There's no "Prime Time" in the Washington Redskins nowadays, and that may mean a lot more games in prime time in the future.
The days of Deion Sanders' personal clothier leaving suits in lockers or his jeweler selling rings in the hallway are long gone. LaRon Landry's F-650, Michael Westbrook's Lamborghini and the various BMWs and Mercedes in the parking lot have been replaced by Ford F-150s. The only music blaring is in the practice bubble.
And Southeast Jerome and his posse recently retired.
The Redskins are a blue-collar, low-key team as they get ready to face the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. They are a bit younger, somewhat quieter and a lot more business-like than in recent seasons. After a decade of collecting marquee players like Bruce Smith, Jeff George, Albert Haynesworth and Donovan McNabb, the circus finally left Ashburn and took its clowns with it.
"What coach [Mike] Shanahan has been trying to do the last few years is keep the quality character guys and quality veteran leadership," center Will Montgomery said. "You do see some of those big name guys who are distractions in the past aren't around anymore."
The biggest addition this season also might be the team's most publicized ever -- Robert Griffin III. But the rookie is smart enough not to draw extra attention other than those nonstop commercials. He only talks to the media on Wednesdays and after games, which lessens any tension with the Redskins' veterans.
"Just seeing him be the same calm guy, the same demeanor was very impressive for me," receiver Santana Moss said.
Griffin's backfield mate is unheralded rookie Alfred Morris, who said he finally was recognized at the grocery store after the opening victory against the Saints. Morris quietly observes his older teammates, trying to decide his place in the pecking order.
"These guys have been doing it forever at this level, and I'm just coming in," he said. "Sometimes I think I shouldn't say anything at all."
Morris needn't worry. The veterans don't seem to be hazing the rookies other than requiring them to bring breakfast to positional meetings. Indeed, many of the older players with solid resumes realize the team's success will be realized only through the youth movement. It seems to have re-energized the veterans.
"When you have both of those guys in your backfield and they're both rookies, it's hard for you to go out there and be slack," Moss said.
It took Shanahan three offseasons to reshape his roster, not just for better performers but for "his" guys, who now number 41 of 53 players. They're quiet like the coach, who would make a good Cold War spy. Shanahan wants players who think TMZ is the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea.
It's working, if only for one game. Certainly the midweek squabbling with underperforming star players has been replaced by a steady focus on the game ahead.
If they keep this up, the Redskins will be prime-time regulars again soon.