide receiver Irving Fryar said some of his younger teammates have been properly humbled after perhaps becoming overconfident during the Redskins' four-game winning streak in September and October.
"One of the things we had to worry about was whether we were handling success very well," Fryar said. "Our confidence level might have been too high. Any time you have a little bit of adversity, it can be good for you. . . . I've never been through a season where you didn't have problems, where you didn't have ups and downs. That's what builds character. That's what builds teams, and makes great teams.
"We do have a lot more ability than a 5-4 team. The people around us have an attitude like we're 1-8. We realize we let two games slip away. I'm never going to get over losing at Philadelphia. But our destiny is in our hands. We can take it from here and make the best of it, or we can take it from here and make a mess of it."
Clearing the Air
Coach Norv Turner said yesterday that he had spoken to return specialist Brian Mitchell about the veteran's criticism of the manner in which Turner announced that James Thrash would be sharing kickoff-return duties. Mitchell made his criticism public earlier this week on his WTEM radio show.
Mitchell called it "a slap in the face" to hear of the decision second-hand after Turner's weekly news conference on Monday and not be told of the decision personally.
"Brian and I have talked," Turner said. "I think sometimes by word-of-mouth something that's said gets transferred and moved along and it gets interpreted a little differently. I don't think there's an issue."
Still, Turner did not back away from his decision, saying the team's coaches will spend the remainder of this week sorting out how the kickoff-return duties will be divided Sunday.
Thrash said: "Every chance I get, I need to take advantage of it. I'm excited about the opportunity." . . .
Fullback Larry Bowie, who broke his leg during the preseason, practiced yesterday. Running back Stephen Davis did not practice because of a bruised thigh, but is scheduled to be in the starting lineup Sunday. Tight end Stephen Alexander had his practice cut short by a mild hip flexor. Defensive end Ndukwe Kalu participated in practice and may play Sunday after being sidelined by a broken foot.