For the first time since his career with the Washington Redskins ended on sour terms in 2006, retired linebacker LaVar Arrington returned to team headquarters for what he described as a “surreal moment.”
At the Washington Redskins’ Charitable Foundation’s 4th and Life program, Arrington and former Redskins Gary Clark and Dexter Manley shared life and gridiron lessons with about 100 area high school football players Friday.
Arrington, who was drafted second overall by the Redskins, spent six seasons with Washington and made the Pro Bowl three times. But his relationship with the team soured over a dispute about a $6.5 million bonus that Arrington said was excluded from an eight-year, $68 million contract he signed in 2003. Arrington missed much of the 2004 season with an injury, and was reduced to a backup role in 2005. In 2006, he would have carried a $12 million salary cap figure, but agreed to give up some of the guaranteed money owed to him in order to reach an agreement on his release.
Early in his career, Arringtonwas close with Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, but the contract dispute caused their relationship to deteriorate. Arrington played one season with the Giants but then retired, and unlike other former players, he had stayed away from the team after his career ended.
But the fences began to be mended when Snyder appeared in February as a guest on the radio show that Arrington hosts with Chad Dukes on 106.7 The Fan. Snyder and Arrington acknowledged that there had been misunderstandings and said they wanted to put the past behind them.
Arrington said he still was somewhat surprised to receive an invitation to speak to the high school players at the 4th & Life Football Forum, calling it an honor.
“To be asked to come back and share, it’s an honor. It’s a very big honor,” said Arrington, who also writes a blog for The Washington Post.
Arrington was greeted warmly by Redskins employees he knew from his playing days and exchanged hugs with many of them. While speaking to the high school players, he discussed the financial comforts he had received from playing football and stopped, spread his arms, looked around the room and said, “Thank you Washington Redskins!”
“It’s kind of like a surreal moment,” Arrington said afterwards. “This is the first time I’ve been in this room since I left. That was 2006, so it’s a good feeling. A lot of memories. … What better way to come back and be here than in a moment of giving back and sharing with our little brothers. To me, it’s an elite fraternity when you’re a football player. I’m honored.”
On his improving relationship with the team, Arrington said, “I think the relations between me and some of the new officials have been good. Once you get far enough away from the hard feelings and different things that may have taken place and new people who may not have been attached to the situation, it allows people to move on and see it with a fresh set of eyes.”