Quiet pride: Campbell ready to take on leadership as Redskins' QB - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Quiet pride: Campbell ready to take on leadership as Redskins' QB

Jason Campbell is set to begin training camp as Redskins starter(Redskins.com) Jason Campbell is set to begin training camp as Redskins starter(Redskins.com)

07/25/07

STERLING, Va. (AP) -- Jason Campbell is the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins. Mercedes Lindsay is the reigning Miss District of Columbia.

Want to really get them talking? Sit them down in a restaurant and ask them about a recent bowling date in which Lindsay beat both Campbell and Redskins cornerback Carlos Rogers.

"We were playing around," Campbell said.

"We were NOT playing around," Lindsay said.

"We've got to let her win, you know," Campbell said.

"Let me win!" said Lindsay, laughing. "I took a picture of the score. I beat both of you _ don't try it."

The conversation soon turned to wins and losses in miniature golf and video games, further evidence that Campbell might have found his competitive match when he started dating someone from the cutthroat world of beauty pageants.

"We're very competitive _ with each other," Lindsay said.

It's no great revelation that Campbell hates to lose _ nearly every athlete feels that way _ but the fans and teammates still have much to learn about the 25-year-old quarterback who on Friday will report to training camp for the first time as an NFL starter.

Campbell and Lindsay could be Washington's glamour couple if they really wanted to be, but that's not his style. This was the first lengthy interview in which both participated, and Campbell preferred not to have a photo published of the two together. The relaxed setting, however, helped offer a glimpse into what makes him tick.

"In private I just talk, talk, talk, talk," Campbell said. "But in public, I'm reserved. In public, I'm an observer. In the locker room pregame, everybody else is hyped up. I'm just sitting around observing."

Several coaches and teammates say the term "quiet pride" describes Campbell well. The third-year player from Auburn isn't very vocal and seems to internalize his emotions, they said, yet he is a hard-worker who hates to lose. He comes across as humble, unassuming and the last person to get full of himself just because he's been handed the reins of the offense.

"He's not going to do things to attract attention to himself," assistant coach Al Saunders said. "The position attracts attention, and he just happens to be that guy. He's going to be very professional. He's not going to change his personality."

But there is plenty of personality there. Campbell may not raise his voice, but he has a lot to say. His candor was refreshing during the final seven games of last season, when he made his first NFL starts following the benching of Mark Brunell. He was, for example, one of the first players to say the team had succumbed to the hype of self-generated Super Bowl expectations after a playoff run the year before.

Still, he was so quiet that receiver Brandon Lloyd felt compelled one day to ask whether he had done anything to offend Campbell. Lloyd wasn't sure the quarterback liked him because Campbell didn't speak to him much.

"My situation was I hadn't proven myself on the field just yet, so I felt like I didn't have the right to say anything to anyone at the time until I'd proved myself and earned everybody's respect," Campbell said. "What I did, I played hard, the offseason came, and I worked my butt off to try to get myself into that position. I want to be a leader of the team before the season starts _ because this is my team, I want to be leader of it _ so this year I will be more open."

More open? Yes. Louder? No.

"You won't ever hear me fuss a player out," Campbell said. "I talk to men out here as a grown man. Like if we have a missed assignment, I'll go up to the receiver and tell him what I saw, and I want to know what he saw. That way we can compromise together, and we'll both know what each other is thinking. If you fuss a player out, what you're doing is you're making him mad at you. You're not building any kind of relationship."

This week, Campbell has been building his camaraderie with receivers Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El _ both of whom returned a few days early from their vacations to catch some passes and work on the timing that was missing when Campbell took over last season.

Campbell also bought his father a boat during the offseason, having previously purchased a house for his mother. Those were the only things requested by his parents after he signed his first contract. His ties remain strong to his hometown of Taylorsville, Miss.

Campbell embraces the opportunity to play a part in the legacy of black quarterbacks, feeling it's only fitting to recognize those who blazed the trail before him. He wears No. 17 _ the same number Doug Williams wore as a Super Bowl-winning quarterback for the Redskins in the 1980s _ and said the "standard is still high" for blacks who want to play the position in the NFL.

But anyone thinking those feelings come from a bitter upbringing in the deep South had better think again. Campbell had white and black friends, and he was influenced heavily by a beloved pie-baking grandmother who used to baby-sit many white children. Many counted her as part of the family when they tearfully remembered her at her funeral.

"That helped me to respect everybody," Campbell said. "Don't treat people differently because of their color. I treat everybody the same way."

The running joke in Washington is that the Redskins' starting QB is second in importance only to the president, but Campbell is hard-wired to handle the pressure. He knows he will get booed when he throws an interception _ and his 2-5 record as a starter last year eats at him in the worst way _ yet he has the perspective that life is good and nothing should not be taken for granted.

"For me, it's just a matter of enjoying it, taking everything in stride," Campbell said. "You can't get full of yourself because what is there to get full of yourself about? It's only football. You've still got a long ways to go, you've got a life after football. I just don't spend my life worrying about what people have to say."

Lindsay laughed as Campbell spoke those words. She then told the story of a recent autograph session in which Campbell's quiet pride was on full display. He greeted fans, one after the other, by saying, "I'm Jason Campbell, nice to meet you."

"And we all just laugh," Lindsay said. "Because it's like, 'Hello! They know who you are.'"

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