Shana­han: Fran­chise QB top pri­or­ity in off­sea­son

Man­ning, Rams deal ex­plained

The Washington Times Daily - - Weather - BY RICH CAMP­BELL

PALM BEACH, FLA. | Mike Shana­han made it his mis­sion this win­ter to find the Washington Red­skins a fran­chise quar­ter­back. Af­ter two straight last­place fin­ishes and way more turnovers last sea­son than he cares to re­mem­ber, it be­came the coach’s top pri­or­ity.

The quest has taken him all over the coun­try. It’s not over yet, but Shana­han at least knows he’ll draft his man April 26. The thought of se­lect­ing ei­ther Bay­lor’s Robert Grif­fin III or Stan­ford’s An­drew Luck had Shana­han beam­ing dur­ing the coaches’ break­fast at the NFL’S an­nual meet­ings Wed­nes­day.

“It’s the dif­fer­ence in your or­ga­ni­za­tion, win­ning and los­ing,” he said. “It’s big.”

In his first public com­ments since trad­ing three first-round draft picks and this year’s sec­on­drounder to the St. Louis Rams to move up in the draft, Shana­han expressed con­fi­dence in both prospects and ex­plained how he con­tin­ued to pur­sue free agent Pey­ton Man­ning af­ter the trade.

“When I think back about when the Bron­cos got John El­way, I don’t think any­body looks back and says, ‘ Hey, did we over­pay?’ “Shana­han said. “To get a guy like that doesn’t hap­pen very of­ten. So to get a guy that you feel is a fran­chise quar­ter­back, I think you’ve re­ally upped your or­ga­ni­za­tion over

“I was kind of a brainiac when it came to the game,” Ryp­ien said. “The X’s and O’s came eas­ily to me. I re­ally have to strug­gle now. . . . It seems like I’m learn­ing the game again which once came so eas­ily.”

Dur­ing a 25-minute con­ver­sa­tion Wed­nes­day, Ryp­ien paused in mid­sen­tence try­ing to re­call the year he ab­sorbed a dizzy­ing hit against the Min­nesota Vik­ings. He re­mem­bered other de­tails from the game, which was played in Oc­to­ber 1992. But the year was like a black hole.

Adding to Ryp­ien’s con­cern was last year’s sui­cide of Rick Ryp­ien, his cousin who suf­fered con­cus­sions as an NHL en­forcer.

So, Ryp­ien filled out a sur­vey on head in­juries from the NFL Alumni As­so­ci­a­tion two weeks ago and was con­nected with Craig Mit­nick, co-coun­sel with Gene Locks in the suit.

Ryp­ien still loves foot­ball. He would still play again know­ing the risks. But he wished the NFL was more forth­com­ing about the long-term con­se­quences of head in­juries. He wants the game to be safer, where health mat­ters more than wins.

“We need to take care of our peo­ple,” Ryp­ien said, “not look af­ter how much money we’re go­ing to make based on putting peo­ple out there in very pre­car­i­ous, scary po­si­tions and re­ally en­gag­ing them in a life-threat­en­ing prac­tice.”

Four­teen other ex-red­skins also are part of the law­suit, one of dozens filed against the NFL over head in­juries. Mit­nick’s group rep­re­sents more than 550 ex-play­ers who have sued the NFL.

“We prob­a­bly put up a good front,” Ryp­ien said. “We want to make it look like things are OK. But each one of those in­di­vid­u­als, like my­self, has got is­sues go­ing on and things that are alarm­ing.

“I worry about 10 years from now.”

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