MASON'S MESSAGE OF HOPE

Redskins linebacker Eddie Mason has maintained that his team will snap out of its doldrums. He sees little reasons every day for his beliefs. And he's never wavered in thinking that Washington will be a good team, something he talked about before the season. Here, in his own words, is why he's still optimistic--and why you should be, too. Find out why someone on a 1-2 team describes himself as being on Cloud Nine.

''First, we don't have to worry about any diehard Redskins fans. They'll stay with us regardless. But one reason not to throw the red flag of worry is because we have established a greater accountability--coaches and players alike.

''From a communications standpoint this week was a week to regroup and refresh and get things back in order to say, 'Hey, guys, we're 1-2. A lot of teams are 1-2.' That's not what we want to be, but the fact is a lot are 1-2. Our communication was improved this week. It already was good. But when you don't have a game, you have that extra time during the week to go back and make a correction and come back and everyone takes a look at himself and watches what they did in two losses.

''We had three great practices this week. We had a lot of energy and a lot of guys going that extra step. They're saying, 'We're better than this.' The coaches are saying that, too. It's positive reinforcement and we're encouraging each other. We're not just saying it with our mouths, but we're doing it on the field and responding to what the coaches have asked us to do. We'll take a step forward next week.

''You can just see it. Sometimes a person can say something then get up there and the film says something different. But you see it on tape and you feel the energy in practice. I've been walking around here looking like I'm on Cloud Nine this week. This is what I'm talking about. Guys are really excited again. After you lose a little bit, sometimes it's like, 'Man, we have to get out of this thing.' But guys are excited and their energy is good and I don't think I'd say that you'll see a different team, but you'll see a fresh, renewed spirit. A team that knows what we can do.

''Guys were more sound and more sharp in their assignments this week. They were more focused and detail oriented. It's little things that get you beat. I don't care how good a team is, you can lose sight of that. And it's better that if this had to happen that it happened now rather than later. Now we can sharpen this thing up. If we stay focused and committed to the team, I don't think our fans will have much to worry about.

''Here's another reason: the heart of this team, the character. We have guys who will fight to the end. Some may say they haven't seen this or that. But we see it. We know the guys we have on this team and believe in them. It's the warrior mentality, that we're not losers.

''We've still got a lot of football ahead of us. We've got a great coaching staff that believes in us and we have great fans who believe in us and great players who believe in what we're doing. We're going to get this thing together. It's taking longer to jell right now, but we'll get it together.''


Breaking Burgundy Top Stories