Campbell: “It’s an awkward situation”
Redskins QB Jason Campbell spoke publicly this morning for the first time since the draft. After all the hoopla surrounding the Redskins’ interest in drafting USC quarterback Mark Sanchez, Campbell is still Washington’s undisputed starter after the NY Jets drafted Sanchez.
Campbell admitted that things are awkward with the front office because he met with owner Dan Snyder and executive vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato after the Redskins almost traded for Jay Cutler, and then the team proceded to pursue drafting Mark Sanchez.
Campbell, to his credit, continues to handle this situation with immense class. He wouldn’t say whether the ordeal of the last month will affect his desire to remain with the Redskins after his contract expires at the end of 2009. He said he’s entirely focused on the 2009 season.
Here’s the full transcript of his 9-minute Q&A session.
Q: What was this weekend like for you?
A: It’s all part of the process. I’ve been hearing about it all week. Actually, Thursday I was out eating and before I really knew anything about them pursuing him really hard. At the same time, I know it’s a process. It’s the nature of the NFL. To me, I was always staying positive and just moving forward regardless of what happen.
Q: Did you follow the draft on Saturday? What was your reaction when you saw Mark Sanchez wasn’t coming here?
A: I saw a little bit of it, but actually I was just kind of hanging out. People was calling me and everything. I kind of kept the phone off for just a second and then I cut it back on later on.
Q: Had you and [agent] Joel [Segal] talked about alternatives had they made that deal?
A: You know, there were certain things we discussed, but nothing was written in stone or anything. Through the whole thing I never commented on anything. I was just staying quiet through the whole situation to let things play out. I was just sitting back watching and waiting to see what happens. At the same time, I hadn’t said anything or had anything written in stone.
Q: Is it hard not to feel hurt or disrespected or anything like that throughout all this?
A: Throughout this it taught me a lot. It taught me a lot about the NFL, it taught me a lot about staying on top of things year in and year out. For the most part, I tried to sit back and put it all together. One thing I was kind of upset about is that it makes you feel like you’re a bad quarterback or you’re someone who’s not wanted. At the same time, it makes you a stronger person. It makes you a stronger quarterback. Through all of this I think it’s going to help my process.
Q: Is this part different, though, because with the Cuter thing, you could say, ‘At least I’m going somewhere to start, and they’re bringing in a Pro Bowler.’ It looks like they wanted to start over here. Was that a little bit of a shock?
A: It was definitely a little bit of a shock because we started off strong last season. I wish we could have finished a lot stronger. But coming back this season, we got some guys like with Devin and Malcolm, some guys that I feel like having a year in the NFL last year will help their process this year and will help us go as an offense. With Derrick Dockery back, that’s big. We’re trying to move forward in a lot of ways. But going through that process definitely was a shock.
Q: With it being the last year of your contract, is it going to be hard to go into camp wondering ‘What are they [owner Dan Snyder and executive vice president Vinny Cerrato] thinking?’
A: It won’t be hard just because my whole mindset is moving on. And those guys that I’m on the field with day in and day out, they’re counting on me to be there for them and counting on me to do my job to the best of my ability. Who knows? Maybe going through something like this will bring us closer together as a unit and make us all work that much harder for each other and make things happen a lot more this season. To that aspect, I know there’s a lot going on this season as far as you’re talking about contract-wise, you’re talking about trying to get to the playoffs. In that aspect, we know there’s a lot ahead of us. I feel like, for me personally, I’m not going to hold any grudges. It’s just not fair to my teammates. It’s not fair to the people who support me. I’m ready to move forward and have one of my best years.
Q: Will this affect your decision to possibly come back next season after your contract expires?
A: Honestly, I’m just taking it one game at a time. I feel like having a great year and then sitting down at the end of the year, or whenever they want to sit down, then you start to discuss those things. Right now it’s all a process. Everything that happened with Cutler, and you moved on from that. Everything that happened with Sanchez talk, now you move on from that. Now you’re in the next phase of your process, and that’s trying to prepare your mind and your body for mini camp and OTAs.
Q: You would trust them enough that if they came to you and wanted to give you an extension, you would want to come back here?
A: As a competitor, you’re always competing. Before I can even get to that standpoint, we’ve got to go out and produce this season and put up great numbers and have a great year. And then when that time comes, we kind of discussed this between me and coach and Vinny and Snyder after the Cutler deal, things that may take place. That said, right now my main focus is starting out strong.
Q: You mentioned the meeting you had with Cerrato and Snyder. Did that go for naught now?
A: It’s an awkward situation just because after the Cutler year, we did sit down and talk. And then the Sanchez talk came up. You don’t know how much of it is true and how much of it isn’t. Through the whole thing, you never know what’s really going on and what’s really not going on. My mindset was always no matter what, I’m going to make sure I’m prepared for both scenarios.
Q: Do you feel like they were being honest with you?
A: In this business, it’s tough. Like I said, we had our meeting and what we discussed was between us. Right now, I’m just preparing for mini-camp.
Q: What kind of relationship do you think you have now with Cerrato and Snyder?
A: You always keep a professional relationship no matter what because what we do affects a lot of lives and a lot of people. There are fans that are counting on us to do certain jobs and to bring success back to the town. You don’t have any grudges in that aspect because you’re not affecting yourself, you’re affecting all the people around you. That wouldn’t be fair.
Q: Has it been tough to say and do the right thing?
A: I always look at it as through the fire, something great has got to come out of it. With me, if I would have acted rebellious or anything, that only would have made the situation a lot worse. Then it would have affected a lot more people than just myself. I just don’t feel like that’s right. I feel like those guys that I work with every day, lifting weights and sweating, and then the fans that still support me, you’ve got good fan support.
Q: That’s part of your personality, but did you also look at how the Cutler situation went in Denver? He took a lot of heat for how he handled that.
A: Everything we do, you’re always learning from certain situations. But at the end of the day, I’m just going to be through I am through the whole process. I’m not going to try to imitate someone. I’m just going to handle it the way I think I should handle it.
Q: To clarify, if you were not part of a trade to get Sanchez, would you have asked for one today?
A: No comment. (smiles)
Campbell spoke to a few reporters this morning at his annual charity golf tournament. The Jason Campbell Leukemia Golf Classic at Lowes Island Golf Club in Potomac Falls, Va., benefits The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). Campbell believes the event, which includes an auction, will raise approximately $200,000.
"Sometimes we tend to take like and the things we do in life for granted," Campbell said. "But you look at a kid like Sey-J, who has leukemia, it’s a great opportunity for us to get out and support a great cause and give money to the people that acutally need it."