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Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Largent defends Zorn

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

When times get tough in life, it's nice to be able to lean on a good friend -- especially if he's Hall of Fame wide receiver and former U.S. congressman Steve Largent. Appearing on a Seattle radio station Wednesday, Largent came racing to his old quarterback Jim Zorn's side in ripping Redskins owner Dan Snyder for the way he's treated Zorn following Sunday's 14-6 loss to the Chiefs.
 Largent
 Zorn


NFC West blogger Mike Sando is based in the Seattle area and he alertly cranked out a news story for ESPN.com based on Largent's comments. Largent told KJR that he's been talking to Zorn on a daily basis, although he was quick to point out that his explosive opinions on the situation were his own. Largent echoed something I've been writing since Zorn's play-calling duties were stripped from him by Redskins executive vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato on Sunday:

"In my opinion, and this is just totally my opinion -- Jim has never said this, never implied this -- I think what Daniel Snyder was trying to do was to force Jim to resign so he was not liable for his contract any longer. And Jim is just not going to do that."

Bingo! And that's not a reference to the Skins' new playcaller Sherman Lewis, who was calling bingo at a senior citizens center in Detroit about three weeks ago. Just reading between the lines, I agree with Largent that Snyder and Cerrato probably expected that Zorn's pride would take such a hit that he would immediately resign, thus getting them off the hook for the third year of his contract. Zorn's under contract for five years, but only the first three were guaranteed.

I have a hard time believing that a well-known orator such as Largent would simply go off the rails during a radio interview. Surely he let Zorn know that he was about to go after Snyder. I thought Largent saved some of his best lines for describing Lewis' hiring.

"To think that you can bring a guy in from a retirement center who is pulling out Ping-Pong balls in the bingo games -- and literally, that is what he was doing in Detroit -- bring him down here for two weeks and say, 'You are going to call the plays for the next game against the Philadelphia Eagles,' a division opponent, on 'Monday Night Football,' and think that is going to be successful, that is a joke."

OK, I'm actually starting to feel a little sorry for Lewis. The guy was probably down at the retirement center trying to do a good deed -- and we're now making him out to be a professional bingo caller. I don't think he was down there trying to make an extra buck or two.

Anyway, Largent's quotes are obviously very personal. He sees a close friend and former teammate going through a painful situation and wants to fight for him. And I don't blame the guy one bit. The part of the interview, though, that makes Snyder and Cerrato look the worst is where Largent indicates that one of them actually pulled out Zorn's contract to show him he had to go along with their foolish plan -- if he wanted to remain employed.

"They went to the point of pulling out his contract and saying, 'You have got to do whatever the owner tells you to do,'" Largent said of Redskins management.

I just cringe when I think of a scenario in which Cerrato was flipping through pages of Zorn's contract. You sort of wonder if Snyder keeps a copy of the contract on his person at all times. As I've said more than once, I wish Zorn could just walk away from this mess.

But for now, he's going to hang in there and let Snyder and Cerrato continue to get blasted by the critics. The more I think about it, that's not a bad strategy.