CARLISLE, Pa. -- Carl Banks keeps saying he's not bitter about the way he left the New York Giants, and so it is easy to think he's protesting just a bit too much.
"I don't have any bitterness. . . . I can't be bitter. . . . I can't harbor any bitterness," he said at various times yesterday while discussing his move from the Giants to the Washington Redskins last month.
Banks finally did concede, "If there's anything I could change, it would have been the way it all ended. I don't regret that it ended. I'm here with a good team."
Banks spent nine years with the Giants, winning a pair of Super Bowl rings and beating the Redskins 10 times in 11 tries during one stretch.
The first step in his road to Washington was taken when the price for a team to name a linebacker a transition player was raised from $1.6 to $2.2 million. The Giants declined to go that high, revoking Banks' transition status and making him a free agent with the right to shop around.
What happened next is a matter of some controversy. The Giants said they were still interested in him, but Banks contends Harry Hulmes, the team's assistant general manager, said the team wanted him only if he didn't get other offers.
Although the Giants have denied that, Banks said, "They'll deny it to their dying day, but I was there in my agent's office when it happened. My agent asked him again, 'What are you saying, if nobody wants him, that's the only way they want him back?' He asked him twice. I was left on the streets."
He wasn't there long. The Redskins snapped him up for a three-year deal at $1.8 million a year.
As a result, Banks thinks that Giants general manager George Young is going to have to do some adjusting to the new free-agent market.
"Free agency is something he's been resisting for a long time. He hated it in basketball. He hated it in baseball so I'm sure he's not thrilled about having it in football," he said.
Despite those comments, Banks added, "I'm not going to bash George Young. He's a good guy who does his job well. I have a lot of respect for him. He's a data bank of knowledge when it comes to football. I used to go to George and ask him any question and he'd have an answer to it. Nine times out of 10, he's right. He thinks he's right even when he's wrong sometimes. I think sometimes his intelligence does get in the way of his common sense. That's not a knock on him."
Young did not return calls to his office at training camp yesterday.
Banks also wasn't fond of the regime of former coach Ray Handley and the read-and-react defense of then-assistant coach Rod Rust.
"It just didn't allow for the same aggressive type of play the Giants defense was used to," he said.
Banks is now happy to be with the Redskins, but said he doesn't think his career needs to be rejuvenated.
"My career wasn't stagnant. By no means is this a shot in the arm. I'm going to come here to contribute," he said.
New coach Richie Petitbon figures Banks' arrival is long overdue.
"He's a real class individual, a very intelligent, hard worker. He probably should have been a Redskin for 10 years," he said.
Banks, who will replace Wilber Marshall in the Redskins' lineup and will wear the same number (58) he wore as a Giant, said: "He's a great linebacker and I don't mind wearing 58 because he took his number and his style to Houston and I brought my number and my style to Washington. Our styles are different, but our contributions will be about the same."
Now that Banks, who will turn 31 on Aug. 29, is in Washington, he wants to stay awhile.
When he was asked how long he wants to play, he replied, "Probably until they throw me out."