The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Alliance of American Football knows a lot about Steve Spurrier, except that he coached the Redskins

Steve Spurrier really did coach the Redskins. (File photo)
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Washington fans might want to forget it, too, but Steve Spurrier really did coach the Redskins for two seasons. Someone might want to remind the Alliance of American Football.

The spring football league set to launch in 2019 announced Orlando as the location of its first team Sunday morning. And with the location, founder Charlie Ebersol announced the new head (ball) coach: Steve Spurrier.

It is hard to find many football characters more well-known than Spurrier. He won the Heisman Trophy at Florida in 1966. He was the No. 3 pick in the 1967 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. He was a heralded assistant coach at Florida, Georgia Tech and Duke, then a successful head coach in the first spring professional football league, the USFL, where he led the Tampa Bay Bandits.

Then, of course, he went back to college, first coaching at Duke and then moving on to Florida, earning a reputation as a reliable, if colorful, character on the sideline. The new league seems to remember all that.

What it doesn’t appear to remember, though, is when Daniel Snyder came calling in 2002. In Spurrier’s otherwise very thorough official bio on the Alliance’s website, the league completely neglects his NFL coaching history, all two years of it, which was spent in Washington.

Don’t worry, we remember, thanks to The Post’s Mark Maske and George Solomon:

The Washington Redskins made Steve Spurrier one of the highest-paid coaches in the National Football League by signing him to a five-year contract worth slightly less than $25 million. They also allowed him to recapture a part of his youth.
Spurrier, 56, said he grew up in Johnson City, Tenn., following the Redskins of the 1950s and early ’60s, rooting for players such as Eddie LeBaron and John Olszewski because the team’s games were broadcast to that part of the country. That, plus the lucrative opportunity to coach a team in the nation’s capital at 86,000-plus-seat FedEx Field made the decision to take the Redskins’ job easy.
“It was the opportunity to coach on the national scene for a team that plays in the largest stadium in the National Football League, that sells all those tickets and with all those fans,” Spurrier said yesterday by telephone from his home in Gainesville, Fla. “They’re the best fans in the NFL. It’s so loud there.”

Washington would wind up burning through three quarterbacks — who could forget Shane Matthews, Patrick Ramsey and Danny Wuerffel? — on the way to a 7-9 record in 2002 and a 5-11 mark in 2003.

Then Spurrier resigned, so Maske wrote another story:

Coach Steve Spurrier walked away from the Washington Redskins and the National Football League yesterday after two seasons in which he managed just 12 victories in 32 games and extended the team’s playoff drought despite being the league’s highest-paid coach. Spurrier said he left because he thought team owner Daniel Snyder could find someone else to do far better than he did.
“The whole thing wasn’t working,” Spurrier said in a telephone interview from Florida. “If we need a lot of new assistants, you might as well have a new head coach. This is the best thing for everyone concerned. I really believe that. They can start fresh with a new coaching staff, and I can start fresh with something else in my life. It’s best for everyone. It’s best for the Redskins, and best for me.”

All of that could be instructive to the Alliance, which went so far as to mention that Spurrier was an all-state honoree in football, basketball and baseball in high school in Johnson City, Tenn., but neglected to mention he coached in the NFL.

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