THE NEXT BRADSHAW? Rypien is eager to repeat, grab spot alongside super few

MINNEAPOLIS — MINNEAPOLIS -- Let's call the roll of the great quarterbacks of the Super Bowl era.

Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Mark Rypien . . .


Mark Rypien?

He's not yet in the league with Montana and Bradshaw -- the only quarterbacks to win four Super Bowls -- but he made it obvious yesterday that his goal is to get there.


Flush from being named the MVP of Super Bowl XXVI for his 292-yard passing effort in the Washington Redskins' 37-24 victory over the Buffalo Bills, Rypien talked about trying to do more than simply repeat.

He talked about putting together a string of consistent seasons that would put him in the Montana and Bradshaw class.

"For me, the bigger objective out there is to come back and put together three, four or five years of consistency," Rypien said at a news conference yesterday. "I think if I can be able to do that down the road here, [I'll be able to] become a guy like a Joe Montana, a Terry Bradshaw, guys who were able to do that on a consistent basis."

That was typical of the self-confidence that Rypien never lost when he was going through the tough seasons when he was injured in 1988 and 1990 and benched for fumbling in 1989.

He's not only talking about going back to the Super Bowl, but doing it several times.

"All of us like to think we're able to do [that]. . . Now, we're on a different level. For five or six months, we can walk with our heads up. . . [We want] to get back there again and again and again," he said.

The first goal, though, isn't repeating, but simply posting a winning season.

Two NFC East teams -- the New York Giants and the Redskins -- have won four of the past six Super Bowls. But the Giants (Super Bowls winners in the 1986 and 1990 seasons) and the Redskins (1987) failed to post winning seasons as defending champions. The last time the Redskins were defending champions, they went 7-9 in 1988. It was the only losing record Gibbs has had in 11 seasons as Washington head coach.


Gibbs said one difference this time is that Rypien will give him a stable quarterback situation. At 29, he's just starting to reach his peak.

By contrast, in 1988, Doug Williams was near the end of the line and went down early in the year with an appendectomy. Rypien made his debut, played four games and was knocked out with a shoulder injury, and Williams was rushed back.

"We had an unsettled quarterback situation with Doug being an older guy, and I think hopefully now we've got that [settled]," he said.

When Gibbs did have a settled quarterback situation, the Redskins made back-to-back appearances in the 1982-83 seasons with Joe Theismann, although they lost the Super Bowl the second time to the Los Angeles Raiders.

Gibbs said: "I've been sold on Ryp as a player for three years. The problem was that he'd been hurt. There was a rotation going on with him getting hurt and us playing other people."

Although there were reports the Redskins were interested in getting the Denver Broncos' John Elway, Gibbs said: "I don't think anybody would take that very seriously. You can't go get quarterbacks in this league who are running teams. You'd have to give everything you have away."


Gibbs now hopes it's some of his opponents who face unsettled quarterback situations.

"For about five years, every time we lined up against Philadelphia, it was [Randall] Cunningham. Every time it was the Giants, it was [Phil] Simms," he said. "I'm hoping now that we're the ones that have the stable quarterback, and I can spend a few years with those other guys sweating about who's going to play quarterback. I think the quarterback thing will help us."

Cunningham was injured in the first game last season, and Simms was benched, although he finished the year when Jeff Hostetler got hurt.

Gibbs also said that Rypien has charisma.

Rypien's appeal, or lack thereof, has been an issue since an advertising agency executive was quoted last week as saying that Rypien wouldn't get many endorsements because he's an average-looking guy with a funny haircut who has no charisma.

"I think you all give Ryp a bad rap like you give me a bad rap," Gibbs said. "He's got a good funny bone. He gets a little tense in front of you guys [reporters]. I don't blame him. You guys never laugh [at Gibbs' jokes]. That's one of my complaints about you guys."


Rypien said: "I have my own way about myself. What an ad agency says about me doesn't really matter. What my family and friends and my wife and kids think about me is the main thing. . . I don't think I'm going to do any Jockey underwear commercials or anything like that."

When Rypien was asked if he's interested in endorsements, he said: "If something that comes up is lucrative, I'm not stupid. I was born at night, but I wasn't born last night. If an opportunity arises and I get a chance to do something, I'm willing to do anything."

Rypien doesn't have to worry about money, because his gamble on a one-year contract paid off. He settled for a one-year deal with a $1.25 million base salary ($1.5 million including bonuses), but now he's due to move up into the $3 million neighborhood -- if not higher.

Three quarterbacks -- Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins, Boomer Esiason of the Cincinnati Bengals and Montana of the San Francisco 49ers -- are listed by the NFL Players Association as being at an average of $3 million or above, although Esiason has said the figure is incorrect.

Rypien brushed off any suggestion that there could be a problem getting him signed.

"The organization has treated me very fairly," he said. "I don't see any problems at all."


Cornerback Darrell Green and offensive tackle Jim Lachey are two other big-money players whose contracts have expired. And contracts are part of the problems a defending champion faces.

"You have trouble getting players signed. Everybody starts thinking they're better than what they are. The way other people look at you [changes]. They definitely want a chunk of you," Gibbs said.

Rypien, though, sounds as if he can't wait to face every challenge.