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The NFL
Peter King
December 11, 2000
King for a Day Kordell Stewart led the Steelers to a surprise win over the Raiders and won over Pittsburgh fans—for now
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December 11, 2000

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One of his most impressive plays came during a fourth-quarter drive that did not lead to a score. On third-and-one from the Oakland 47, he rolled right, was pressured by two rushers, waited, waited and finally lasered a pass into the gut of wideout Hines Ward, who had Woodson draped on his back. First down. "Kordell," said Ward, "is starting to throw the ball consistently where only we can catch it."

Trying to explain his journey back to respectability, Stewart said, "Sometimes you get caught up in playing the way you think a coach wants you to play. Now I'm just going out and playing for myself and for my team. I'm doing something I love."

He does not have a lock on the quarterback job. Not by any stretch. "But that will come over time," Cowher said after the game. "I think he's going to get there."

Washington Shake-up
Robiskie: Right Man for the Job

Redskins passing-game coordinator Terry Robiskie could have bitten his tongue when team owner Daniel Snyder told him in the wee hours of Monday that he was probably going to fire coach Norv Turner and replace him with 69-year-old business crony Pepper Rodgers, who coached at Kansas, UCLA and Georgia Tech in the 1970s and later in the USFL and CFL. Robiskie could have wished Snyder and Rodgers well and said he would do whatever he could to help Washington win. But that is not Robiskie's way.

"I am heartbroken," he told Snyder, and then added that the owner was making a big mistake. Robiskie said the Redskins wouldn't play for Rodgers, and according to a source told Snyder that he wouldn't call plays for the new coach. Surprised, Snyder sent Robiskie away. Later that morning Snyder changed his mind and gave the job to the 46-year-old Robiskie, a former NFL running back and a career assistant who, as a black man, has been outspoken in the fight to get minorities more head-coaching opportunities.

Robiskie's candor prevented Snyder from making a terrible mistake. Although Snyder hired Rodgers as vice president of football operations later on Monday, at least Rodgers won't be trying to make a postseason run with players who would have had no respect for him. Robiskie already has that respect, and he isn't afraid to put the hammer down on immature or underachieving players. He followed brooding wide receiver Michael Westbrook out of the team's complex in 1998 after a verbal confrontation and wouldn't stop until the player looked him in the eye. "I'm going to coach you to be a good player," Robiskie told Westbrook, "but I'm not going to coach you the way you want to be coached. I'm going to coach you the right way" Westbrook came around. Last year he caught 65 passes for 1,191 yards and nine touchdowns. He went on injured reserve after Washington's second game this season.

Robiskie has no guarantee to be kept as coach beyond the remainder of this season, but he believes that if the Skins (7-6) play consistent offense in their last three games, they can not only make the playoffs but also be a force in them. "I will be a communicator, and I will be truthful with the players," he said. "The notoriety and money have changed players, but I believe they can be coached. They have to be kicked in the butt, but they also have to be hugged."

An Early Take on the Draft
Who's No. 1? Who Knows?

"The worst thing to have in [next April's] draft is a top 10 pick," one veteran NFL scout said last week "There's no sure thing." Take Mississippi running back Deuce McAllister. A speedy, versatile 6'1", 222-pounder with great hands, he would seem to be a good candidate for the top choice. However, he's had clavicle, hamstring and ankle injuries this year so his durability is a concern.

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