Full of hubris and humility, swagger and sweetness, Steve Spurrier owned the room yesterday in his first remarks as Head Coach of the Washington Redskins. If you wanted to like him going in, you loved him when you left. If you didn’t care for his style beforehand, you were gagging halfway through. It was classic Spurrier.
In other words, he was completely himself. Addressed the Redskins owner as “Mr. Snyder” although the owner is 19 years his junior, pled his case to the veteran players right there from the podium saying “soldiers don’t practice with live bullets” and convinced Bruce Smith to return right on the spot. He was disarming to his critics, and even slipped in a few jabs at FSU and Tennessee.
“These are not FSU colors,” Spurrier intoned in a mock announcement when asked about the burgundy and gold team colors of the Redskins. “This is burgundy and gold, and that’s not their colors.”
He really got a laugh when he deflected a question about his non-stop tweaking of his opponents. “I think that’s blown way up,” is how he started. “You tell a little cornball joke about the Citrus Bowl being the winter home of the Vols and everybody gets mad.”
He jumped right into it, drawing Redskins fans closer and closer by becoming one of them. “We’ve got the best fans and the biggest stadium,” Spurrier said in his opening remarks, “and I hope it’s the loudest one in the league.”
And he hadn’t even been there 10 minutes.
Gator fans loved Spurrier because they believed he was one of them. And he was, and always will be. But they’ll now have to share him with Redskins fans, because he’s genuine when he talks about “we” and “us.”
Growing up in east Tennessee, Steve admitted he was a Redskins fan growing up. Until 1966 (coincidentally the year he won the Heisman Trophy) the Redskins were the team of the South. They were on televisions throughout the region every Sunday. Geographically they were the most Southern team in the league, before the Falcons, Dolphins, Bucs, Titans, Jaguars, Saints and others. He followed the Redskins as a kid, and now he’s their Head Coach. He’ll take the blame for losing and share the praise when they win. He said all the right things. He was ready he was prepared. He knew when to say “I don’t know” and he called on one of the most hallowed names in Redskins history, Joe Gibbs. “When my time is over here, I hope to leave like Joe Gibbs. Not many coaches get to go out on their own terms.” You could just hear Redskins fans fainting all over the District. You want to be like Gibbs? The three Super Bowl winning Gibbs? How much more perfect can you be?
Those who question whether Spurrier can adapt his style to professional football need only to have seen yesterday’s performance. Steve’s not some dumb, football only coach. He’ll figure out a way to win and perhaps more importantly, he’ll figure out a way to get along with “Mr. Snyder.”