There is a bright sun and the camera slowly pans back and downward. Muffled voices become more clear and the audience can hear the words growing ever more clear. “Split left, slot zoom, 23 dash, 141 pass, on 2 – READY! BREAK” We see a football huddle break. It is a summer practice for the Washington Redskins in Carlyle, PA. There are about 4000 fans sitting in the stands enjoying the hot, but not too hot, summer day.
With the snap of the ball, the QB fakes a handoff – the play action freezes the linebackers – and the QB rolls out to his left and sees the wide open tight end over the middle. The linebackers are not deep enough to cover the streaking tight end. The QB cocks his arm back and throws – a dead duck of a pass that is far short of the target. It falls harmlessly to the ground, incomplete.
Coach Gibbs shakes his head and says, “Now Mark, what’s wrong? Your arm sore?” Mark Brunell looks down and says, “Coach, I think the Lord is telling me to call it quits.” He takes off his helmet, extends his hand to Gibbs, and says, “Thanks coach, for everything you have done for me. I’m through.” They shake hands, then give each other a warm embrace, before Brunell walks off the field slowly. As he is leaving he waves to the fans who give him polite applause.
Gibbs turns to the sideline and calls out, “Rambo! Get in there son, looks like you are our starting QB! Can you handle being the starting QB of the Washington Redskins?”
“Yo!” The one word reply is simple, elegant, and to the point. He is clearly a man who is confident and in command. The fans rise to their feet and give a long, sustained ovation. Ever since Rambo was signed three months earlier, there has been great anticipation to see if his considerable physical prowess could be harnessed and used on the football field.
Rambo shakes back his hair, secures his helmet on over his long flowing locks and runs out to the huddle. While he is wearing a helmet, he does not have shoulder pads or a jersey on – choosing to play shirtless (all the other players on the field are in full pads). Rambo is wearing football pants with the hip pads, very thick thigh pads, and knee pads. “Let’s rock baby!” Rambo says with a twisted smile as he enters the huddle.
Coach Gibbs had had his doubts about Rambo from the first time he had met him. Danny Boy had brought him to practice one day and said he was a great QB. His assessment had been based on the word of the “great” talent evaluator, Pepper Rogers. Gibbs called out the play to Rambo’s radio device in his helmet, “Split left, slot zoom, 23 dash, 141 pass.” Rambo relayed the call to his teammates in the huddle, “Quarterback Sneak! On 2. Ready BREAK.” Rambo took the snap and took off running right into the line. Gibbs shook his head and called the same play again. The same thing happened – QB sneak. Dumbfounded, Gibbs yelled out, “Rambo, is the wireless working? Did you hear my call?” Rambo smiled his contorted smile, “Yo. I just decided to improvise.” “Well don’t!” Gibbs snapped back.
“Alright, let’s air it out Rambo – let’s see what kind of arm strength you have. Shotgun formation and send all the receivers out on fly patterns. Just let it fly Rambo.” Gibbs said calmly. Rambo turned to the huddle, “Quarterback Sneak!” Gibbs threw down his headset and charged toward Rambo. “I want to see you make a pass.” Gibbs ordered Santana Moss to run a fly pattern down the sideline and ordered Rambo to throw it. Moss was about 30 yards downfield and Rambo took off running toward him. He smiled as he thought, this QB sneak is really working – Moss is a great decoy.
Danny Boy was on the sideline taking it all in. Gibbs walked over and said, “Dan, we have a problem.” Danny Boy could see that but did not seem too concerned. “You can handle it.” After two more days of Rambo running nothing more than QB sneaks, Gibbs said to Danny Boy, “Look Dan, I don’t know what to do, but I am going to have to play Jason Campbell.” Danny Boy looked straight into Gibbs’ eyes and said firmly, “You will play Rambo and you will make it work. He is a great player and I just signed him to a $18 million/year contract.”
Gibbs’ jaw dropped. “You did what? They guy cannot play and you did not even consult me before signing him to so much money. The guy is going to kill our cap.” Danny Boy whined, “But Pepper told me he was so good. Just make it work.”
Gibbs did not say anything. His face was red with anger. He turned around, walked off the practice field, got into his car and drove away – never to be a Redskin again. Danny Boy was miffed, but said, “Good riddance.” He got on the phone and talked to Pepper. “I need a coach . . . and fast.” Pepper reassured him that all would be fine and he had just the man. The new coach would be there in the morning.
The next day the players were abuzz about the goings on in camp. They wondered who their new coach would be. They could see Danny Boy flanked by Pepper Rogers and someone they had never seen before. The players gathered around and Danny Boy said, “Men, I would like you to meet your new coach.” He turned to the stranger who said in an Austrian accent, “I don’t liiike flabby girlie men. Let’s get to wurk you ugly mudda f**kas! Rambo, you big mudda f**ka, I want to tawwk wit you.” So began the Coach Dutch era.