Two Sides

I would love to sit in on one of the many private coach-player meetings that go on in pro sports. 'Cause it seems like no matter who the coach is or who the player is, something's always lost in translation. On this beat alone, I've seen it happen with Patrick Ramsey, Laveranues Coles, Rod Gardner, Fred Smoot, Antonio Pierce, LaVar Arrington, Ryan Clark, and now, Ladell Betts and Rock Cartwright. There really are two sides to every story and multiple interpretations of how things went down.

Take Wednesday as an example. The CMB - collective media bozos, Ashburn chapter - pushed Coach Joe time and again about the arrival of TJ Duckett (not to be confused with DJ Duckett, who made a brief yet inspired appearance on this very blog yesterday), and he assured us time and again that Rock and Ladell had been briefed extensively about the trade Tuesday night, understood their place on the team, knew where they stood and were made to feel wanted.

But that's not what we heard from them. They were shocked and stunned. They said they were unsure and confused. They said they did not know what Duckett's role would be or why specifically he was acquired. They expressed some doubt over their future with the club.

So, when Gibbs spoke to us later Wednesday night, of course the CMB brought up the topic time and again, trying to clarify as much as possible. We probably inquired about it too much, because by the time I framed a question about the Duckett deal being a precursor to any a future trade involving a running back, he let me know it was the fourth time he had essentially addressed the question, and that all of the RBs - Portis, Duckett, Ladell, Betts - as well as FB Mike Sellers would make the team, and have a solid role with the club.

I know these coach-player conversations must always be difficult for all parties, and I can understand how things can be heard differently based on mindset, timing, etc. I don't think there's any blame to go around or anything like that. I just think it's an interesting study in human dynamics and interaction, because inevitably the reactions of the sides to the same conversation are different.

Coach Joe was pretty straightforward about carrying at least 5 RB/FBs, which would be roughly 10 percent of the opening day roster. And the implication was that all would be active, too, given they import to the team. Betts and Duckett are also in the final year of their deals, so who gets a long-term deal and who doesn't - could they both? - bears monitoring as well.

In the end, though, the Skins come out of loaded with talent if short on draft picks. That hasn't bothered them before and won't now, either.

By Jason La Canfora |  August 24, 2006; 11:30 AM ET
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I saw Gibbs snap at you on, which had the tape of that press conference in front of Redskins Park. Sure seemed like he was tired of answering all those questions!
How is his relationship towards you & the other beat writers?

Posted by: John | August 24, 2006 11:53 AM

I still question this move. I think Ladell is a solid runner, and I'd like the Skins to resign him. This trade, though, must put doubts in his mind about whether he's a valued back in Washington. I'm also concerned that Portis's injury is worse than we're being let on.

If Betts get banged up and can't play, of course, this trade looks genious. But if he stays healthy, and Portis isn't playing, you have to wonder why they'd trade for Duckett, if they already have Sellers. I guess the Skins just like to have all their bases covered. They need a contingency plan for their contingency plan.

Posted by: Colin | August 24, 2006 12:49 PM

What everyone is forgetting is that Duckett can kick. Puts the ball through the back of the endzone everytime. He can also play o-line at any position. What a huge pickup for us!

Posted by: G. Allen | August 24, 2006 01:24 PM

Is that G.Allen George "Macaca" Allen?
seriously, look at what was said about springs "minor" problem and what he says about it and the scar he displayed. Portis may not be ready for 9/11 or may be less than 100% for a good while. Every defender will be aiming at that shoulder. Duckett makes the team better with depth. That's the Ol' Coach Joe method. It may just also shake up the other running backs to push a little harder.

Posted by: jmsbh | August 24, 2006 01:43 PM

This kind of player coach exchange brings to mind Bryan Gumbell and his recent snap at Gene Upshaw. Bottom line in the NFL is that the players are fungible and their feelings are not very important except in the extremely short run of a season/game. By the by Jason, what do you think of Upshaw on a leash?

Posted by: Bridgewater, VA | August 24, 2006 03:07 PM

Gumbel can get away with depicting a black man on a white man's leash , but imagine a white guy making the same comment.
I guess we will see how much control the NFL exerts over its network employees. Could be an interesting portent for what will happen if the Redskins start losing and Riggins starts being very critical of the team on XXX ESPN , All Danny, All the time radio. Riggo has done well so far, but I wonder how long/short THAT leash will be. Stay tuned.

Posted by: jmsbh | August 24, 2006 03:55 PM

Riggo on a leash? that is not a sight for my eyes. But in reality that is the way of the world when money is involved. Hire me, I had better not bite you, unless it makes you money. Danny actually has more class than Gumbell - he just doesn't like another black man having more status than him.

Posted by: Bridgewater, VA | August 24, 2006 04:54 PM

Hey ya'll.

have to ask those questions. You guys want the best info, right? And it's a big part of his job to answer them and Joe knows that. He's great about it and you can ask him just about anything. Sure he might get a little tweaked, but I felt the need to pin down as much precise info about the ramifications of this trade as possible.

I have what I think is a pretty great relationship with the rest of the media clan (maybe they would say something different, hope not). Good group of people. Lot of fun to be around.

Feel free to ask anything, either on the blog or email and I'll do my best to answer.

Posted by: Jason La Canfora | August 24, 2006 05:26 PM

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