Washington Redskins defensive end Dexter Manley is coming home to his native Houston today to play the Oilers.
But where’s the runaway mouth that spews out put-downs to his opponents and angers opposing crowds?
In an attempt at reverse psychology, Manley is placing tongue in cheek and heaping praise on Houston.
“It’s going to be tough going down to Houston to play the Oilers,” Manley said. “We’ll need extra people. We’ll probably have to have 13 or 14 people on the field.
“I literally mean that because they are a big physical football team.”
Could this be the same Dexter Manley who has threatened to club opponents with a baseball bat, ring their clocks or knock them out of the game?
“Anytime you play a team like the Oilers, who take pride in being a physical team, one of the most physical teams in the NFL, it’s tough,” Manley said.
“It’s an important game for the Oilers, after losing to Cincinnati last week.”
The Oilers and Redskins both bring 5-3 records into the 7 p.m. kickoff at the Astrodome.
The Oilers lost to Cincinnati 44-21 in an AFC Central Division showdown last week while the Redskins beat Green Bay 20-17, extending their winning streak to three games.
Manley, 29, was suspended the final month of the 1988 preseason because of drug problems but he wants to put that behind him now.
“Life is a struggle,” he said. “People get shot every day just walking. I think the biggest problem is learning to change.
“Right now I feel positive. I’m playing good solid football and I don’t worry about what happened in the past. Old news is no news.”
Manley is among a grewing list of NFL players receiving 30-day suspensions for drug abuse. But he doesn’t want to comment on a suitable punishment.
“I think it’s an issue when football season is over, the league can bring it up,” Manley said. “I’m in no position to speculate what’s good and what’s not good.”
Manley also has changed, at least for this week, his outspoken comments about the opposition. But Oilers tackle Bruce Davis remembers past epithets.
“The one that sticks out in my mind is: ‘I’m going to feed Bruce Davis to the alligators,”’ Davis said.
While Manley’s comments make for delightful reading, they’ve made Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs cringe at times.
“Dexter gets going sometimes and says some things I wish he wouldn’t say,” Gibbs said.
“I don’t tell him what to say and I don’t put restrictions on him but in the past I think he’s said some things that have caused him some grief because people take shots at him in games.”
Manley has rebounded this season with 25 tackles, including 12 behind the line of scrimmage.