Monday, April 27, 2009
Sanchez talk shocks Campbell
POTOMAC FALLS, Va. -- Jason Campbell sat on a patio with a distant view of the Potomac River, preparing to host the charity golf tournament that bears his name. Choosing his words carefully, he reflected on the sequence of events that nearly led him to ask for a trade from the Washington Redskins.
"It definitely was a shock," Campbell said, "when I started hearing Sanchez talk."
Campbell was still the Redskins' starting quarterback Monday, having survived the second of two attempts by the team's brain trust to acquire someone else. He was having dinner Thursday night when he first learned that the front office was seriously interested in working a deal to select Southern California quarterback Mark Sanchez in the first round of the NFL draft.
Once was bad enough. Twice was too much. Had the Redskins drafted Sanchez, Campbell would have asked for a trade, said a person familiar with the situation who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject.
Asked if it were so, Campbell dodged the question with a huge smile.
"No comment, you know," he said.
Just three weeks earlier, the Redskins tried to trade for Denver Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler. When the deal fell through, there was a clear-the-air meeting between Campbell, owner Dan Snyder, front office chief Vinny Cerrato and coach Jim Zorn. Afterward, Cerrato announced: "We are all on the same page and we are moving forward."
But Sanchez wasn't on that particular page, at least not in Campbell's mind. In hindsight, Campbell was asked, does that big meeting earlier this month now seem rather pointless?
"It's an awkward situation," Campbell answered, "just because after the Cutler deal, we did sit down and talk -- and then the Sanchez talk came up."
The unspoken point is that the Redskins think they can do better. Campbell, a first-round draft pick in 2005, has been nowhere close to Pro Bowl form in his 36 NFL starts, but he has also had to learn three offensive systems in his short pro career because of instability among Washington's coaching staff.
Last year, in his first year running a West Coach offense under Zorn, Campbell had 13 touchdown passes and six interceptions, with all of the picks coming in the second half of the season when the team collapsed from a 6-2 start to finish 8-8.
Campbell is entering the final year of his rookie contract, but his agent, Joel Segal, said there had been no recent movement in talks about an extension. Then came the failed attempts to land Cutler and Sanchez.
"One thing I was kind of upset about is it makes you feel like you're a bad quarterback, someone that's not wanted or something," Campbell said. "But at the same time it makes you a stronger person. It makes you a stronger quarterback, and through all of this it's going to help my process."
Campbell is well-liked by teammates and fans for his affable personality and his work in the community. He doesn't raise his voice in anger or criticize anyone publicly. He wasn't just a name attached to the Jason Campbell Leukemia Golf Classic -- he actually took the poster child for the event, 8-year-old Sey-J Lansdowne, out to play miniature golf on Thursday. If anything, he's been criticized for not having enough grit to be an NFL player.
His answers, therefore, politely danced around the questions. Did he feel, for example, that Snyder and Cerrato had been honest with him?
"In this business, it's tough," Camel said. "We had our meeting, and what we discussed was between us, and right now I'm looking forward to minicamp."
It certainly isn't Campbell's style to throw a proverbial tantrum, as Cutler did when demanding a trade from Denver.
"If I had acted rebellious or anything, that would have made the situation a lot worse," Campbell said. "It would have affected a lot more people than myself, and I feel that's not right. Those guys I work with every day, lifting weights and sweating, and then the fans that still support me."
Campbell scored one significant victory Monday. The quarterback saga attracted more reporters than usual to his golf tournament -- giving his cause some much-needed publicity. It also overshadowed the news conference held at Redskins Park for Brian Orakpo, the player Snyder and Cerrato took in the first round after they were unable to trade up to select Sanchez.
The turmoil is over, at least for now. Campbell will be the undisputed No. 1 QB at this weekend's minicamp.
"Certainly you want to know, especially with minicamp coming up, who you got," said receiver Antwaan Randle El, joining Campbell and other teammates on the patio. "It's just been a little bit of a tough battle, more so for Jason, but he's been one of those guys who can go to the fire and come out as gold. We're just glad it's all swept under the rug, or spilled milk, at this point."