Posts Tagged ‘Redskins’

Class and Professionalism

I write not about the Redskins, per say, but their on-field leader, Donovan McNabb. You can never have too many leaders, and coupled with Coach Shanahan, that’s at least two good ones they have going right now.

McNabb is not only an NFL Quarterback, but he’s a darned good politician and diplomat too. Always says the right things. Never tries to provoke; although he did have one moment after Sunday’s surprising Redskin’s victory in Philadelphia where he showed himself to be human after all. After receiving the game ball, he gave a stirring speech to his teammates and ended it by saying “Everybody makes mistakes in life and they {the Eagles} made one last year.”

Good for him. The Fox Sports commentators said he made a mistake of his own with that statement. Chill a little, Terry Bradshaw. He is allowed to feel and express a moment of personal and professional vindication. If it ends up on the Eagle’s bulletin board next time the teams meet- so be it.

Heading into McNabb’s homecoming in Philly, much had been written about why Eagle’s fans never really embraced him. There seemed to be consensus that McNabb never got mad enough at himself when they lost. He was too even-keeled for Philadelphia.

Uh, excuse me. Since when is being mature and balanced in your approach to your job a bad thing? In fact, if you look at the characteristics of championship sports teams, one constant is that they control their emotions. They don’t get too high when they win. They don’t get too low when they lose. McNabb is the embodiment of a true professional. He did not, on paper, have the greatest statistical game against his former teammates Sunday. But as usual, he was cool when it mattered.

A note on Eagle’s fans. They were pitch-perfect Sunday at Lincoln Field. They showed a lot of class giving McNabb a standing ovation prior to the game. Once the players hit the field, they booed him just as they would any opposing quarterback. And that was cool too.

As for the Skins, I don’t know which team will be showing up week to week, but the one that played Sunday, was tough, gutsy and lucky. Those twin stinkers against the Rams and the Texans are all forgiven now by Redskins Nation. An NFL season is a long grind. I, for one, will never have qualms with a team that misses the playoffs but tries its heart out and shows character in the process.

Those qualities eventually produce a winner.

Lucy and the Football- and I’m Charlie Brown

September 27, 2010 Leave a comment

I swear this is my last Monday writing about the Washington Redskins. I thought they were an 8-8 team. They’re not. They’re 6-10, at best. They’re trying harder, but they are essentially losers. It’s in their make-up.

How do you manage to make an opening kick-off go out of bounds? In an indoor stadium. Three different defensive backs fell down on their butts on three different key plays. The punter managed to hurt himself in warm-ups before the game. The starting running back rips off a nice 20+ yard run and then goes down without a hand touching him- like he’s afraid of being hit.

Defense? What Defense? They are now dead last in the NFL in yards given up. Someone sent a comment to the Washington Post alluding to the Redskin’s proclivity to give up huge, morale-crushing big plays when the opposition is facing 3rd and long. He suggested teams should spike the ball on first and second down and just wait for 3rd down on every series.

They lose to possibly the worst team in the NFL, a club that had lost 28 of their last 29 home games. This was tantamount to losing to Detroit last year, snapping the Lion’s 19-game losing streak.

They have a serious head coach and a serious GM now. Both must be wondering what they’ve walked into. The owner has stopped his egotistical meddling. No, this is about the players. They think they’re better than they really are. They’re all hubris and flash and zero substance.

They issue time-worn cliches in their post-game interviews like “we need to put the past behind us and look ahead to the next game.” Precisely the wrong attitude. Put the past front-and-center. Take a real good whiff of it. Look at the pathetic game film over and over. Question how men who make this kind of money can be so thoroughly unprofessional. Look long and hard in the mirror. Don’t put it behind you. Carry the sorry past with you at all times, accept it and vow to change it.

Someone on Facebook warned me about this in the pre-season when the Skins offered glimpses of misplaced hope. He wrote that just like Charlie Brown’s famous Lucy and the football scene, idiots like me would inevitably be teased and consistently let down.

Next week, the Redskins go to Philadelphia to face evisceration by the rejuvenated Michael Vick and the Eagles; Donovan McNabb’s homecoming. Is it possible a team can give up 600 yards? The way Vick is passing and running these days, this is like a match between a, a…I can’t do it. There’s an obvious and bad analogy you can insert [here] that has to do with the heinous actvity that landed Vick in prison for 18 months.

For crying out loud, for the love of God…for the love of dogs…have some self-respect and kick this man from here to Kingdom come.

30-27. Ouch.

September 20, 2010 Leave a comment

This is why this year…they’re an 8-8 team. You blow a 17 point lead, give up 500 yards passing and can’t rush for 30 yards, you have issues. But there’s great progress too. Donovan McNabb is the best QB to wear a Redskin uniform in years.

To the defense’s credit—they had five sacks and held the NFL’s latest, great running back, Arian Foster, to 69 yards. They just got sliced and diced through the air by a scary-good Houston Texan’s offense.

And what’s with the friggin’ special teams? How many times are they going to blow short, game-icing, 4th quarter field goals? Against the Cowboys they had a bad snap and hold. Yesterday, they got a field goal blocked.

But Donovan McNabb was sublime; one of the top three passing days of his career. Everybody thought it was the defense that was going to be bailing out a woeful offense. Who knew it would be the defense sabotaging a great offensive effort. Through the air, that is.

Larry Johnson- what was that? Clinton Portis needed a breather, I guess, so the former all-pro running back comes into the game in the 4th quarter and promptly manages to lose ten yards on a rushing play at the time the Redskins needed to kill clock. Instead of seeing he has no daylight and falling down at the 20, he backs up, tries to go sideways or something and ends up knocked on his ass back to his 10 yard line. Mr. Clutch. Johnson ended up with -7 yards rushing for the day. The coaches pulled him after that bonehead play and he never saw the field again and really…let’s hope he never gets to see it again. Hate to be him in the film room when they go over that puppy.

But the strangest bone-head play was that very odd kick-off return by Houston’s Steve Slaton. Granted the kick was perfect and sort of heading to the sideline, but the poor guy catches the ball, can’t get out of the way of his own feet and ends up out of bounds on his own 1 yard-line. Never seen that before. It should be noted, regretably, that Houston immediately completed a 20 yard pass for a first down to get out of the hole.

And I still haven’t seen an explanation for why Mike Shanahan didn’t try to ice the Houston kicker like they did to our guy when he made, then missed, a 52 yarder that would have won the game. Seems like a punk move to me. How stupid that the NFL allows coaches to do silly, childish things like call a time-out a millisecond before the kicker goes for it. But it worked, didn’t it? So now we all seem like sour-grapes-types.

Speaking of punks….how fun was it watching Dallas get their butts handed to them…at home…by the Chicago Bears? Hey, the Skins are getting much better. They have a real Quarterback and a real Coach. In fact, a whole bunch of really good coaches. They’ll get it together. I’m not upset. This sort of thing builds character.

But at least we got to watch Dallas go 0-2! And guess who the Cowgirls get to play next week? The real team from Texas. Houston- the same club that beat us Sunday and the Colts the week before that. Cannot wait for the championship of the Republic of Texas.

You know, it’s great to love a team like so many of us love the Skins. But how cool is it to really despise a team? It’s priceless, I tell you. One of life’s great pastimes. Go Houston!


September 14, 2010 Leave a comment

They certainly aren’t going to dominate the NFL, but “finding a way to win,” as Coach Shanahan described Sunday night’s victory over the Cowboys- has been a lost art for the Redskins for about 15 years. What they lack in talent they seem to be making up in character.


– The Redskins did not win the game because of luck or a bad call. Tony Romo would have been flat on his back spitting his teeth out like chicklets if Cowboy substitute offensive lineman, Alex Barron hadn’t mugged Skins linebacker Brian Orakpo. That’s why Romo completed the pass.

– It’s nice to see the other team doing stupid things, like the inexplicable Dallas screen pass with 4 seconds left in the 1st half that was supposed to somehow turn into a 64-yard miracle play. Well, ok, it was a miracle when DeAngelo Hall stripped the ball and recovered the fumble he caused and cruised into the end zone. Just not the miracle the Pokes were looking for. Nice front-flip, DeAngelo.

– I like the burgandy and gold uniforms. They were discontinued in 1991 because Skins GM, Bobby Beathard thought after two decades, they had grown rather boring. This was the home uniform under George Allen. The colors Jurgenson wore.

– Amendment to the old rule that you never take points off the board. When the Skins accepted a Cowboy’s offsides penalty after hitting a field goal- it made sense to keep the drive alive. What you’re not supposed to do- is blow a chip-shot field goal by making a bad snap.

– They blew some coverages in the 4th quarter that turned into near disaster, but, overall, the Skins defense is tough and aggressive. See the Baltimore Ravens for teams that won a Superbowl with no offense and a great defense.

– Mike Shanahan is a true leader. My life as a football fan has often revolved as much around the head coach as the players. Only reason I’m a Redskins fan is because I discovered in 1969, that I really wasn’t a Packers fan- I was a Vince Lombardi fan. As soon as Lombardi came to DC- that’s when I started rooting for the Redskins. Mike Shanahan is the kind of no-nonsense, character-first Head Coach that is easy to root for. What the Redskins have lacked for years, is a coach who demands hard work, loyalty and discipline. Vince Lombardi, Joe Gibbs and George Allen had those qualities. Cannot say the same for the parade of losers that have run this team other than those three. Shanahan is right up there in my book.

– I don’t expect the Skins to make the playoffs, but 8-8-0 is a hell of a lot better than 4-12-0. Really- as a long-suffering Skins fan, all I ask is that the team leave us with at least a little dignity. Mondays are always better when you don’t have to come back to work wearing a paper bag over your head.

Silly, Ocassionally Compelling Football News

Training camps across the NFL are in full gear and silliness abounds. Once again, Brett Favre is uncertain about whether he will retire or not. Over at Redskins Park, a rich, fat guy with a bad knee gets more ink than the entire team combined and I can’t get enough of it.

Brett Favre

Back in July, Men’s Journal magazine published an excerpt of an article  by Stephen Rodrick featuring the following quote from a fellow named Buss Cook.  He is, uh, Brett Favre’s agent:

Brett talked to goddamned Ed Werder at ESPN, says he needs ankle surgery. Now why did he do that? I’ve got Childress calling. I’ve got reporters calling all damn morning. Goddammit, why does he have to be such a goddamned drama queen? Play, don’t play, goddamn, people are getting sick of it. I’m getting sick of it! Why does he have to talk to these people?

Several dozen news cycles later, this past Monday, reports surfaced that Favre had decided to hang it up. Wednesday afternoon, Favre talked to the same ESPN guy again, Ed Werder. Bus Cook, I’m sure, is thrilled.

Brett Favre told ESPN’s Ed Werder  in Hattiesburg, Miss., on Wednesday that he has not made any decision about returning to play for the Minnesota Vikings this season and said he will play if healthy.

One is tempted to say “who cares,” and maybe feel a little sorry for a 40-year-old football player who twice before has announced retirement and each time returned for one more dip in the pool.  I, however, prefer to view it as a ritual of summer. The same way you feel when the first stirrings of spring arrive in March that remind you that warmer temperatures and baseball are coming soon. Another Brett Favre drama-queen moment of indecision- Ah! Football is right around the corner!

Albert Haynesworth

I admit it. I eat up articles about Albert Haynesworth. He is the immensely large man who accepted a $21 million bonus and then thought a voluntary mini-camp was really voluntary and didn’t show up. He tried to get himself traded. Didn’t want to play nose tackle in a 3-4 defense. Whatever.

As a loyal Redkins fan, I have been captivated not by their prospects as a competitive team, but over the last few years, anyway, by the sordid dramas they generate in the wake of allegedly maturing Redskins owner, Daniel Snyder’s insane antics. Like signing this Haynesworth guy to the largest contract in football and then promising him he could play any position he wanted.  Ok, that’s the Daniel Snyder of the past, but the legacy lives on.

Albert is being put through a public relations ringer at Redskins Park on these hot humid days. There’s a new sheriff in town.  Redskins coach, Mike Shanahan, a man who once fined Denver Bronco’s players for not arriving early to meetings, is not allowing Haynesworth to practice until he passes some physical tests that include a 300 yard sprint in 25-yard intervals. He’s supposed to complete them in 70 seconds the first try, then after a little rest, run it again in 72 seconds. He missed by a second last week and hasn’t tried it again since because he’s developed a legitimately bum knee.

Numerous cameras have captured his sad, humiliated presence on the sideline watching his teammates work out. More than one of them have been quoted as saying he hasn’t been around in so long, they don’t much remember Albert Haynesworth anymore.

These kind of articles I want more of. A little less Favre and a little more Haynesworth would suit me just fine. Justice is a much more compelling storyline than indecision.

Clueless Newsmakers of the Week


Frankly, there are quite a few but two that stand out; that make you wonder if they exist in the same universe as the rest of us.  Clueless Wonder awards this week to Texas Republican Congressman, Joe Barton and Washington Redskins defensive lineman, Albert Haynesworth.

 Joe Barton

In the most conspicuous act of political suicide in ages, Congressman Barton, in prepared remarks at the House committee hearing that featured BP CEO, Tony Heyward, yesterday, infamously apologized to the oil giant for having been forced to set up a $20 billion “Slush Fund” by President Obama.

Let’s turn to the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank to give us a play-by-play of Thursday’s bizarre act of political self-destruction:

 “I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday,” the Texan said of BP’s offer, under pressure from President Obama, to set aside $20 billion to pay damages to Gulf Coast residents ruined by the oil spill. “I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown.”

Heads of the other committee members spun, cartoon-like, in the direction of Barton. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) froze, her coffee cup suspended equidistant between tabletop and lips. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the panel chairman, scrunched his face and shook his head as though he had just witnessed a bloody wreck.

In a sense, he had. And Barton wasn’t done. The $20 billion BP would pay to those who are now out of work because of the spill is a “slush fund,” he said. Then he did the unthinkable: He apologized to the man whose company is destroying a large piece of the nation. “I apologize,” he said, adding that he doesn’t “want to live in a country” that does such things to poor BP.

There, in front of the cameras, one of the most senior Republicans in the House had suffered an acute attack of Obama Derangement Syndrome. The president had just secured from a British oil company a promise to set aside $20 billion to help devastated Americans — and Barton had sided with the firm that has devastated the Gulf of Mexico.

Turns out Rep. Barton has received more campaign contributions from the oil industry than any other member of the House.  A more loyal friend could not be found.   The man was so clueless about what had just happened that during the lunch recess, as he was on his way to meet with outraged leaders of his own party, he was approached by a reporter who asked if he had any comment to calls for his immediate ouster as the ranking Republican on the energy committee.  From

He said calls for his ouster were “news to me” as he went to meet with Boehner and Cantor. Asked whether he planned to stay in his job, he replied, “Damn straight.”

In the next few minutes he was handed an ultimatum.  Apologize for your apology to BP or you will be stripped of your ranking status on the committee by the end of the afternoon.  

 It is truly remarkable that in about one short 3-minute period, the White House that had looked so feckless and helpless in the oil spill fiasco, that itself, had been so tin-eared and clueless at the outset of one of the worst ecological disasters in American history had been handed such a gift- a Republican villain in the BP Spill story.

Albert Haynesworth

 For those of you who don’t know about this creep, Albert Haynesworth is the highest paid defensive lineman in the NFL, brought in by the Washington Redskins last year and apparently told by owner, Daniel Snyder that he’d be allowed to play the position any way he wanted to.  Fast forward a year and there’s a new coach in town who wants Albert to play a different position as part of what’s called a 3-4 defense.  

He demanded to be traded. He refused to attend voluntary training sessions. The Skins tried to dump his sorry ass but apparently no other team wanted to swallow his bloated salary or a $20 million bonus that was due to him in the Spring.    Coach Mike Shanahan made it clear- if we can’t trade you and you take this $20 million bucks, we expect you to play whatever position we decide. 

He took the money and then refused to show up to mandatory training sessions and this week, reiterated his intent to leave Washington and play elsewhere.

His teammates have turned against him, calling him selfish. The fans, of course, loath him.   He has burned every bridge he had in Washington and now possibly, across the NFL.  And if the Redskins can’t get rid of him, he will remain a cancer on the team for the entire season.

Cut him.  Swallow the losses and cut him.  Let the millions of dollars in losses burn a great big hole in Dan Snyder’s pockets as a lesson to not be such a chump about bringing in high-priced free-agent divas.

Darwinian Theory

It’s called the law of natural selection.  Only the best of a species survive.  Each of this week’s recipients of the Clueless Newsmaker of the Week award has shown their unique talent for self-destruction.  While interesting to watch in the uncomfortable way a gruesome car accident is impossible to ignore, it will be better for the world when these two gentlemen finally succumb to their inevitable fate and become a mere footnote in history.

Vinny Cerrato Out; Redskins Fortunes Up

December 17, 2009 Leave a comment

Vinny’s gone!

Really, in the end, in the NFL, it’s not about high-priced free agents and big-name coaches.  It’s about building organizations from the ground up.  It’s about scouting and making draft picks that become the core of a team for years.  It’s about bringing in lower-priced free agents who grow and flourish.  It’s the GM’s office that matters most.   That’s what Bobby Beathard and then Charlie Casserly brought to the Redskins in their glory years.  

And so we have news this morning that Owner Dan Snyder’s good buddy, the much-maligned GM, Vinny Ceratto is gone…to be replaced by veteran NFL front office guy, Bruce Allen, son of George Allen, father of the Over-the-Hill gang, a guy with a pedigree and direct link to the first iteration of Redskins glory.

This could be a really important turning point for a once legendary franchise.  For once, this isn’t about landing a $100 million free agent in the twilight of a career.  It’s not about the revolving door of coaches that have made fans dizzy for the decade Daniel Snyder has run the team.  Ironically, it may result in the hiring of another coach, but maybe one that will competently execute the results of the rebuilding process on the field; one that will stick around for more than a season or two.     

This is a big deal for Redskins fans.  I never thought I’d live to say this but- good move, Dan Snyder.  Keeping hope alive.

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Shaun Suisham Gets Cut!

December 8, 2009 2 comments

I guess there really are consequences for missing chip-shot field goals that cost your team victories, like the 23-yarder he missed right against the Saints Sunday. I don’t mean to quote myself…but this is what I penned about the Redskins kicker just yesterday. I wish him well. In another line of work. I also mispelled his name. Sorry, Shaun. I got it right today, though.

This man, Swisham, is the same guy I strongly suspect drove legendary coach Joe Gibbs back into retirement. Two years ago, after Gibbs had rallied the team following the horrible and untimely shooting death of star Free Safety, Sean Taylor; after they clawed and scratched their way into the playoffs and to a first round win against Tampa Bay- this guy Swisham missed right on a similarly easy, 30-yard field goal against the Seattle Seahawks, just as the Skins had managed an inspired and epic comeback. Gibbs would never say such a thing, but it was no surprise to me he retired the following year- and it had to be Swisham. You just don’t go through what Gibbs did that season, mend a team that had been grief-stricken at the loss of one of their teammates, rally them into an improbable playoff appearance, be one game away from the NFC championship and watch it all melt away because a 27–year old with a penchant for failure in the clutch, can’t make a little, baby field goal attempt.

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The NFL- How the Mighty Have Fallen

December 7, 2009 3 comments

If you follow professional football, this past Sunday was one of those days that humble the nimblest of prognosticators. There was one upset after another but three games in particular that are worth mentioning as case studies in humility and perverse psychology; the Pittsburgh Steelers last second loss to the lowly Oakland Raiders, the New England Patriot’s defeat at the hands of the Miami Dolphins and, the doozy of them all- the crushing collapse of the Washington Redskins who were poised to shock the mighty and undefeated New Orleans Saints.

All three are storied franchises. Two of them, Pittsburgh and New England are newly in decline; the Redskins have been a complete basket case for years now.


The Steelers, of course, are the defending Super Bowl champs. They’ve lost four straight now and in excruciating fashion, giving up late 4th quarter leads. They’ve suddenly become unable to close the deal. And two of their four losses have come against the dregs of the NFL, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders. Their offense is fine. Their defense is suspect. People who know these things say they don’t have much of a pass rush anymore and just can’t put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. This leads to things like an Oakland Raider quarterback named Bruce Gradkowski throwing touchdown passes against them with 9 seconds left to play.

New England

The saga of the last three games for the New England Patriots has been fascinating in a macabre sort of way.

It started with the game against Peyton Manning and the still undefeated Indianapolis Colts when Bill Belichick, one of the great coaches in the history of the game took one of the strangest and most unorthodox chances of the last fifty years and decided to go for it on a 4th down situation from their own 27-yard line when all they had to do was keep the Colts from scoring a touchdown with about 2 minutes to play.

Instead of safely punting the ball away, the fabled Tom Brady completed the pass, but the receiver juggled the ball just enough to fall inches short. Enter Peyton Manning with a short field- touchdown pass- game over. People will talk about that decision for years. If the Patriots had gotten the 1st down they could have run out the clock and walked off with a victory. Basically, it was the biggest riverboat gamble since John McCain picked Sarah Palin as his running mate.

In the next game, against the New Orleans Saints who are sporting one of the most prolific offenses in the history of the game, the Patriots were blown out and didn’t look like they belonged on the same field. Highly uncharacteristic. So after a crushing and humiliating defeat, you’d figure the best coach in history would have his players tuned up for a game against the Miami Dolphins who are a .500 team. After starting the contest off with a 14-0 lead it all fell horribly apart as the Dolphins awakened like Lazarus and kicked a last second field goal to send residents of New England into deep sorrow.


And then there are the Washington Redskins. After the glory years of Head Coach Joe Gibbs and the wonderful ownership of Jack Kent Cooke, self-made millionaire, Daniel Snyder bought the team ten years ago and they’ve never been quite the same.

Now widely acknowledged as the single worst owner in the NFL, he has literally been a case study in dysfunctional management as expressed most accurately in this piece  by Washington Post columnist, Sally Jenkins several months ago. He is a micro manager. He meddles, spends large bucks on old and decaying free agents, drives his own coaches nuts, sues his own fans in the middle of a recession when they can no longer make payments on their season tickets, and most recently, showed disdain for the 1st amendment by sending goon squads into the stadium in an attempt to ban derogatory signs brought in by disgruntled fans.

The Redskin season effectively ended many weeks ago so the passionate hatred for Snyder has eased somewhat mostly due to indifference. The players have shown heart in the last three games, playing tough teams close and finding one way or another to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory. But what happened yesterday at Fedex field in Landover, Maryland was beyond description.

They led the undefeated New Orleans Saints for most of the afternoon, poised for one of the greatest upsets of all time. But strange, very strange things began happening. A Redskin player intercepts a ball, then fumbles it and it gets returned for a touchdown. With about 2 minutes to play and getting ready to hit a short 23 yard field goal that would have put the Skins up by 10 and sealed the game, kicker Shaun Swisham, missed a chip shot. The Saints went on to score a game-tying touchdown, lost the coin-toss for overtime, but still managed to eventually march down the field to kick the game-winning field goal.

This man, Swisham, is the same guy I strongly suspect drove legendary coach Joe Gibbs back into retirement. Two years ago, after Gibbs had rallied the team following the horrible and untimely shooting death of star Free Safety, Sean Taylor; after they clawed and scratched their way into the playoffs and to a first round win against Tampa Bay- this guy Swisham missed right on a similarly easy, 30-yard field goal against the Seattle Seahawks, just as the Skins had managed an inspired and epic comeback. Gibbs would never say such a thing, but it was no surprise to me he retired the following year- and it had to be Swisham. You just don’t go through what Gibbs did that season, mend a team that had been grief-stricken at the loss of one of their teammates, rally them into an improbable playoff appearance, be one game away from the NFC championship and watch it all melt away because a 27–year old with a penchant for failure in the clutch, can’t make a little, baby field goal attempt.

The Take Away

So where to now and what are the lessons learned from the losses these three teams suffered on one Sunday afternoon in December? For fans of the defending champion Steelers, you accept your team has won two of the last four Super Bowls and hope they draft some really good defensive linemen next year. For New England, you accept a certain amount of humility and hope Bill Belichick can find a little too someday. And for the Redskins- you send Shaun Swisham to a sports psychologist to learn the art of visualizing success, owner Dan Snyder to a basic seminar on executive management and his players to a course on dealing with difficult people in case Snyder’s management seminar doesn’t take. And for those of us who follow this stuff and think we know what we’re talking about: we know nothing.