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Arrington takes wait-and-see approach


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HONOLULU (Feb. 4, 2004) -- Some things never change.

LaVar Arrington is here, preparing for another Pro Bowl. Back in Ashburn, Va., his team, the Washington Redskins, is beginning another offseason with a new coach.

"Same old story, huh?" Arrington said as he left Aloha Stadium after practicing with the NFC squad.

You'll have to forgive the talented outside linebacker if he isn't exactly caught up in all of the massive hype surrounding the return of Joe Gibbs to the Redskins sideline. Don't get Arrington wrong. He knows all about Gibbs' successful history with the franchise -- his 124-60 record and three Super Bowl victories -- and the fact his bronze bust is on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He is as encouraged as anyone connected with the team that Gibbs could, once and for all, be the answer to its underachievement.

It's just that Arrington has heard the same sort of talk before. He has had his hopes elevated by the arrival of a new coach, only to see them trampled when the team failed to make progress.

"We had a nice buzz with (Steve) Spurrier and we had a nice buzz with Marty (Schottenheimer)," Arrington said of the excitement generated by the hiring of his previous two coaches. "We'll see (about Gibbs). We'll see."

Arrington has just finished his fourth season with the Redskins. The fact he is making his third consecutive Pro Bowl appearance says that he has spent the bulk of his career ranked among the more dominant players at his position.

Pro Bowler LaVar Arrington is on his fifth coach in four years with the 'Skins.

Gibbs is Arrington's fifth head coach with the Redskins, and that says something, too. It says Arrington has excelled as a player despite instability at the number one leadership position on the team. Norv Turner and Terry Robiskie were at the controls in Arrington's rookie season in 2000. Schottenheimer was in charge in his second year. Spurrier was at the helm for his third and fourth seasons, then stunned the Redskins with his resignation in late December. Their combined record was 29-38.

"I'm just looking for a chance to be in a system where there's tradition, where there's stability, where there's just consistency," said Arrington, who is joined on the NFC squad by Washington teammates Champ Bailey and Laveranues Coles. "That's what I hope that Joe Gibbs is going to bring into it."

It's important to remember that Arrington is in this for the long haul. After the 2003 season, he signed an eight-year contract extension that is designed for him to finish his career with the Redskins.

He has dealt with the different personalities and approaches, from Schottenheimer's drill-sergeant style to Spurrier's far more casual way of running things. He has coped with new defensive systems -- as well as the alterations and tweaks to his role -- that come from changes at the top. He has taken losing hard and has often bristled at criticism, but he has not allowed either to take away from his performance.

"I'm not a coward," Arrington said. "I'm not one to run away from a problem. Let's continue to keep trying to fix it.

"You get discouraged sometimes and you get a little bothered, but in the end I feel, if you persevere through all of those trials and all the tribulations that come your way, it's huge when you start to become successful. I try to see the positives in everything. I figure, at some point, there has to be a happier ending to all of this stuff that's going on."

And Gibbs could very well be the author of a new finish to what has become a tired, old story. Arrington sees the possibilities. Although he has yet to meet his new coach, he feels as if he knows him.

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"I'm a fan of the game, so I know everything about him," Arrington said. "I know he's been successful in everything he's done. I know he's the one that brought those Super Bowls to Washington. All the tradition that Redskins fans talk about it, he's part of the reason it was built like that.

"He's been successful in everything he's put his hands on, from owning a (NASCAR) racing team to owning a piece of the Atlanta Falcons before they made it to the second round of the playoffs. Everything he's been a part of has flourished, so I'm putting stock in the fact he knows how to build a winner.

"We just need to know that he believes in us and believes in the system that he's implementing. We have the talent. We just need somebody that's taking us in the right direction."

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