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WT: Rushing the quarterback


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Rushing the quarterback

By Mark Zuckerman


Patrick Ramsey looked tired. He should have, considering the day he had been through.

There was the interview with ESPN. Two more with local television stations. A photo shoot for the cover of USA Today Sports Weekly. His daily briefing with the entire Washington Redskins press corps. Two 30-minute blocks of signing autographs. A host of team and position meetings back at the Redskins' training camp headquarters.

Oh yeah, somewhere in between it all, Ramsey found time to practice football. Twice.

Such is life when you're in your first week of training camp as starting quarterback of the Washington Redskins. Everybody wants a piece of you — media, fans, coaches, teammates. Through it all, the 24-year-old has managed to keep a level head.

"I don't even evaluate it really," Ramsey said during a brief respite between TV appearances late yesterday afternoon. "I just do what's asked of me. It's not really a big deal to me, because I just want to remain who I am and not evaluate that people want to get my autograph or interview me."

All this peripheral attention, you would think, could become a distraction for a young, impressionable quarterback. And after a lackluster performance during yesterday's morning practice, there surely were some who wondered whether Ramsey was devoting too much of his focus to TV cameras and not enough to defensive sets.

Ramsey wasn't too pleased with his play during a morning session that included several interceptions, a couple of sacks, a poorly engineered two-minute drill and some harsh words from coach Steve Spurrier, who later said it wasn't one of his quarterback's better days.

"I'll never get upset if he tells me it was a bad day, because it was. Those are the facts," Ramsey said during his midday gathering with the media. "But I'm going to bounce back this afternoon and have a better practice."

True to his word, he then performed far better. His ability to rebound, Ramsey said, was partly because he was able to leave his poor morning play on the field.

Even after his worst showing of camp, he didn't shy away from his regular post-practice obligations: autographs and interviews.

"I'm going to retain a positive attitude, good or bad," Ramsey said. "It's like today. I didn't want to talk to anybody. I had a bad practice this morning, but I thought, 'You know what? I'm going to go over there, I'm going to sign my autographs just like I always do, I'm going to do my interviews just like I always do. Nothing's going to change. I'm not going to change just because circumstances change.' "

Ramsey takes particular pride in his autograph sessions. Nobody on the roster has spent more time this week interacting with fans, especially young ones. Ramsey's reasons for partaking in a daily activity that many players routinely shirk are simple.

"I never want to forget what it would have meant to me to have a player come over and be nice to me," he said. "It would have made my drive to become an NFL player even stronger. I'm not going to gain anything from the extra 15 minutes by not signing autographs. I just figure, 'I'm going to be out here with you guys, I'm going to be on the last team bus anyway, I might as well make some people happy in the process.' "

Ramsey is just as accommodating with the media. He has done interviews this week with just about every major news organization in the country and even some not so major ones.

Rarely does an interviewer ask Ramsey a question he hasn't already heard in one form or another. The most popular one?

" 'What about your new team speed?' " he replied without hesitation. "That's the one I've heard from every single interview, even the ones I've already answered it for sometimes."

Ramsey shuffles from one interview tent to another with the precision of a 15-yard "in" pattern to Laveranues Coles. He has become such a requested figure that the Redskins have given him his own personal PR rep, media relations manager Pat Wixted. Each morning, Wixted hands Ramsey a schedule that outlines his obligations for the day.

"That man right there is a lifesaver," Ramsey said. "I'd never be able to do all this on my own."

Even as he utters that last statement, Ramsey is being ushered off in the other direction. There's one more TV interview to do, Wixted informs him. After that, Ramsey has to catch the last bus to the National Conference Center, where the team is headquartered during camp.

He'll have dinner with his teammates. Then comes the evening round of quarterback meetings. Finally, Ramsey's day is done.

You get the feeling that he can't wait.

"Oh, man," he says as he heads off to fulfill his next obligation. "As soon as the meetings are over, I'm crashing. I'm exhausted."

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now does this sound like the attitude we have seen from Jeff George and others playing qb here over the past few years?

Brad Johnson tried to pull a whammy by saying how he grew up a Redskin fan at his first press conference, but his displeasure was later revealed when he and his agent worked to the last minute to get the Vikings to keep Brad or trade him elsewhere.

Gus was a nice enough guy and probably came the closest to Ramsey in terms of being someone you root for.

Unfortunately, the Redskins as a team seemed so dysfunctional during those days you never really could just sit back and enjoy seeing younger players strive to get better.

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