WP: At Redskins Park, It Seems Like Old Times

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WP: At Redskins Park, It Seems Like Old Times

Postby 1niksder » Sat Jul 31, 2004 11:28 pm

At Redskins Park, It Seems Like Old Times

By Thomas Boswell
Sunday, August 1, 2004; Page E01

In the midst of the first practice of Redskins training camp on Saturday, Mark Brunell turned to fellow quarterback Patrick Ramsey and started laughing as they watched coaches Joe Gibbs, Joe Bugel, Don Breaux and Rennie Simmons, average age 63.

"Those guys have forgotten more football than most coaches will ever know," Brunell told Ramsey.

The quartet of NFL oldsters coaxed, yelled, clapped, simulated defensive formations, backpedaled, demonstrated techniques and generally acted like teenagers at play. "Spry" wouldn't do them justice. If the four men haven't lost 100 pounds among them since January, then they haven't lost an ounce. The trim Bugel has gone from "Boss Hog" to a strip of bacon. "I don't know if the players are in shape," said Gibbs, "but Buges is."

Ironically, Gibbs and his supposedly geriatric offensive staff actually look more fit and energized than they did 11 years ago when the head coach, overweight and sleep deprived, quit due to chronic exhaustion. His crew was frazzled, too.

Now, they're back. Though they can't play much defense anymore. Gibbs will chuck a receiver at the line of scrimmage, maybe. Breaux will take a few quick steps to give a defensive "read" to the offense. That's about all they've got left.

"If they can't beat us," said Gibbs, "we're in trouble."

For the time being, Gibbs is undefeated in his NFL comeback and anybody with any appreciation for life's rare, unexpected sweet gifts should just enjoy the whole foolish over-the-top spectacle. "This is so much fun," said sports medicine director Bubba Tyer, who "retired" last year after 33 Redskins seasons but is back. "We had a great meeting last night. Just listening to Joe made it feel like old times. This is going to be good."

Maybe. Or maybe it'll be a bust. But it's downright wonderful right now. The scene at Redskins Park for these preseason practices is like a tent revival. "You haven't seen this many fans out here since the last time the Redskins won the Super Bowl," said defensive back Fred Smoot, nodding at a few thousand people covering a hillside. "Things are going to be different now. The fans will know it. The record will show it."

In Hollywood, that's certainly how the script would work out. In the feel-good flick "Space Cowboys," Clint Eastwood, James Garner, Tommy Lee Jones and Donald Sutherland pretended they could turn back the clock to their "Right Stuff" youth and reinvent themselves as curmudgeonly senior-citizen astronauts on their way to the moon. In the movies, it all looked so plausible. What's age but attitude?

But what happens in the real world? Especially in the NFL, which is about as reality-tested as anything our culture provides. We're about to find out. Hold on to your heartstrings. And keep a hankie handy if the happy ending doesn't materialize.

For now, Redskins fans, including some who showed up as early as 5:45 a.m. for a 9 a.m. practice, hardly seem to care about the future chapters of this saga. They are too delighted simply gazing on the amazingly unexpected sight of Gibbs's return.

Always one to play possum, Gibbs pretends he's in his dotage. When asked whether his first day back in the NFL reminded him of his first Redskins training camp back in 1981, the Hall of Fame coach quipped: "I can't remember '81. I'm too old."

Plenty of Redskins will remember August of '04. LaVar Arrington came off the field after the 1-hour 45-minute morning practice, with another similar one scheduled for the afternoon, saying over and over, "Man, I need to lie down."

"We never take breaks. We're always working," said 310-pound tackle Chris Samuels, comparing Gibbs's relatively short, extremely intense practices to his previous four Redskins seasons under (gulp) four other head coaches. "The coaches are intense. They love us and we love them. . . . The coaches demand perfection and we're excited about it. The guys are hungry. . . . The fans have been waiting for something and we're going to give it to them."

rest of the story
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/ar ... l31_2.html

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Postby DEHog » Sun Aug 01, 2004 6:47 am

The trim Bugel has gone from "Boss Hog" to a strip of bacon. "I don't know if the players are in shape," said Gibbs, "but Buges is."

Great line!!
"Sean Taylor is hands down the best athlete I've ever coached it's not even close" Gregg Williams 2005 Mini-Camp

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