Despite slump, Rypien is not crying boohoo QB's game plan: Just have fun


WASHINGTON -- Quarterback Mark Rypien almost couldn't believe the sound he heard before the Washington Redskins' first home game last month.


"I didn't know if somebody had come on the field outside of myself," Rypien said at the time. "I really couldn't understand how I deserved that. I was shocked. Maybe I should not have reacted the way I did, but I'm human, too. I guess I was a little hurt in that situation."

Rypien reacted by criticizing the fans after the 24-17 victory over the Atlanta Falcons, although he apologized the next day.

A lot has changed since. Rypien said he won't be shocked if he's booed tonight, when the Redskins face the Denver Broncos at RFK Stadium.

It's his good fortune that it's not the offense's turn to be introduced, so the fans can't target him before the game, but he'll hear it if he gets off to a poor start.

That's because the Super Bowl MVP had a nightmarish game in Phoenix last Sunday, throwing two third-down passes that Robert Massey intercepted and ran back for touchdowns, as the Cardinals came back from a 24-6 deficit to win, 27-24.

Coach Joe Gibbs has rallied behind Rypien, saying that it was ridiculous even to ask if he was sticking with his quarterback.

The fans don't think it's a ridiculous idea. They've flooded talk shows with calls for Rypien's head, and, in a Washington Times telephone poll, 53.8 percent wanted him benched.

The question tonight is how will Rypien handle this adversity.

If nothing else, he's talking a good game. He's talking about having fun.

"It's time to go out and have fun and let [things] fall where they may. That's the part of it that may be overlooked, the fun aspect," he said.

His message is that he's not letting what happened last week tear him up.

"It's not going to do you any good sitting around and worrying about it," he said.

He even said he's not worried about the fans' reaction tonight.

"I'm just going to go out there and play ball and let it all hang out. I can't worry about something going wrong," he said.

"I've been there before. I've been there when adversity struck. It's just working yourself out of it."

He was benched for fumbling in 1989, was injured in 1990 and had frustrating losses at Dallas, Indianapolis and San Francisco (in a playoff game) after he returned from the injury.

Rypien came back from that adversity to go 17-2 and win the Super Bowl last year, but his holdout for a $3 million contract and his poor showing in Dallas in the opener quickly soured the impatient Redskins fans.

There's likely to be more of a burden on Rypien now because the injuries are mounting up. The Redskins have lost cornerback Darrell Green for the season and center Jeff Bostic may not be back. Green's backup, A.J. Johnson, won't start so they're down to Alvoid Mays starting on one corner. They've also had to reshuffle their line with Bostic out.

But if Rypien can bounce back and carry the team, the Redskins still can salvage a lot out of this season.

A victory tonight would leave them just one game out of first place in the NFC in the wake of the Philadelphia Eagles' loss to the Kansas City Chiefs yesterday. And they play host to the Eagles next Sunday.

The Broncos present an intriguing challenge. They have a 4-1 record and they have John Elway, but they're 25th on offense, 20th on defense and three of their victories came over teams with losing records.

"We're the worst of the 4-1 teams," Elway said with a smile.

Elway, incidentally, expects to be booed by the Washington fans on the road.

"If I'm not booed [on the road], I think there's something wrong," he said. "My teammates laugh about it. I'm the guy they love to hate."

NOTES: WR Art Monk has 813 catches and needs six to tie and seven to break Steve Largent's career record of 819. The Redskins plan to activate OL Mo Elewonibi, who's never played in a regular-season game, from IR. They also could bring back DL Eric Williams, who was injured in August, but they may give him another week to rest.

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