Washington returning to pro football

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 11, 1999

By MICHAEL KIRAL and LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / Febuary 11, 1999

LAPLACE – Lionel Washington’s tenure as the St. John the Baptist Parishrecreation director lasted less than two weeks. The former Lutcher HighSchool and Tulane University football star accepted a coaching position with the Green Bay Packers over the weekend.

Washington, a retired cornerback for the St. Louis Cardinals, LosAngeles/Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos from 1983-97, will coach the Packers’ defensive backs.

Washington was nominated to be the new parish recreation director and confirmed by the Parish Council at its Jan. 25 meeting. Last week, the Packers contacted Washington about the available assistant coach’s position, and he flew up to Green Bay for an interview.

Washington had met new Packers coach Ray Rhodes four years ago, and assistant coach Emmitt Thomas was his position coach his first three years in the league.

“I have been offered the job and have accepted the job,” Washington confirmed Tuesday morning.

He said he will begin working with the Packers next week.

The appointment of Washington left the parish recreation program still under the direct leadership of Parish President Arnold Labat, who fired the prior director, Louis Lipps, last September for overspending his budget.

Parish Councilman Steve Thornton, who cast the lone dissenting vote on Washington’s confirmation, said: “Hopefully, Mr. Labat will have thewisdom to do it right the next time.”At the council meeting Thornton said his vote was to protest how the selection was handled by Labat. He argued the position should have beenadvertised and a serious hunt conducted for candidates.

“That’s a risk we take when we try to get a star-studded player,” Thornton said. “The guys who were singing his praises may have egg ontheir faces right now.”Councilman Nickie Monica said he has consulted with his recreation advisory board member and urges the council to work closely with the administration and the recreation board toward Washington’s replacement.

Three other candidates were considered by Labat for the position.

Washington said his youth football camp, which he has held in the River Parishes since 1992, will not be held this year. He said it will be heldnext year in a different format.

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