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The Story You Will Never Read: Redskins Owner Steps Down

December 30, 2013 1 comment
Snyder announces he is banishing himself to his $70 million yacht.

Snyder announces he is banishing himself to his $70 million yacht.

In a stunning display of maturity and personal awareness, despicable Washington Redskins owner, Daniel F. Snyder, today fired his head coach then himself.  “You pretty much have to fire a coach who finished with a 3-13 season,” said Snyder.  “But the real problem has been me all along,” he announced to a shocked gaggle of scribbling reporters.

“From day one, I have let my gigantic ego, some would call it Napoleonic in nature, interfere with every aspect of our operations,” admitted Snyder.  “I will confess that a strategy of bringing in tremendously overpriced free agents well past their prime may have backfired.  It is also possible that giving preferential treatment to certain star players may have been, er, misinterpreted and might have been demoralizing to other lesser players in the locker room.”

Snyder, however, refused to apologize for suing Redskins season-ticket holders for failure to make payments after losing their jobs during the recession, saying that the team’s dismal performance had otherwise provided him little joy besides crushing and annihilating the powerless.

Snyder also stood by his decision to have once banned all signs at FedEx field critical of him or the team.  “There’s a cost to free speech,” said Snyder.  “You can think all the bad thoughts you want about me and my horrendous track record as a conniving, profiteering schmuck, but you can do that in the privacy of your hovel and certainly not in my beautiful stadium.”

In his shocking announcement that he would sell the team, Snyder raised eyebrows even further, when he disclosed he was becoming principle owner of City Paper, a publication he once sued for libel.  “City Paper, I assure you, will spend the next ten years correcting the historical record to what it should be in my mind.”

Asked to enumerate the many reasons for his consistent failure as an owner in less than 3 hours or so, Snyder demurred, saying only that his biggest fault was loving the Redskins too, too much.

“My love for this team and for the Native American people of America has possibly blinded me.  The great passion I have felt for the team and all the oppressed Indian tribes they have always represented may have led me to take impetuous actions from time to time.  So blame me for caring too much,” he concluded as he wiped away a single, sad, yet symbolic tear.

RGIII- A Future of Pain and Sorrow

November 8, 2013 2 comments

NFL- Baltimore Ravens at Washington Redskins

Clearly, the kid only has one speed and it’s no longer fun to watch.  Without an offensive line to protect him, a defense that defends and a play-caller who is sane enough to know you run when you have a lead, Robert Griffin III is taking the entire team on his shoulders and taking a physical beating.   It’s not his re-built knee that’s in danger – it’s his brain and his very life.

We now know those impressive hits we see in the NFL cause permanent harm.   Former Cowboys running back, Tony Dorsett, is but the latest in a long line of players who have suffered permanent brain injury from the thousands of hits they‘ve absorbed through their college and NFL careers.  Every time RGIII incurs a brutal blow, as he did at least a dozen times in the most recent Redskins’ debacle against the Minnesota Vikings, his brain is literally crashing against his skull and creating the scar tissue that eventually causes memory loss, suicidal thoughts and severe depression.

Someday, when he’s no longer a kid and turns, say 50, will he be able to walk?  Will he remember to take his kids to school?  Will he shoot himself in the chest like Junior Seau did, in order to preserve his brain for clinical study?

I know this sounds sick and extreme.  But it is the reality for NFL players.  It’s why watching this sport is getting to be increasingly uncomfortable.  It’s why I feel very little joy and actually a great deal of sadness when I see this poor kid playing his heart out for a team that cannot protect him and a coaching staff and owner that could care less if they literally break him again and again, only to leave him to recover enough in the off-season to take next year’s beatings.

As you look back at it and understand the frighteningly consistent dysfunction of Daniel Snyder’s Washington Redskins for well over a decade, it makes you wish someone had told this intelligent, charming and supremely talented young man to RUN-  far, far away from Landover and the clutches of the Snyders and the Shanahans.   They’re not only using you, RG- they may very well be killing you.

The Power Outage, the Commercials, the Glory of Super Bowl 47

February 4, 2013 1 comment

Super

A most entertaining Super Bowl, indeed. For the first time ever, both the game and the commercials were overshadowed by…the power outage. The half-hour interruption of the Super Bowl just after the start of the 2nd half is officially a hot potato as multiple people and agencies and companies deny it was their fault and point fingers at one another.

“Wasn’t us!” said Entergy, the local power company providing electricity to the stadium. The stadium people are now saying it was all due to their safeguards that worked really, really well. “A piece of equipment that is designed to monitor electrical load sensed an abnormality in the system,” tripping a breaker and adding “backup generators kicked in immediately as designed.”

The world was atwitter with all kinds of theories. It was Drew Breese and the Saints getting their revenge against the NFL for the harsh penalties imposed in connection to bounty-gate. It was Beyonce, whose high-powered, high-tech half-time show somehow fried the electrical grid.

I officially endorse the Puppy Bowl conspiracy. It was those dogs and cats and hedgehogs over at Animal Planet whose appetite for their spectacular ratings earlier in the afternoon, led them to take out the actual People Bowl over at CBS.

But I digress. How about them commercials? Some instant poll found everybody liked the baby Clydesdale spot of the horse running back to a trainer from the horse’s colt days, all edited to tug at our heartstrings with Stevie Nick’s “Landslide” playing in the background.

The Dodge Ram “Farmer” spot proved to be really appreciated. A beautifully written speech from a generation ago by the late, great ABC broadcaster, Paul Harvey, on the down home qualities of America’s farmers.

And on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, ‘I need a caretaker.’ So God made a farmer. God said, ‘I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the field, milk cows again, eat supper, then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.’ So God made a farmer.

Most of the Doritos ads were pretty cool; cross-dressing is always a guaranteed winner for taco chips.

I laughed hysterically at the VW ad featuring the dude from Minnesota with the Jamaican accent- “land of the ten tousand lakes, mon.” I learned later it was apparently politically incorrect to like that ad.

My informal polling found the GoDaddy commercial with the model kissing the nerd with the horrible complexion to have been something that should never have been produced much less shown on national television.

And what was that Coke ad where a bunch of different people are inexplicably competing against one another in a desert chasing after a carbonated beverage? We were all supposed to vote or something on who would win. All I know is it made me hate Coke.

And then there was Beyonce. Honestly, I liked her Super Bowl press conference where she sang the national anthem, better than her actual half-time performance but she was beautiful, talented and high-tech and several people I was with were touched when her old Destiny’s Child co-stars appeared with her. There’s also a whole twitter meme about how she shorted out the entire Superdome with her sheer energy and ferociousness.

Oh- and what a game! The 49ers made it really close and tense and only one of the greatest goal line stands in history preserved the win for the Baltimore Ravens. Ray Lewis got his perfect retirement gift and even Ray Lewis-haters had the opportunity to send snarky tweets making oblique references to the murder charges he had to fend off 13 years ago.

Thanks Super Bowl, XLVII- you big lug you. I laughed. I cried. I ate large quantities.

Tough Call on RGIII- Lay Off Shanahan

Wild Card Playoffs - Seattle Seahawks v Washington Redskins

The Washington Redskins did the right thing when they sat RGIII against Cleveland, the week after the Baltimore game in which he injured his right knee. They did the right thing in the weeks that followed by altering their offensive game plan to fit RGIII’s new and temporary limitations. Now Coach Mike Shanahan is getting buried in criticism for not having pulled the kid in Sunday’s playoff loss to Seattle despite being obviously injured. I think some understanding of both men is in order.

What if the kid had been able to rally the Skins to a game-tying touchdown? Would the critics still be piling on Shanahan? Doubtful- which says to me a lot of this outrage is less about RGIII and more about a decision that may have cost the Redskins the game. And the outrage comes chock-full of hindsight. Who knew a bad snap from center would cause Griffin to awkwardly hyperextend the knee again on the god-forsaken mud hole that passes for turf at FedEx Field?

From a competitive standpoint, I think most will agree RGIII should have been pulled in the 2nd half after a 9-yard run out of bounds in which he basically dragged his right leg along like it was hanging by a thread. That looked alarming. But Shanahan is nothing if not loyal. The most compelling argument RGIII made at half-time to convince the coach he should keep playing was his insistence that he had earned the right to stay in there and give it his best shot. To me that’s indisputable. The kid, through most of 15 games did everything humanly possible to earn the right to stay in there.

But was it misplaced loyalty? Does the Head Coach have an obligation to overrule a competitive player who will always say he’s healthy enough to play whether he is or not? Yes and Shanahan admits it. He says he trusted his gut on this but that his gut isn’t always right and that he would, indeed, second-guess himself over the decision.

Even RGIII admits he endangered himself when he continued playing after having tweaked the knee just before his 2nd TD pass in the 1st quarter. But this was the playoffs. You think RGIII was the only player out there playing hurt? When Kirk Gibson came in to pinch-hit for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the bottom of the 9th inning of a World Series game when Gibson could barely stand, much less walk, did people think that was abusing the athlete? Of course not. Because he hit a homerun that won the game.

It turns out RGIII is not indestructible but is, in fact, all too human. Both in his stubbornness and his physical health. Mike Shanahan is human too. I would argue, if anything, he put his loyalty to his QB above the strategic dynamics needed to win that game. And in retrospect- yes- he made the wrong decision. But I don’t think he deserves to be vilified or fired for it.

Everyone will learn from this and especially RGIII and Mike Shanahan, There is a point where steely determination and sheer grit begin to provide diminishing returns. RGIII will learn to be a little less reckless. Coach Shanahan now knows there will be times where he’ll have to stop RG from being his own worst enemy.

What I can’t stop thinking about, is the cruelty of fate and the vulnerability of even the most talented and ferocious of athletes. I will never forget the Skins game against the Minnesota Vikings this year when Griffin scored on a 78 yard touchdown run. His Olympic-class speed was breathtaking to behold. It was the longest scoring run by an NFL quarterback in 16 years. Griffin piled up 138 yards rushing that day.

And then I picture the botched snap from center on Sunday when the same gifted athlete could not bend down and pick up a dropped football without collapsing in a heap on the muddy turf.

Because of his work ethic and desire, however bad this knee injury turns out to be- it will be overcome. He may never be able to run again like we saw with astonishment this season- but he will be back and 80% of Robert Griffin III is way better than 100% of most others.

But painful lesson, indeed, for both he and his coach. None of it should take away from the amazing, ridiculously unexpected result of this Redskins season when a 22-year-old man/child led a 3-6 team to a divisional title through guts, leadership, and, yes, ironically, the kind of unflinching toughness that ultimately cost them in the end.

The New “America’s Team”- For One Night Anyway

December 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Not!

Not!


Back in 1979 when the Dallas Cowboys annoyingly anointed themselves “America’s Team”- at least they were good. They won Super Bowls in 1972 and 1978 and made appearances in title games in 1971, 1976, and 1979.

Then they almost made it four Super Bowls in a row in the 1990’s, winning it all in 1993, 1994 and 1996. Since then, however, it’s been 16 years without a Super Bowl appearance. In fact, they only have one playoff win at all in those last 16 years. They may call themselves “America’s Team,” but no one else in America does.

A non-scientific ESPN internet poll proves it emphatically. At last check, 73% of Americans (or at least 200,000 people with an internet connection whom we presume to be mostly Americans), are rooting for the Washington Redskins this Sunday night when they host the former “America’s Team “ in a battle for the NFC East title. Winner goes to the playoffs, loser goes to the showers and then to a golf course in a moderate climate somewhere.

State-by-state, the ESPN poll shows 49 of them are rooting for the Redskins and one is backing the Cowboys. And Texas is not really a state- it’s a Republic plus they’ve engaged in a lot of secessionist talk over recent years.

Powered by three engaging rookies, quarterback, RGIII, running back, Alfred Morris and Kicker, Kai Forbath, these Washington Redskins are a quite loveable group and surprising, to boot. CBS Sports.com prognosticator, Pete Prisco, predicted they’d finish the year 3-13. Looked good there for ol’ Prisco when the Skins went into their bye week with a 3-6 record.

But something magical happened in that off week. Coming off a humiliating home loss to the Carolina Panthers and with head coach, Mike Shanahan publicly stating the players were now playing for next year- RGIII would have none of it. He reportedly gave a Knut Rockne-type speech that would have made Rockne himself proud. It was so inspiring, in fact, that his teammates immediately voted to make Robert one of their captains.

Now here it is six straight victories later. The Skins have even been victorious in one game without RGIII (thank you Kirk Cousins and Mike Shanahan). Last week, they proved they could win with RGIII’s arm and without his legs.

The previously porous defense now comes up big whenever it seems absolutely necessary.

The most humble kid in the universe who has a 20 year-old car and still sleeps on is parent’s couch when he’s visiting his old home is named Alfred Morris and the young rookie is just 104 yards away from setting the all-time Redskins single season record for rushing.

And Kai Forbath, a former UCLA kicker, who could not hook up with another NFL team gets picked up in the middle of the season and responds by going to the Hall of Fame. Or at least the ball did- the one that marked his 17th consecutive field goal without a miss- the best career start for any kicker in NFL history.

So what’s not to love about the new America’s Team? Even if they lose, these Skins have given their fans more than anyone could have hoped. But I don’t think they’ll lose.

This feels, for all the world, like a Redskins-Cowboys matchup at old RFK stadium 40 years ago- a game the Redskins won 26-3 before going off to face the undefeated Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VII (back when you could still tell what the Roman numerals stood for).

That game was for the NFC championship- but this one- after a mostly sorrowful 20 years in the wilderness for Redskins fans- seems every bit as big. Americans- we thank you for your support.

Redskins Face the Strasburg Question- RGIII Needs to Heal

December 11, 2012 Leave a comment

NFL- Baltimore Ravens at Washington Redskins

He is entirely too special to risk suffering any long-term damage. Even short-term thinking- one week’s rest, at a minimum, is the least the Redskins should do for their once-in-a-lifetime quarterback.

And it’s a decision the Redskins may need to take out of the kid’s hands because based on what we saw last Sunday at FedEx Field, Robert Griffin is a selfless warrior who would claw and scratch to get back out on the field, no matter how many of his limbs are hanging by a thread.

It’s not just about his health and the “mild” sprain of a right knee. Imagine winning a key playoff-atmosphere game led by your other rookie quarterback. Oh, that’s right- that’s precisely what Kirk Cousins already pulled off last Sunday against Baltimore. But can he lead the team for an entire game and claim a win over the suddenly resurgent Cleveland Browns?

I think so. First of all, the Browns haven’t exactly been beating the elite squads of the NFL. They beat a 7-6 Pittsburgh team without their starting quarterback. Then they edged the 3-10 Oakland Raiders and last week, the 2-11 Kansas City Chiefs.

The Browns won’t be a cakewalk, but any victory by the Skins without RGIII would do the team enormous psychological good. The kid’s will to win has already become contagious. Let’s prove the theory this Sunday in Cleveland without him.

For the short-term, a one-dimensional, pocket-passing, less mobile RGIII may very well win over the Browns- but it’s the two games that follow and potentially the playoffs after that where the Redskins will need his arm and his legs. And considering the intensity with which he plays and that this may not be the last time he sits out a game or two, it cannot hurt to give your back-up QB practice and game time.

And for the long-term, it would end up as the most tragic story in all of sports, if Robert Griffin were to have a career-threatening injury. It is hard to justify risking all that promise for the temptations of the present.

Granted, this doesn’t really compare to what the Washington Nationals decided to do with their young pitching ace, Stephen Strasburg last year. Strasburg was not even hurt. That was a much gutsier decision. But there is a similarity in the basic question of whether the future is worth considering, protecting and nurturing.

Baseball is much more of an annual marathon with its 162 games over six grueling months. The very nature of the sport and its lengthy seasonal slog lends itself more to long-term thinking. The NFL is the polar opposite. It is a sport premised on the future-is-now philosophy of immediate gratification. They only play 16 games. Each contest is 6% of the regular season. It’s a do-or-die each week.

This decision will be quite the test. Go for the brass ring now? Or rest the kid, let him heal a bit and put yourself in a position to reach for a half dozen brass rings over the next ten years- and maybe even one later this year? For this season and for the many more ahead; for the two divisional games that follow in Philadelphia and home against the Cowboys- this is a no-brainer. For this week- let RGIII lead the team from the bench.

RGIII’s Special Skills Wasted on Sports

December 5, 2012 Leave a comment

RGIII2

To say Robert Griffin III is an inspiration is a considerable understatement.

He seems to have single-handedly willed what, on paper, is a mediocre football team into a playoff contender. He shows up at the Verizon Center to take in a Wizards game and the doormat of the NBA somehow rises to the occasion and knocks off the defending champion Miami Heat.

I see no reason he cannot pinch hit, pitch relief and run the bases for the Washington Nationals from time to time. I suspect he wields a pretty mean slap shot if the Caps can use a little help and if they actually play hockey this year. DC United could certainly use a forward with blazing speed.

But we’re thinking way too small here.

In his primary job as quarterback of the Redskins, since he is already uniting Democrats and Republicans in Washington D.C., I propose that RGIII be immediately made an honorary member of Congress and the chief negotiator in the fiscal cliff talks. Trust me on this, if you can take something built by Daniel Snyder and make it look good, you are capable of anything- including finding a solution to the debt crisis.

With Hillary Clinton about to step down after four stellar years as Secretary of State there is an obvious void. Oh, the President likes Susan Rice for the post, but congressional Republicans threaten to block her nomination, so it would seem a natural that you-know-who be tapped as our emissary to the world.

Can RGIII mediate a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians? Please.
Could RGIII talk Assad into leaving Syria? Must the question even be posed?

With that smile, that work ethic, that humility and composure, and all the raw skill and talent, not to mention an IQ I would wager is close to Leonardo da Vinci’s, there are many, many more useful things Mr. Griffin ought to be doing than throwing a friggin’ football for Dan Snyder.

All that said, if he does it for just one more decade and ten playoff appearances, I can see RGIII’s first campaign appearances in Iowa and New Hampshire around 2024 or so.

And you can sign me up right now.