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Redskins Players Reflect On Turner Era

Surprisingly, there are seven Redskins on the roster who played for Norv Turner when he coached in Washington from 1994-2000. It's a list of Pro Bowlers and cagey veterans, some of whom received their first extensive playing time under Turner.

LaVar Arrington, Ray Brown, Jon Jansen, Cory Raymer, Chris Samuels, Mike Sellers and James Thrash all played for Turner in Washington.

Turner, of course, is now the head coach of the Oakland Raiders. With the Redskins set to face the Oakland Raiders this Sunday, players were asked to discuss their memories of playing for Turner.

Raymer started 45-of-47 games at center under Turner from 1995-2000.

"Norv was the person from the team who called me on draft day [in 1995], so I'll always be grateful for that," said Raymer, who was selected by Turner and the Redskins in the second round (37th overall) that year. "He had a great offensive background and we learned quite a bit from him. We had a young group on the offensive line and between Norv and [former offensive line coach] Russ Grimm, we were able to grasp the concepts.

"I have nothing but great respect for Norv. I knew once he left here that he would go back to being a coordinator, then come back and get a shot again as a head coach. Here he is with the Raiders."

Brown was in his sixth year in Washington and ninth NFL season when Turner joined the Redskins as head coach in 1994.

At that time, Turner was coming off of winning back-to-back Super Bowl championships as an offensive coordinator with the Dallas Cowboys. He replaced Richie Petitbon as the Redskins' head coach.

"After he won Super Bowls in Dallas, I think he came here thinking, 'If you call can't beat me, I'm going to show you how we beat you,'" Brown said. "It just didn't go that well."

Turner finished his Redskins stint with a 49-59-1 record. His 1999 squad won the NFC East, the only time Turner made the postseason as Redskins head coach.

That year, the Redskins defeated the Detroit Lions 27-13 in the first round of the playoffs, but lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14-13 in the second round.

A year later, Turner was fired after 13 games as Redskins head coach. The team started 6-2, but lost four of the next five games. He was replaced by offensive assistant Terry Robiskie for the remainder of that season.

Sellers joined the Redskins in 1998 after three seasons in the Canadian Football League. He emerged as a solid special teams player and a versatile option on offense, catching 18 passes for 201 yards and four touchdowns from 1998-2000.

"Norv was real quiet," Sellers said. "He was a great guy and a great coach. He gave everybody a fair opportunity to do their job. He gave us every opportunity to play, and play well. It was sad when he got fired, but that's the life of an NFL coach, I guess.

"I thought we had a great offense back then--we just didn't have a great defense. He got a lot of criticism, but I respected him as a coach and a lot of the players respected him."

Both of the Redskins' bookend tackles, Jansen and Samuels, were drafted under Turner's stead as head coach. Jansen was taken in the second round of the 1999 draft and started 32 games in Turner's offensive system. Samuels was a first-round pick in 2000 and started all 16 games that season.

It turned out that Samuels and linebacker LaVar Arrington, also a first-round pick in 2000, would play just one season under Turner.

Said Jansen: "I did feel bad for him. You never like to see somebody get fired or cut in the middle of the season. When that happens a lot of blame is pointed at that person, rightfully so in some cases and not so in others."

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