I was saddened the other day when I heard about the motorcycle accident involving the once-mighty Lavar Arrington. And while I was sour about the way in which he left the Redskins a couple summers back, I still haven't forgotten the five or six years where he was by far and away my favorite player in the NFL. So rather than think about the bad times, I think we should rehash the good memories of a Redskin great. Lavar probably needs some cheering up given the fact that this accident probably spells the end of his playing career. I actually know exactly where he got in the accident, it's an exit ramp that I drove on every day when I worked for Bowie. He either must have been going really fast or had no idea how to drive a motorcycle because that ramp is nothing too serious. It's really your standard ramp. But I figured I would relay to you some of my favorite LaVar moments (of course all of them were while he was in a Skins jersey, even though the leap was done as a Nittany Lion):
1) The Annihilation, December 10, 2000: Troy Aikman was supposed to go out in a blaze of glory. But then late in the 2000 season he decided to roll out to his right only to be met by a freight train named LaVar. Arrington just pummeled him, giving Aikman what would turn out to be a career-ending concussion. The love affair was on from there because executing the career of a beloved Cowboy puts you on the good side of any Skins fan.
He will forever be remembered for this.
2) The Interception, October 21, 2001: The Redskins were 0-5 under the Schottenheimer regime and it looked like a sixth loss was on the horizon. The team trailed 14-0 with just over 10 minutes to play at Fedex Field (just a reminder that Battey left this game early) when Lavar intercepted a Chris Weinke pass and returned it 67 yards. Rod Gardner (what happened to that guy?) then caught a 85-yard bomb from Skins QB Tony Banks (what happened to that guy?) and the Skins won in overtime on a Brett Conway field goal. After that the Skins reeled off four more wins and got themselves back to .500 when they beat the Eagles in Philly. They went 8-8 but if they had kept Marty around for another season it would have been playoffs in '02. They didn't keep Marty, though, and Steve Spurrier came in and we all know what happened there.
3) "The Assassination", December 29, 2002: It was Darrell Green's last game as a Redskins, it was in front of the home crowd and it was against the Cowboys. If the Redskins didn't win this game it would just be travesty. And luckily, they scrapped out a big time win, 20-14, but the highlight of the game was a hit laid on Emmitt Smith courtesy of Lavar. It was on one of those screen passes when the ball was thrown behind Emmitt and right as he turned to head upfield, Lavar came a callin'. Emmitt didn't even see it coming. And then after the game, Lavar even said to reporters that he "assasinated" Emmitt on that hit. On the radio call Sam Huff said, "He hit Emmitt so hard that Emmitt quivered."
There should be more listed up there, but to be honest after a successful three or four years Lavar really was a bust considering he was supposed to the face of the franchise for years to come. And don't get me wrong he had some other moments like a game-saving INT against the Rams in '03 when they were still "The Greatest Show on Turf" (I was at that game) and just two seasons ago when the Skins had that incredible win streak to end the season and get in the playoffs, Lavar had some HUGE tackles in the backfield against the Niners in a must-win situation. And we can't forget that 11-sack season he had where he led all non-defensive linemen in sacks. And there were also some nice hits against the Eagles, especially during those days where he would "spy" Donovan McNabb. For the record, he served that spy role about 6 or 7 times and only once do I remember him keeping McNabb remotely in check. It's probably part of the reason why I hate McNabb so much.
There was a time when hits like this were commonplace for Lavar.
I really truly believe Lavar would have ended up as one of the biggest stars in the league had the Skins kept the Marty regime in place. Because once they brought in Marvin Lewis to be defensive coordinator, it was all downhill from there. They never clicked and then Lavar started to get hurt and then he began bickering with The Snyder. When all was said done, Lavar had become a shell of his former self on the gridiron and there really was no reason for the Skins to keep him around. Kurt Schottenheimer (he was defensive coordinator under Marty) was the greatest thing to ever happen to Lavar.
But alas, it wasn't meant to be. But maybe, just maybe, we'll still get to see Lavar in those Eastern Motors commercials.
RIP Lavar Arrington 1999-2005