In the weeks leading up to the big showdown between Redskins LB Jessie Armstead and his former team, the Giants, the Washington public relations staff came up very small. They instructed Armstead not to speak to any members of the New York media, and not to discuss his thoughts on the Giants with any members of the media.
Warpath correspondent Jody Foldesy was on hand when Armstead came as close to discussing his days in New York as he was allowed last week. Foldesy filed this report from Redskins camp:
Linebacker Jessie Armstead has defied expectations in his first season as a Washington Redskin, becoming a crucial contributor on a Pro Bowl-laden defense.
Armstead, of course, has five of the unit's 28 collective Pro Bowl appearances. But the critics last spring – and there were plenty of them – said his 2001 invitation was based on reputation rather than production. They believed Washington, which signed Armstead shortly after the Giants cut him on Feb. 28, was getting an over-the-hill player.
Instead, Armstead was the first of the Redskins' celebrated linebacker trio to pick up Marvin Lewis' scheme. And he has been a steady playmaker on a unit that has risen to No. 10 in the NFL after a rough start.
“We're all starting to jell together,” Armstead said at the season's midway mark, by which point he had 60 tackles (second on the club) and two sacks. “I think that's the best thing.
Everybody's starting to get on the same page. That's when a defense starts to define itself, when everybody knows what to do.”
Armstead made most of his strides during the preseason. Asked why he seemed to grasp the set so quickly, he reasoned that, at age 32, he shouldn't have much trouble learning defenses.
“I can play any kind of defense,” he said. “That's all I've been playing my [whole] life, linebacker. So there aren't too many situations you can put me in where I won't understand the defense. . . . If you can't learn something in 20 years, and know it to a 'T,' then there's something wrong with [you].”
On Nov. 17, Armstead faces his old team, the Giants, a subject he wasn't allowed to discuss. However, he tried to make it clear that he harbors no ill will toward the New York area, where he played from 1993 to 2001.
“There's nothing I can say that's really negative about New York,” Armstead said. “The fans were great to me, the media . . . everyone was great to me.”
Just don’t even think for a minute that Armstead is including his former coaches and management when he uses the word ‘everyone.’
This game should be one to remember.