Hall blasts Petrino for releasing Jackson

Updated: October 25, 2007, 10:23 AM ET
Associated Press

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Pro Bowl cornerback DeAngelo Hall went off again on Atlanta Falcons coach Bobby Petrino, saying Wednesday the team appears to be giving up on the season with its release of Grady Jackson.

They need to cut all 53 of us. Nobody is playing the way they should be playing right now, obviously. I mean, we're 1-6. To sit there and single out Grady is just asinine. It's ridiculous.

--D'Angelo Hall

Hall was already fined $100,000 and had to sit out the first half of a game for getting into a sideline confrontation with the rookie coach during Week 3. Even so, the cornerback didn't mince words when asked for his reaction to Jackson being cut the previous day.

"I don't know what kind of message is being sent to let Grady go," Hall said. "I'm trying to go [all] out on every single snap. But a lot of guys feel like everyone from the top down is kind of turning it in."

Jackson, a 6-foot-2, 350-pound run-stopper, topped the league with 13 tackles for losses last season. This year, the 11-year veteran was the leader among Falcons defensive linemen with 21 tackles, including 5½ for losses and one sack.

Petrino denied the Falcons (1-6) were going with youth and preparing for 2008 by releasing the 35-year-old Jackson. Rookie Trey Lewis, a sixth-round pick, takes over as the starter.

"It had nothing to do with anything but football," the coach said. "It was just the way we wanted to go. We felt like for our best opportunity to win games, the next nine games that we played, this was the right move to make and that's really all there is to it."

Hall wasn't buying that logic.

"If that's the case ... they can probably cut me too," Hall said. "They need to cut all 53 of us. Nobody is playing the way they should be playing right now, obviously. I mean, we're 1-6. To sit there and single out Grady is just asinine. It's ridiculous."

Hall wasn't the only one caught off-guard by the move. Running back Warrick Dunn was more diplomatic but just as stunned.

"It's a shock," Dunn said. "We're all asking the question why? Did he do something wrong? I don't know."

Petrino has come under increasing criticism in the locker room as the losses have piled up. A couple weeks ago, Pro Bowl tight end Alge Crumpler, one of the team's most respected leaders, blasted the coach's play-calling and said it appeared the team was focusing on younger players at the expense of veterans.

On Wednesday, Hall said Crumpler was speaking on behalf of all veterans when he pointed out all the younger players that Petrino kept on the roster.

"We've got so many players that ain't made a play around here," Hall said. "It don't make no sense. We gave a lot of people jobs. Now, to sit around here and single Grady out and say he's the reason why [the team is losing] ... that's just ludicrous. If they've got something better and more concrete to go off of, I'd love to hear it. But I'm not buying that one."

Hall took a more subtle shot at Petrino, who left Louisville after last season for a five-year, $24 million contract with the Falcons. The cornerback has one more year left on his contract.

"I didn't just sign a lucrative deal where I can sit around and watch this ship sink," Hall said. "I can't do that. I've got one more year on my deal. I feel as though I can go out and get a ton of money, whether it's here of somewhere else. I've got a lot of stuff to play for."

But he wondered how much effort some of his teammates would give if they felt the Falcons were looking ahead to next season.

"It's kind of hard for the other guys to play 100 percent ... knowing that everyone is not on board from the front office on down," Hall said.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press