Dec 29, 2005, 1:27 AM EDT
You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net
Just when you thought it was safe, Mt. Arrington erupts again. A couple of months after he finally got off the bench and onto the field, Arrington is at the center of the storm once again. Last time, it was not all his doing as it was the coaches who decided that he should ride the pine. This time, however, the eruption was of Arrington’s own making, created by his own words.
In an article by David Elfin in the Washington Times, Arrington says that this is likely to be his last season in Washington.
He says he would be cut even if he hadn’t missed most of last season because of injuries — injuries that lingered and made him a spare part for much of the first half of this season.
“Obviously, using me sparingly or not at all is a very clear message,” says Arrington, who did not play despite suiting up for an Oct. 9 loss to the Denver Broncos. “I’m not wanted here. I believe in my heart that the Redskins faithful love me as Ravens fans love Ray Lewis or Packers fans love Brett Favre. Some individuals hate it that there are more of my jerseys in the stands than anyone else’s.”
Arrington said that his imminent departure had to do with a laundry list of issues including the dispute over $6.5 million in a contract extension he signed in 2003 and his attitude towards the game.
Arrington says his refusal to give his entire life to football also hurt his standing with coaches. “Causing a fumble to win a game or getting an interception to change a season, that’s not the extent of my life,” he says. “It never has been. I always see myself as a person first. Maybe coaches get upset that I don’t take myself or this game too seriously and they do. Maybe they get upset because I see it as a game and nothing more than a game.”
Well, LaVar, when you get paid tens of millions of dollars to play that game, others are entitled to expect that you take it seriously.
Certainly Joe Gibbs does. After practice on Wednesday he refused to comment on the story, saying that he’d just heard about it. He did say that he didn’t even want to think about the situation:
“Right now, for anyone in this organization – or, I would hope, in the entire town – to be focused on anything but Philadelphia is ridiculous. We’re getting ready to play the most important game that a lot of our players have played – in a place where it’s extremely tough to play and in a place where [the home team] just took the Giants into overtime. If we lose the game, we aren’t going anywhere, so my mindset is on one thing: Philadelphia. I’m not thinking about anything else but that.”
This was not like the incident this past April when two reporters stumbled across Arrington in the halls at Redskins Park and, facing another surgery on his knee, he took some emotional shots at the organization. It wasn’t a case where some reporter stuck a microphone in Arrington’s face as he was coming off the practice field or in the locker room after a tough loss. The interview that was the basis for the article took place at Arrington’s house near Annapolis. Either Arrington called up Elfin invited him to come up and talk or Elfin asked Arrington if he could drop by.
In either case, Arrington knew exactly what he was doing. That is what makes this particularly galling.
According to my colleague John Keim, Arrington went to Gibbs with the old “misinterpreted” line. If you believe that you probably flew in Santa sleigh last week. There is no reporter who covers the Redskins who is more respected than David Elfin. He is as good as they come; there’s no doubt that he has everything on tape and that he and his editors made sure that what he wrote fairly and accurately represented what he said.
The Redskins would have to take a net cap hit of some $7 million to cut Arrington. There seems to be little doubt that they will do so. It looks like good riddance.
Through everything that has gone on with Arrington, I’ve always had respect for him as a stand-up guy who often wore his emotions on his sleeve. That has changed. It’s hard to have much respect for a guy who chooses to play games off the field while there are still some very important ones happening on the field.
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