A look back - Charles Mann

Signed out of a small school, Nevada-Reno, in 1983, Mann was a gamble that paid off nicely. In his rookie season he played behind Todd Libenstein on a team that blew its chance for back-to-back Super Bowl titles by losing to the Los Angeles Raiders. Mann took over for Libenstein the next year and had 7.5 sacks. By 1985 he was up to a career high 14.5 sacks.

It's been just three years since former Washington Redskin defensive end Charles Mann strapped on his helmet, but the All-Pro turned television personality swears that he doesn't miss playing the game one bit.

"I don't miss it. Even two years out there's no hint, no wanting, no ‘what ifs'," Mann said in a recent interview from Redskin Park. "I played the game long enough. I got it all out of me — four Super Bowl appearances."

If those Super Bowls (three with Washington and one with the San Francisco 49ers) weren't enough to satisfy Mann, there's always the 12 knee operations resulting from his 12 seasons of NFL play to discourage him from dreaming of one more sack.

But Mann doesn't say anything about not missing the contact of the sport, and that might explain why he sits down for the interview with a ripped dress shirt button and a smile on his face.

Seems Mann got a little exuberant while filming a segment with current Redskins defensive end Richie Owens for a local show. Mann was showing the 6-foot-6, 281-pound Owens some pass rush techniques, and before they knew it, buttons were flying and Owens came away with a bloody lip.

Mann, 6-foot-6 himself, played as heavy as 270 pounds but appears back to, or under ,his rookie weight of 235. He definitely is one of the few local television reporters who could knock heads with a player as big as Owens and live to tell about it.

During his playing career, Mann made a living knocking heads with opposing quarterbacks. In 11 seasons with Washington, he registered 82 sacks, second most in club history to Dexter Manley's 97.5.

Signed out of a small school, Nevada-Reno, in 1983, Mann was a gamble that paid off nicely.

In his rookie season he played behind Todd Libenstein on a team that blew its chance for back-to-back Super Bowl titles by losing to the Los Angeles Raiders. Mann took over for Libenstein the next year and had 7.5 sacks. By 1985 he was up to a career high 14.5 sacks.

Mann and Manley combined for 133 sacks during six productive seasons, including a Super Bowl victory over Denver in the 1987 season. One final Pro Bowl appearance and a second Super Bowl ring came Mann's way in 1991.

After 163 games, he was released by the Redskins in 1993. Rather than retire, Mann hooked on with San Francisco and played a supporting role in the 49ers' march to the 1994 season Super Bowl.

In all, the Redskins made the playoffs in seven of Mann's 11 years in Washington, with the club posting a 112-63 record during his defensive tenure.

Moving into TV was a no-brainer for the eloquent Mann.

"It was pretty obvious what I was going to go into. I was "Mr. Soundbite" for TV stations/radio stations," Mann said.

He was going to take at least a year off after retiring, but a chance three-day assignment to co-host a local television morning show called Broadcast House Live sparked his career.

Having passed the "audition," Mann was brought in two months later to help start a show called Redskin Blitz, a production he still works on.

Mann's weekly responsibilities are not limited to television -- he owns part of a new restaurant at the refurbished National Airport (The Charles Mann All Pro Grill), does a radio show on WJFK, has public speaking engagements and helps run a local foundation for inner city kids.

This work ethic is not something new. In fact, Mann almost didn't play football because of work commitments in high school.

"I wanted my own stuff. I wanted nice stuff," Mann recalls. "I came from a family of seven kids and I knew that my parents couldn't afford it. I took on responsibility early in life."

Mann worked at a local grocery store and dedicated himself to becoming the "best bagger" in Sacramento, Calif. It wasn't until his senior year that he played football.

It's this type of drive — to be the best at whatever he does — that he takes into his media endeavors today.

"He's grown a lot. Every week he's gotten better," said Larry Michael, who co-hosts the weekly three-hour radio Redskins show with Mann.

Mann says the Saturday radio show is the most fun he has each week, but the project closest to his heart is the Good Samaritan Foundation that he runs with three other former Redskins — Art Monk, Tim Johnson and Earnest Byner.

The main program is called STOP (Student Training Opportunity Program), and it helps kids in need by giving them summer jobs and teaching them life skills.

Mann is proud that the foundation, dreamed up by the players on a bus ride to Latrobe, Penn. for a preseason football game, is still going strong after all four have left the Redskins' spotlight.

"I always felt like I was blessed with so much, I had to do something to give back. It was my requirement. It was my duty," Mann said.

Mann is one of those players who adjusted quickly to life on the "outside."

"When you play professional sports and you come out of that arena, you realize that that's not the real world. You are a man playing a kid's game," Mann says. "How long can that go? How long can you trick your body? How long can you trick people? That can't be a lifelong dream because you don't play it that long."

Mann's next goal is to move up to the national level in television, but there is a lot of competition for the few openings.

"I think I'm going to do much greater things than what I've already done in professional football," Mann said.

This article was originally published on November 7, 1997


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