A mildly alarming number of readers knew in advance that SI.com writer Peter King’s tour of NFL training camps was stopping at Redskins Park today, and a few of them wrote me with questions for him. I interrupted King in the media room and asked him for a few minutes of his time, but he was running down info on the ongoing Brett Favre saga and asked me to come back. Once I did catch up with him, I asked him the questions I had received (and one of my own) and found him to be candid, informed, and remarkably optimistic about what he saw at Redskins Park today.
How has your view of the Redskins changed over the Dan Snyder era?
I would say I thought Snyder was beyond impetuous early on, wasted a tremendous amount of cap money and came here thinking he could buy a championship. You can’t, obviously. And this year, I think the Redskins had a tremendously smart offseason, because they were nineteen million over the cap seven months ago, and last week they were nine million under the cap, and they didn’t even have to do very much to trade for Jason Taylor.
So because they were disciplined in the offseason and didn’t go out and overspend for a lousy player, like Brandon Lloyd, they had enough money to go out and trade for Jason Taylor.
I think a decade in this business, you start to learn things, and I think he realizes now you can’t just buy a championship. Now, who knows? He might become Joe Impetuous again if he’s got some cap money next year. I don’t know.
But if I were a Redskins fan, I think I’d look at this year and say, “I think this is a pretty good year for us.”
I got this one a few times, so I’m going to ask you, but I also have a follow-up of my own. Why do you hate the Redskins, or why are you biased against them?
Over the last few years, I think they’ve done a lot of stupid things roster-wise, signing players and overspending, signing all these receivers who are basically the same sized guy, the same player. I just think they haven’t been a really smart team.
Now, I’ll tell you this. I get a lot of people who are Patriots fans who say “Why do you hate the Patriots?” and I get a lot of people who live in other parts of the country who say “Why are you in love with the Patriots?”
So, I don’t know, if you write some negative things about a team, I think people feel like you hate ‘em. If you go several years and are outspoken against Art Monk to the Hall of Fame, people think you hate the Redskins.
But that’s just the way it is in our business. If you have an opinion, you sometimes get crucified for having one.
All right, that anticipates my follow up: are there any teams whose fans don’t think you hate them?
The fans of the Houston Texans are not passionate. The fans of the Arizona Cardinals are not passionate. I mean, I came out here this morning, and all you see are people who are just NUTTY about the Redskins. They’re out of their minds. They’re crazy.
Now, I go to a lot of different camps. I’ll be at seventeen different camps this year. This will be in the top 3 among enthusiastic fanbases that I see. And so I expect that to happen, and I don’t throw my hands in the air and say, “Ah, you bunch of idiots,” you know? It’s just the way fans are. Fans love their team, and if you say something bad about their team, they’re not going to be happy about it, so it’s fine.
Two more. Are you excited to see Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick back together on Sunday Night Football?
I think it’ll be fun from the standpoint of being a fan of comedy and good TV and quick-witted people. I’ll tell you this: last year I was on the set with Olbermann and Bob Costas and there were times where I would have to say to myself, “Okay, say something that isn’t stupid.” Because I’m listening to them, and we’re on live TV, and they’d be so fun and so clever that it’s almost intimidating.
I think it’ll be really fun to see both those guys together, and that they’ll have a lot of fun things to say.
Okay. Finally: tell us something you saw at camp today that’s not going to make it into your Postcard From Camp, but that Redskins fans would want to know.
I’ll tell you something that IS going to make it into my postcard: I thought Jason Campbell had one of the best camp practices I’ve ever seen a quarterback have.
I mean, if he had four balls hit the ground in two hours, I’ll be surprised. I mean, the touch on this passes, his accuracy downfield, I was highly, highly impressed.
Now, I’ve seen him a few times over the years, and I’ve thought he’s okay, but I never saw him like I saw him today.
Do you think it’s Coach Zorn? What do you think it is?
I think it’s maturation, I think it’s fourth year in the NFL, I think it’s a lot of things. Now, you know what I like about him? He could have sat there with his eight different offensive systems in the last nine years of his football life and he could’ve said, “Woe is me, I am so sick of this crap, I’m going to go buy my own team so I can run the offense that I would want to run.”
But all he did was – evidently he MUST have – put his nose to the grindstone and learned another offense.
Now, you always, always hesitate [to judge] when there’s nobody rushing. I mean, one of the best camp practices I saw last year was Rex Grossman and I have become convinced now that Grossman is great when he knows he’s not going to get hit. And he still MIGHT be great. But I saw him two practices last year, he was fantastic, and then he was Rex Grossman when the lights came on. So we’ll see about Jason Campbell.
But, if I’m a Redskins fan watching this practice today, I go home and I’m really excited.