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Pressure doesn't faze Turner

By Compiled by ERNEST HOOPER

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 1, 2000


Minutes before last week's high-pressured game against the Giants, Norv Turner stood underneath the stadium talking to a friend.

The Redskins and their $100-million payroll had lost two in a row, and everyone thought impetuous owner Daniel Snyder would fire Turner if Washington lost three in a row. It was hardly the time for humor, but Turner found a way.

"Smile. You look like you're going to a funeral."

During a conference call with Tampa Bay media last week, Turner again found it easy to laugh. Asked if his job had added pressure because PresidentBill Clinton is a fan, Turner quipped, "I thought Tampa was his favorite team."

What gives? Turner is supposed to be the coach who has the impossible owner and the unreasonable expectations. Laughter is hardly supposed to be part of his makeup in the No Fun League.

"I've been coaching in this league for a long time," Turner said. "You know this is a very intense game and there's a very serious side to it. But if you lose your sense of humor, it's an awfully long season."

Turner's lighthearted approach may be just what the Redskins need to deal with the expectations. Snyder denies it, but the general thought is if Washington doesn't make it to the Super Bowl, Turner is out.

In addition to pressures caused by a 2-2 start, the team has battled adversity. In four weeks, the 'Skins have endured a potential quarterback controversy, defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield's domestic battery arrest, receiver Michael Westbrook's season-ending knee injury, the release of kicker Brett Conway, ineffective punt returns by Deion Sanders and an inconsistent offense.

"We had a lot of high expectations," safety Sam Shade told the Baltimore Sun. "I don't know if people outside of this locker room still have the high expectations. But I feel like we do. ... As long as we know what we are trying to achieve, we'll be fine.

"I didn't buy into the, "You guys have bought yourself a Super Bowl.' If you don't go out there and do the things you are supposed to do to win, you are not going to."

CONTRACT TALKS: While much has been made of the Redskins' galaxy of highly paid stars, one player isn't exactly getting paid.

Starting quarterback Brad Johnson is in the final year of his deal and is seeking a new one. But last week, talks stalled, making it more likely Johnson will become a free agent.

Johnson's early season inconsistencies have done nothing to move negotiations along, according to a Washington Post report, and unless a formal agreement is reached by mid-October, the sides may not talk until the end of the season.

The Redskins signed Jeff George to a four-year, $18.25-million contract in the off-season and also spent considerable money to bring Sanders, defensive end Bruce Smith and other free agents to town.

Although Johnson privately may be wondering when his turn is coming, publicly he insists the focus is on football.

"I'm not really worried about it this time," Johnson said. "I know I'm going to be playing somewhere next year, whether it's here or with another team. Hopefully it's here in Washington, but if it's not, then I'll move on. When it's time to deal with it, then I'll deal with it. But right now, it hasn't affected me because the main thing right now is just winning and producing and having fun playing the game."

NOTES: Center Cory Raymer was placed on injured reserve after reinjuring his knee. It was hoped Raymer could rehab the initial injury, which occurred Aug. 14, but he further damaged the knee in rehab. ... The Redskins' win over the Giants proved sleep is not always critical. Someone pulled the fire alarm twice at Washington's hotel the night before the game. ... Former Bucs kicker Michael Husted missed a 30-yard field goal and an extra point last week. Further miscues may land him on the waiver wire. ... Husted played for Tampa Bay from 1993-98. Redskins punter Tommy Barnhardt was here from 1996-98. ... In the next seven games, the Redskins face all four teams that played in the conference championships last season plus Philadelphia, Baltimore and Arizona.

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