Not Bitter, Irv Has Other Fish To Fryar

Posted: October 06, 2000

Retiring from the Eagles and unretiring to become a Redskin didn't change Irving Fryar. He can still play. He hasn't lost much speed, if any. And he still speaks his mind when asked a question.

Fifteen minutes with Fryar this week was a headline-writer's dream. Fryar, an Eagle from 1996 to '98, returns to Veterans Stadium Sunday as a Washington starter and still a playmaker at age 38.

Fryar was thrust into a starting role when Michael Westbrook suffered a season-ending knee injury in preseason. The 17-year veteran has responded as expected, averaging 12.3 yards per reception on 16 catches through five games, second on the team behind running back Larry Centers (22-182).

Here are some nuggets from a wide-ranging Fryar teleconference with the Philly media:

* On why he retired: "I don't think people understand why I retired. They think I did it just to do it. I did it because the Eagles were going to cut me and I didn't want to shop myself around the league and wind up somewhere far away and so on. So, I decided to retire and take the job at Channel 6. I had to make a choice, and I think the people have been misinformed about the whole situation.

"People still ask me if I'm going to give the motorcycle back [that the Birds gave him for his retirement], which I did over a year ago."

* On any lingering resentment toward the Eagles: "I'm not going to get into that, because everything I say will be used against me. You have to let the past go. As far as how I feel about that, I just choose to keep that to myself."

* On the Eagles fans: "People there hate me, don't they? My last year there, they did. Why, I don't know. The only things I did wrong [in 1998] were try to play hurt when I shouldn't have, and I dropped a few balls. I dropped about 10 balls that year."

* On the Eagles' weakness at receiver since his departure: "They don't need me. I was told I wasn't good enough to play on that team, so I'll leave it at that."

* On recent Redskins addition Andre Reed, who received no interest from the Eagles after asking for his release by Denver: "Andre can play. He's come here and he's made a difference already for us. Any time you get a guy with his experience, who can still run a little bit, who is smart and has the savvy he has, he's going to come in and help right away."

* On what keeps him going strong at 38: "A lot of the negative talk about me, that's all. People always tell me I can't. Even when I was there, people told me I couldn't and that I [stunk] and I was no good."

He sure would look good wearing No. 86 for the Eagles.

Redskins miscellaneous

Last week: Toppled Tampa Bay, 20-17, in overtime on Michael Husted's 20-yard field goal, after Deion Sanders' 57-yard punt return. NFL rushing leader Stephen Davis (513 yards) totaled 141 yards on 28 carries.

Last year vs. Eagles: The Birds won the first meeting at the Vet, 35-28, after trailing, 14-3, and 21-13 at halftime. An 11-yard TD run by Eric Bieniemy was the game-winner in the fourth quarter. Davis trashed the Birds' defense for 122 yards on 25 carries and Brad Johnson threw for 313 yards, 152 of them to Westbrook on just four catches.

At Washington, Brett Conway's 27-yard field goal earned the 'Skins a 20-17 overtime victory.

Injury update

Tre Johnson, from Temple, likely will become the third huge loss because of injury, after tearing the medial collateral ligament in his left knee Sunday. The 'Skins previously lost Westbrook and starting center Cory Raymer to season-ending knee surgeries. Coach Norv Turner said the team would wait a couple of weeks to see how Johnson's knee responds to treatment before considering placing him on injured reserve.

Roster makeover

This 'Skins team bears little resemblance to the 1999 squad, thanks to 16 veteran free-agent additions, including starters Mark Carrier (FS), Jay Leeuwenburg (G), Bruce Smith (DE), Deion Sanders (CB/PR), kicker Husted and punter Tommy Barnhardt. Key backups include new additions Adrian Murrell (RB), Tyronne Drakeford (CB), Kevin Mitchell (LB), Nolan Harrison (DE) and backup quarterback Jeff George.

Top draft choices LaVar Arrington (LB, Penn State) and Chris Samuels (OT, Alabama) also have had immediate impact.

How big is this?

Only serious preseason dreamers could have imagined a pair of 3-2 teams squaring off Sunday at the Vet in Week 6. Norv Turner attempted to downplay the importance of this one.

"I never know how to answer that, because at the time, to both teams and coaches, it's critical and awfully important," Turner said. "But people talked about our Tampa game like that last week. But it's really not what you do with this game, it's what you do after.

"You can go into the game and win it, and if you go and lose two or three in a row, then it's meaningless. And if you win two or three in a row after that, then it wasn't as big an issue as everyone thought. It's one of the 16 and obviously, it's in our division. We've struggled in Philadelphia the last few years, so it's a big game for us."

No Rhodes

Ex-Eagles coach Ray Rhodes didn't wait to be asked. He approached publicist Doug Green on Monday and informed him that he did not wish to do any interviews with the Philadelphia media. The Opponent Page made a special request, anyway (I covered Rhodes' first year-and-a-half in Philly). Thanks, but no thanks, Rhodes relayed.

The reception for Rhodes' Vet return should be interesting. Something tells me it will be the usual Philly reception. Three letters.

Hall-of-Fame-bound Bird?

Redskin Irving Fryar is fifth on the all-time receptions list with 826 for 12,434 yards and 80 touchdowns. He appears headed for Canton if he ever stays retired. Two years ago, the Jobstown, N.J., resident said that if he is honored with a Hall of Fame induction someday, he would enter as an Eagle.

Despite the way his three seasons here ended, Fryar said that hasn't changed.

"That's the plan," he said. "As you know, things can change, so we'll have to see. But who knows if I get in there or not. I might not even get in there."

The pick

The Eagles haven't been 3-2 since 1996. The Opponent Page hasn't been 2-3 since about 1926.

Now there's a trend I can take to the bank. I smell a pair of .500 records.

Redskins 17, Eagles 16.

Send e-mail to mulligk@phillynews.com

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