Wherever they build it, the players will come


TAMPA, Fla. -- The Washington Redskins players don't seem to care where the team builds its new stadium.

"Wherever they build it, I'm going to play, man, it doesn't matter. They can put it in Lorton. Tell us where to go, and we'll drive there and play," offensive lineman Raleigh McKenzie said yesterday in reaction to reports that owner Jack Kent Cooke is talking about building a stadium in Laurel.

If they had their choice, though, the Redskins seem to prefer keeping the stadium in the District of Columbia. Most of them live near the team's practice facility in Ashburn, Va.

"I'd like for it to be in D.C.; it's tradition. Like anything else, you've just got to adapt from change and go from there. It'd take a little getting used to. Going out somewhere else instead of staying in Washington, but other teams are like that. New York or whatever playing in Jersey. It'd be a little different for us," McKenzie said.

Some of the players hadn't heard about the Laurel proposal.

Offensive lineman Ray Brown, one of the players who hadn't heard, said, "Laurel?"

He added, "I guess we have to move to Maryland. That's amazing. That's the first I've heard of that. No wonder Baltimore didn't get a team; they're moving us to Maryland. I've got to get home and read about that. It's interesting."

For the players, the key isn't where the stadium is, it's where the practice facility is. If they built a practice facility for the team at Laurel, they'd have to move from Northern Virginia.

If they keep the practice facility in Ashburn, Va., a stadium in Laurel would mean a longer drive only on the 10 days they play home games.

The team is only in its second year in its new practice facility, and there has been no indication that Cooke would move from there.

The official Redskins response to the report was no comment, and when a team official heard quarterback Mark Rypien being asked about it, he indicated Rypien should duck the question. Rypien laughed and added, "You're treading some water here that's uncharted."

Cooke did not attend yesterday's game, and the Redskins officials attending the game knew about it only from what they'd heard in news reports.

General manager Charley Casserly said he had no knowledge of it.

Cooke was at Redskin Park last week and said his first choice was to build it in near RFK Stadium in Washington but said he was looking at another piece of land near the complex in Northern Virginia as an alternative. He didn't mention Maryland at that time.

Cooke signed a non-binding agreement in February to build a stadium near RFK Stadium, but approval has been bogged down. Cooke abandoned a deal he made with Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder to build a stadium near Alexandria when it ran into opposition in the Virginia legislature.

Wyche has official question

When Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Sam Wyche went to the podium and put a microphone on his shirt, he said, "Questions," without making his usual opening comments. When reporters hesitated because they were expecting Wyche to make a statement, Wyche took the microphone off and started to leave the podium. He returned when reporters started asking questions.

Wyche called on the media to make a "full investigation" of the officials' calls in the game, although he didn't specify which ones. A holding call in the fourth quarter pushed the Bucs from the Washington 1 to the 14, and they wound up not scoring on the drive.

Official explanations

Referee Gordon McCarter gave explanations for three of the most controversial calls:

* On picking up the flag when a pass interference was called on the Redskins' Brad Edwards in the first quarter: "That was not pass interference. The side judge ruled unnecessary roughness, but three other officials had a more advantageous angle."

* On Rich Gannon's being called for an illegal pass in the first quarter that nullified a sack: "If the quarterback leaves the pocket, he is then free to throw the ball away."

* On putting two seconds on the clock at the end of the first half to allow Chip Lohmiller to try a field goal: "The quarterback was calling time out, and when I heard the whistle, there were two seconds remaining."

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