Mr. Johnson returns to Washington

Updated: October 10, 2003, 4:28 PM ET
ESPN

ASHBURN, Va. -- Brad Johnson didn't have to say, "I told you so" when he called Washington this week. All he had to do was recite the numbers.

"I'm very proud of my two years there," the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback told reporters covering the Washington Redskins in a conference call in advance of Sunday's game.

"I was the only quarterback that led the team to the playoffs in the last 10 years, 10-6 as a starter the first year, 7-4 as a starter the next year. The team was 1-4 without me.

"We did some good things, and it's just kind of unfortunate the way things turned out," Johnson said.

Essentially run out of town by owner Dan Snyder after the 2000 season, all Johnson did was go south and win a Super Bowl for the Bucs while the Redskins languished through two more mediocre seasons. He returns Sunday for the first time since his departure, when Washington hosts Tampa Bay.

"Winning a Super Bowl could validate some things, you know," Johnson said. "Sometimes maybe the prettiest girl isn't always the best girl. I'm not the guy that's kind of flashy and running around and making all the highlights on ESPN, but I do feel like that I've played for some pretty good teams, and our teams had a good chance to win over those years."

For Snyder and the Redskins, the "prettiest girl" appeared to be fastball-throwing Jeff George, who was signed in the spring of 2000 even though Johnson had led the team to a playoff berth and was coming off a Pro Bowl season in 1999.

The discomfort in the building the following season was such that Johnson walked out of Redskins Park the day after the last game saying, "I'm out of here. I won't be back. I've been at that conclusion for a long time. We're just trying to make peace with everything."

These days, of course, Johnson has left all that behind. He's now a father of two, has built a house and earned his Super Bowl ring and is now ranked third in winning percentage among active quarterbacks, behind Kurt Warner and Brett Favre.

Meanwhile, George has long departed Washington, and the Redskins have gone through Tony Banks, Shane Matthews and Danny Wuerffel before deciding on Patrick Ramsey as their longtime solution at quarterback.

"It's been a good choice for myself, with what I've accomplished in the last few years," Johnson said. "It's probably been a good change for both parties."

Few Redskins players remember Johnson because the team has had such a high turnover, but those who do hold him in high regard. Cornerback Champ Bailey was asked whether Johnson got a fair shake in Washington.

"Honestly? No," Bailey said. "But it was probably better for him to go somewhere else. It worked out good for him."

There are some who believe that Johnson still doesn't get a fair shake, even as the winning quarterback for a Super Bowl team. Tampa Bay's title was won by the defense -- at least that's how the conventional wisdom goes.

"I'm real disappointed he doesn't get a little bit more status around the league," Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden said. "He's a winner. I think what he's done in this offense speaks for itself. He was productive for the Redskins. He rarely makes a mistake. Pinpoint passer. Tough. Finds a way to win. He's a hard guy to sack.

"Brad's got some labels that are pretty negative. He's been called everything from a coach on the field to a journeyman. There's not a lot of people calling him the NFC's leading passer right now and a guy that's been a Pro Bowl player in two different cites -- and a Super Bowl champion."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index