I am writing to you about the recent year-end wrap-up by Dave McKenna (“Unsportsmen of the Year,” 12/22/00). Let’s start off by saying what a die-hard and critical fan I am. If the Redskins don’t perform, I let my friends hear about it all weekall year, for that matter.
McKenna attempts to show how the Redskins are a bunch of overpaid, disrespectful athletes. He tries to make Bruce Smith look like a bad sportsman by citing how Smith was called for numerous unsportsmanlike-conduct penalties. That’s just competitiveness. Did it tear the team apart? No. Did it make the team’s defense worse? No. As a matter of fact, the team’s defense was one of the top-ranked this year.
McKenna also cites Brad Johnson for crossing picket lines. Johnson is not in the Screen Actors Guild. What does it matter? Johnson has shown nothing but class since he’s been in this organization, and I resent the fact that McKenna brings in ludicrous arguments against some of the higher-profile Redskins.
Next, Deion Sanders. He might not be the ultimate cornerback anymore, but he’s a respectful teammate. Listen to his quotes. He’s often said, “Judge me on my performance,” and we have. Yes, he’s lost a step. But how unsportsmanlike is all of this?
The Redskins did not perform this year. Was it the high expectations from the media, fans, and players themselves? Was it Dan Snyder’s meddling? Was it the noninspirational coaching by Norv Turner? I don’t know these answers. What I do know is that if the Redskins were winning, none of this would have been said. McKenna seems to be trying to make a gumbo by throwing anything into the pot and seeing what he can get. Hardly anything he says makes good sense. Instead of blaming players’ characters, as we do with (the deserving) Rod Strickland, let’s look at more lucid and plausible explanations than McKenna’s.