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Springs: 'Football Is My Sanctuary'

It doesn't need to be underscored that any Redskins trip to Texas Stadium is not just another football excursion.

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Rather, it's a trip that's chock-full of emotion, given that Redskins versus Cowboys has long since established itself as the NFL's top rivalry.

Multiply that over and over, in the case of Redskins veteran cornerback Shawn Springs.

Others can only imagine the emotions that must be at the core of the 32-year-old NFL player as the Redskins play in Dallas.

Springs has described things this way: "Football is my sanctuary."

Then, he goes on to say this: "Football is where I can get away from the things that are going on in my life. In between the lines, all I think about is football and it's kind of fun. You can disappear for a little bit."

As has been well documented in the national sports press, the picture is not a bright one regarding Springs' father, Ron Springs. For a long time, he has been suffering from diabetes-related complications.

And now, Ron Springs lies in a Dallas hospital with a coma, from which, doctors have told the Springs family, there are serious doubts that he will emerge.

In a conference call with Dallas reporters on Wednesday, Springs commented publicly on his father's condition. Unfortunately, he, too, did not have much if anything to say in the way of positive projections for his father.

"I'm very real about the situation," Springs said in those conference call exchanges on Wednesday.

Earlier this year, in a much celebrated story nationwide, Ron Springs received a kidney donated by former Cowboys teammate Everson Walls. But a little over a month ago, Ron Springs slipped into a coma. That happened while he was undergoing a surgical procedure to remove a cyst from his arm.

All indications are that Shawn Springs will play in the game at Dallas and then stay in the city to be with his father for a few days.

Shawn Springs has been dealing with his father's illnesses for months, if not years. The most recent round of medical setbacks regarding his father began to take place during the second week of October, when the Redskins were in Green Bay.

Ever since, Springs has been trying to show his commitments to his football team while at the same time dealing with the larger issues pertaining to his father and family.

He has been shuttling back and forth between the Washington, D.C., area and Dallas as the situations demands.

Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs and the entire organization have been as supportive as possible, offering, first and foremost, prayers for Ron and Shawn and the extended Springs family, most notably, Adriane, who is Shawn Springs' stepmother.

Said Gibbs: "It would be extremely hard for any of us to go through that. I told Shawn anything he feels he needs to do, then he's free to do it. He traveled last week, was down there for two days with his stepmom, and so they were going through a lot of decisions.

"That's an extremely tough thing to go through. I sure appreciate him coming up here to do that."

Gregg Williams, the Redskins' principal coach on defense, says Springs has maintained a steady approach toward his 11th and most difficult season in the NFL. Integrity has marked Springs' every move along the way.

Said Williams: "I think maybe the comfort and the environment that Shawn gets here gives him a little bit of solace. He and [Redskins cornerbacks coach] Jerry Gray are very close and I think that helps a lot."

Springs has not missed a game this year. He continues to play at a very high level. In the main, opposing quarterbacks have been reluctant to look to his side of the field.

As he approaches another trip to Dallas, this time with a football game attached, Shawn Springs says he maintains faith regarding his father.

It's a faith, too, that his father soon will be in a better place.

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