Redskins Hog Heaven enjoyed a brief conversation with NFL Hall of Famer John Riggins, courtesy of the Van Heusen Pro Football Hall Of Fame Fans Choice campaign. We asked the questions. The Diesel answered. Note: my transcribing skills are not top-notched, so some of Riggins' answers are paraphrased without sacrificing accuracy.
You are the head coach of the Washington Redskins. What do you do to win nine games this season?
First, I would fire Albert Haynesworth.
The die is cast for the talent on the field right now. There is not a lot of talent on the offense, so there is not much you can do. Miami, Atlanta and Cleveland and other improving teams are doing it with young coaches, young talent and through the draft.
The Redskins don't seem to have an improvement plan. They go for the big fix.
Do you think Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen were aware of the talent level when they arrived here?
Shanahan and Allen were aware of the talent level. I don't believe they are as independent as they were told when they were hired. I don't buy that the owner is as hands-off as we are led to believe.
(Riggins suspects that Shanahan would not have gone along with trading a second round pick for Donovan McNabb unless influenced by the owner.)
Would you want to play for Mike Shanahan?
No, I would not. Shanahan's treatment of Albert Haynesworth did not impress me. Organized Team Activities (OTAs) are voluntary activities under the Collective Bargaining Agreement. There was no reason for Haynesworth to be singled out the way he was for skipping the OTAs.
Jeremy Jarmon attended the OTAs and mini-camp, but did not participate due to injury, but you never heard anything about him having to pass a conditioning test.
How would Joe Gibbs have handled Haynesworth?
Joe will have talked to him. No one is more dominant than Haynesworth when he wants to play, but he is dominant when he wants to be. No team can use that kind of player.
How would you feel about an 18-game regular season if you were still playing?
I would not be for it. All you are doing is getting rid of two preseason games, but it means more wear and tear on the body. Teams may need a bigger roster to account for that.
Name strength and a weakness on the Redskins offense.
[Pause] There are no real strengths on the offense. The weakest part is the offense's third-down efficiency.
Same question for the defense.
The blitz package can be a strength when it brings pass pressure. I am surprised that rushing defense can be on the weak side.
Some of my readers wish you were still with the team. Do you see yourself in a coaching or front office role with the Redskins?
Clinton Portis is on the verge of breaking your team rushing record. Are you concerned?
It doesn't make any difference. It's not as if I set the league record for rushes. More power to him.
What do you want our readers to know about the Van Heusen Pro Football Hall Of Fame vote?
It's a great forum to support the former players of the Burgundy and Gold in an interactive format at http://www.fanschoice.com/sweepstakes.php. Grass root support might influence the Pro Football Hall Of Fame voters. (Fanchoice.com is not affiliated with the NFL). Buffalo Bills fans are very active, but it's early. We need Redskins fans to turn out for former Redskins Doug Williams, Gary Clark, Dexter Manly and Charles Mann.
Participants can win prizes that may include a Super Bowl event.
Some of our readers wondered how to reach you for personal appearances.
Speak with Tod Castleberry at 301-529-8377.
John Riggins scored 79 touchdowns and gained 7,472 yards in nine seasons with the Redskins. His career totals are 104 touchdowns and 11,352 yards. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1992. I still cheer for Riggins whenever I see the video of Riggins' run in Super Bowl 17. I yell RUNNNNN as though I'm seeing it for the very first time.