Last year, legendary football coach Joe Gibbs returned to the helm of the Washington Redskins after an absence of more than a decade. In his first stint, he led the Redskins to three championships. He was able to do this without many star players because he populated his squads with players of outstanding character — guys like Mark Rypien, Brian Mitchell, Jeff Bostic, Mark May, Donnie Warren, Earnest Byner, Tim Johnson, and Monte Coleman, just to name a few.
Gibbs is struggling to find “character guys” this time around, though he has no shortage of characters. The strangest of the lot seems to Sean Taylor, a safety of enormous talent. Hand-picked by Gibbs in last year’s draft, Taylor managed in one year to make a strong bid for the knuckle-head hall of fame. This spring, to Gibbs’ stated dismay, Taylor has refused to attend team practices because already he wants a new contract. He has been joined in his boycott by newly acquired wide-receiver Santana Moss. Both attended the University of Miami.
So did Clinton Portis. Gibbs acquired Portis in a huge trade last year. Portis is attending the spring practices and, according to this report from David Elfin of the Washington Times, Gibbs wants him to become a team leader. Portis is auditionig for the role by supporting the boycott of his buddies, Taylor and Moss. He cites two reasons: (1) it’s a long season (but not that long for the Redskins; our season ended three and half months ago) and (2) the spring sessions are worthless. In fact, Portis says he has told his mates “You’re not missing nothing.”
I still think that Gibbs will turn the Redskins around. But, at an advanced age, his character is being tested as never before.
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