"I didn't make it in baseball because I tried to pull the sliders, it's that simple," he said.
"They played me in the outfield, then they decided to make a third baseman out of me, even though I didn't have a third baseman's quick hands. In July of my third year I simply felt that I'd had it, and I walked away from it. I went back to my parents' house in Southern California for a week and just did nothing. It was the worst period in my life. I guess you could say I was going through a deep depression. I was angry that I couldn't perform in what I liked to do best."
Eventually he decided to give football another shot, and he went back to UCLA and began working out. When he clocked a 4.65 40, he became a definite prospect.
The Redskins are 14-3 in Schroeder's 17 games as a starter, 15-3 if you count his dramatic debut last year, when Theismann broke his leg against the Giants and Schroeder came in and pulled the game out. He's not a high-percentage passer; he likes yardage in big chunks. He's a flamethrower, and he has a lot of passes dropped. Against the Cowboys on Sunday he made three plays that pretty well express his philosophy.
The Cowboys, desperate to help a pass rush that was getting nothing from the front four, threw three serious blitzes at Schroeder. Disdaining the conventional blitz control passes—the short stuff to a "hot receiver" or the safety valves to a back—Schroeder went deep on his first pass and got a 71-yard TD to tight end Clint Didier. He treated the second blitz to an 11-yard TD to Gary Clark, and the third time the Cowboys tried it, early in the third quarter, Schroeder went up on top again, 35 yards to Clark.
Clark, a dazzling little wideout from Jacksonville of the USFL, is a rare and sure-handed combination of deep threat and possession receiver. He's having a Pro Bowl season. The flanker, Art Monk, has been there the last two seasons. Didier is the NFL's leading long-ball tight end, with a 20.2 average. Four of the Hogs up front have been to the Pro Bowl, along with the tailback, George Rogers. No team has as much offense.
Against the Cowboys the defense was just as impressive. Dexter Manley is also having an All-Pro year. Right now he's one of the top three defensive ends in the NFL, along with Howie Long and Rulon Jones. This will not sit well with Manley haters who shrink from his boastful, flamboyant style.
The Cowboys started off by keeping Herschel Walker in to cut-block Manley, neatly removing Herschel from the offense. In Dallas's 30-6 win over Washington in October, Walker gained 200 yards rushing and pass receiving. On Sunday he got 18. Maybe it was because Walker came into the Washington game with a sore knee and ankle, and since he wasn't going to be very productive anyway, the Cowboys felt they might as well use him against Manley. Or maybe it was just because Herschel was a good cut-blocker. Whatever the reason, the scheme died after Manley got the first of his two sacks. Fullback Timmy Newsome took over as the extra blocker on Manley, then the tight end helped out, then the guard. At times they tripled him. Finally the Skins showed what they could do if they really tried, when they sent right linebacker Rich Milot blitzing clean through the gap.
"We had a whole package of blitzes and stuff to use today," free safety Curtis Jordan said, "but we didn't need to. We could afford to play 'em straight up, that's how good the rush was from our front four. Dexter's been playing out of his mind this year."
"I spent practically a whole career being immature, not taking care of myself on or off the field," Manley says. "That's ended now."