From 1964 to 1985, the Washington Redskins employed three quarterbacks who took just about every snap: Sonny Jurgensen, Billy Kilmer and Joe Theismann. But since that awful Monday night in 1985 when Theismann broke his leg in a game against the Giants, ending his career, the Redskins have used more than 20 quarterbacks.
"That's a lot," said Jurgensen the other day in an understatement. "It's obvious through those years there hasn't been much stability in the organization. Every time you bring in a new coach, he likes his own guy at quarterback."
The list of Redskins quarterbacks since Theismann includes Jay Schroeder, Doug Williams, Mark Rypien, Stan Humphries, Rich Gannon, Cary Conklin, Heath Shuler, John Friesz, Gus Frerotte, Jeff Hostetler, Trent Green, Brad Johnson, Rodney Peete, Jeff George, Tony Banks, Kent Graham, Shane Matthews, Patrick Ramsey, Danny Wuerffel, Tim Hasselbeck and Rob Johnson. Is there anyone who has ever sat between Sonny and George Michael on Monday night that I might have missed?
"Brad Johnson should still be the quarterback in Washington,'' said former Redskins GM Charley Casserly, who signed many of these players and left in 1999 when the team was sold to Daniel Snyder. Now running the Houston Texans, Casserly said he could have signed Green before he opted for free agency but was stopped by the trustees of the Cooke estate who ran the team briefly before selling first to the Milstein Boys (not so fast, guys) and then to Snyder. "Green has done extremely well in St. Louis and Kansas City and Johnson [signed after Green fled] won a Super Bowl for Tampa Bay," Casserly observed. Johnson skipped town after the 2000 season because he thought Snyder preferred George.
Skipping over the one-year stand with Marty (When was that? Did I take a pill to forget it?) and Steve Spurrier's two-year, five quarterback "coach 'em up" Gators reunion, we return today to FedEx Field where we find Joe Gibbs back in charge (am I on top of the news, or what?). Gibbs, who won Super Bowls with Theismann, Williams and Rypien, is back after 11 years for a second tour. And he brings with him his own quarterback, Mark Brunell. At 33, he might not be the same player he was during most of a good 10-year run in Jacksonville, but he can win here.
Jurgensen, who with the venerable Texan Sammy Baugh is the only Redskins quarterback enshrined in Canton, believes Brunell will do well. "He's smart, he's been there before and knows the game," Jurgensen said. "This is a great place for him. . . . Brunell will make very good decisions."
Brunell easily beat out third-year pro Ramsey, who was so bad this summer he needs to improve to remain the backup ahead of Hasselbeck, or even the 70-something guy in the booth, who remains my favorite.
My sources who have been keeping me on the cutting edge of the baseball loop for the past 33 years regarding the game's return to Washington tell me some announcement from MLB commissioner Bud Selig's office will come in the next "week or two" that will set in motion a resolution on the fate of the homeless Montreal Expos.
With that in mind, and despite protests from the three sons sick of reading about this riveting issue, here are some scenarios that could unfold shortly:
* Selig announces that the relocation committee recommends that the Expos be moved to Washington and play in RFK Stadium in 2005. An ownership group will then be chosen from D.C. or Northern Virginia.
* A D.C. group that had been headed by veteran big shot Fred Malek and is now headed by younger, richer big shot Jeffrey Zients will get first shot at spending more than $200 million for this 59-82 cast of spunky fellows. And, please tell me, how and when did Jeffrey Zients come into my life?
* A Virginia ownership group headed by Bill Collins also will bid, but the prospect of a team playing near Dulles Airport grows less appealing with each day's rush-hour traffic reports.
* A big-shot mystery owner from out of town will outbid our big shots and wind up with the team here.
* MLB, bowing to threats from monopolistic, litigious Orioles owner Peter Angelos, will keep the team in Montreal another season, resulting in another year of unreadable whining and pouting in this space.
Hockey Lights Flicker
On the sly, using Feinstein's latest book to cover most of my face, I took to watching some of the World Cup of Hockey tournament the past two weeks, even though no one has any idea where the games are played. But how great was it to see 38-year-old Team Canada vet and Penguins owner Mario Lemieux go after former Cap Steve Konowalchuk of the United States? Lemieux wins the Don Zimmer award for 2004, hands-down.
This might be the last time we see hockey for a long time, if the NHL owners don't get a new labor agreement with the players by Wednesday and impose a lockout. The owners want a salary cap and the players don't. With many owners claiming huge losses, mainly because NHL television revenues don't measure up to the NFL, MLB and NBA, the owners say they need to curb spending. The players appear to be somewhat sympathetic, but not enough to suit most owners.
A lockout and delay of training camp and season will hurt more than the principals know. "The Caps will lose less money by not playing than by playing," said Caps owner Ted Leonsis recently, adding his ownership group has lost more than $100 million in the five years since buying the team, even after slashing its payroll late last season.
Caps TV voice Joe Beninati said it best: "The backlash will be brutal. It will be difficult for fans to understand how players averaging $1.8 million a year a man can't compromise. Or the owners, who created this situation themselves by throwing around money on salaries the game cannot support. This is not good."
Beninati does not get paid if there are no games, as is the case with many people associated with the NHL. He also knows the last time the NHL had a work stoppage 10 years ago, the league and Capitals lost fans they never regained.
Read that former Hog and current Steelers' assistant head coach Russ Grimm has one son playing ball at Virginia Tech and a budding star at Oakton (Va.) High School. It seems like yesterday that Grimm was a rookie guard out of Pitt. What happened?
* WUSA-TV did a great job covering the under-appreciated U.S. Open the past two weeks. The sport needs a retreat to find out where it went wrong, and how to regain popularity.
* The Yankees complaining about the Tampa Bay Devil Rays not showing for their Monday doubleheader when a hurricane was tearing through Florida demeans a great franchise.
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