Sports Weekend Update

As great as last weekend was for sports, this weekend is (so far) almost its polar opposite.

Phillies: A good, if scary, win yesterday, but it didn’t matter. With the Dodgers and Padres both winning, the Phillies barely missed the playoffs, breaking my heart in the process. Again. Don’t fret, though. Like every spring before, I’ll be back next year, as gullible and full of optimism as ever when pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater.

Virginia Tech: Having attended last week’s dogfight against Cincinnati, I knew we weren’t the 11th best team in college football. Running into a quality conference opponent scared me. And we lost. It was one of the more frustrating losses we’ve had in recent memory, for we were terrible in every aspect. But I can’t lie and say I was surprised. Until we start blocking for Sean Glennon, the other faults we discovered won’t matter. A one game deficit in the division standings is hardly insurmountable, so hope remains.

Redskins: The Redskins face Jacksonville this afternoon. Jacksonville is good. Their defense against our offense will likely result in a loss for the Redskins. I’ll watch the entire game, regardless, because I’m that way.

Sunday Redskins Blogging – Game ⅕

Tonight the Washington Redskins host the Cincinnati Bengals in the first preseason game leading to the 2006 kickoff next month. Preseason games don’t mean much in the course of the season, as they’re a chance for teams to find their rhythm more than anything. The first preseason game means the least. Starters will play one series, just to get the feel of the game again. I’m still excited.

I’m looking forward to seeing the Redskins juggernaut begin the campaign. I want to see how Antwaan Randle El and Brandon Lloyd fit into Al Saunders’ new offense. I want to see if Mark Brunnell’s resurgence was a one-year contract with the devil or a harbinger of the good times still to come in his career. I want to see Clinton Portis pound the ball up the middle. I want to see Sean Taylor and Adam Archuletta compete to see who can hit Rudi Johnson the hardest. I want Redskins football.

Just as interesting to me, I’ll scout my fantasy team. I have to decide if I want to keep Chad Johnson over Domanick Davis, and this will be a brief first look at Carson Palmer’s reconstructed knee. Johnson says he wants to break Jerry Rice’s single season record of 22 receiving touchdowns; I don’t want to miss that if he might. So I’ll pretend I’m a GM tonight.

To get you into the mood, enjoy the magnetic pull of Captain Chaos, as well as a few pictures I took last weekend at the Redskins-Ravens scrimmage.






Hail to the Redskins!

What’s next, “Washington football club”?

Reading The Washington Post today, I came across this article about the Seattle Times. Consider:

To avoid insulting native American heritage, the Seattle Times decided to limit severely the use of the term Redskins in the paper — even if a team with that name will dominate news coverage this week. The Times will not use the moniker in headlines or captions. Reporters can use it only once, as a first reference, in all stories. The Redskins will be referred to almost exclusively as Washington — which could get a little confusing for local readers who also live in that state.

It’s especially stupid when noting that linebacker Marcus Washington is the best Redskins defensive player. Rather than prattle on further, I think it’ll be interesting to point out how this supposed sensitivity reads as journalism. From this article, “Gibbs’ guys beat back Buccaneers”, the ridiculousness becomes clear.

“It’s been a tough fight these last six weeks,” said linebacker Marcus Washington, who recovered a fumble and had a fourth-quarter interception. “We ain’t ready to go home yet, so we’re going to keep sawing wood.”

The Bucs got one more chance, taking over at their 46 after a 14-yard punt with 1:05 to go. But Simms’ first-down pass was tipped at the line and intercepted by Washington, and Washington ran out the clock.

Washington stopped Carnell “Cadillac” Williams for a 1-yard gain, forcing a fumble that the linebacker recovered before scrambling to his feet and taking off with the ball.

Tampa Bay’s Dan Buenning punched the ball loose from Washington at the 41 before Taylor scooped it up at the 49 and raced to the end zone for a 14-0 lead. The Bucs challenged the TD, but the score was upheld by replay.

Why exactly is the name “Redskins” so bad? Is it better to potentially not insult a portion of readers, or to provide a persistent lack of clarity in that article? I’d go with the notion that the Seattle Times would better serve its readers with information than morality.

For more insight into the paper’s political correctness, enjoy this screenshot of the header for Saturday’s game.

Anyone care to imply that Joe Gibbs is washed up?

I can’t let the Redskins’ glorious demolishing of the hated Cowboys last night fade away without linking to a story about my new favorite basketball player, Darrell Armstrong. Behold:

The Redskins wrapped up a 35-7 victory over the Cowboys shortly before the Mavericks left the locker room to play the Timberwolves.

As part of the pregame ceremonies, guard Devin Harris wished the crowd a happy holiday. Then Armstrong, who wasn’t scheduled to speak, asked for the microphone. He added his holiday wishes, then made his fine-inducing proclamation, a twist on a famous line by former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson.

In Dallas (Mr. Armstrong plays for the Dallas Mavericks), he exclaimed “How ’bout those Redskins!” Mr. Armstrong is my new hero.

Search Mike Alstott for the two points he stole

After yesterday’s game debacle for the Redskins in Tampa, I hope all Buccaneers fans have to go through tedious, invasive searches. That doesn’t mean I don’t think they have a point, just that I don’t wish them relief.

Millions of fans attending National Football League games this season have undergone mandatory security frisks, and at FedEx Field the lines often back up to dozens of people. The tactic is one of the best ways to deter suicide bombs and other terrorist plots, league officials say, and most fans simply outstretch their arms and undergo it without objection.

But [Gordon] Johnston, a mild-mannered season ticket-holder from the nosebleed seats, has begun to raise a far-reaching ruckus. After suing the Tampa Sports Authority in October, Johnston won a court victory last week that at least temporarily halts the pat-downs at Raymond James Stadium, where the Washington Redskins are scheduled to play Sunday.

He said he dislikes being touched by “a total stranger” and believes that the potential terrorist threat has been wildly exaggerated. And with his initial court success, Johnston has become either a champion of civil liberties or a meddler whose challenge is, by restricting security measures, endangering the lives of his fellow fans.

“Hey, this is the United States of America,” Johnston said. “If you allow this, then it goes to all the other sporting events, then it spreads to restaurants and malls and every place there’s a group of people, then pretty soon what do we turn into?”

Possibly, he said, “a police state.”

I’ve been to probably a dozen games at FedEx Field Jack Kent Cooke Stadium in the four years since Septmber 11, 2001 and have experienced the same security scrutiny that Mr. Johnston complains about. I don’t have the same level of passion against such searches that Mr. Johnston feels, even though I admit to not thinking too much about the legal foundation underlying the searches. I also trust that, when the process becomes a hassle, people will stay home and watch on television. Football’s (and other sports) owners will deal with the consequences of their policies. I am glad that people like Mr. Johnston care enough to challenge the policy and fight for the underlying principles of limited government, whether the facts warrant such consideration.

Personally, I have problem with the stupidity involved.

The NFL policy calls for every ticket-holder to stand with arms extended to be patted from the waist up.

“What’s to prevent . . . hands to accidentally go other wheres,” he testified.

Forget the possibility of hands going other wheres. It’s a legitimate concern and should be dealt with by the police if it occurs. But that’s getting stuck on stupid while ignoring the obvious. Patted from the waist up doesn’t cause alarm for anyone in the NFL so concerned with fan and team safety. What’s to prevent someone from strapping explosives to legs and other wheres? If the defense is that it’ll be obvious, why will it be? The NFL will play its games in the next three months in generally cold weather. Cold weather will allow for bulky clothes. How many terrorists with explosives strapped underneath their zubas do we need before someone learns that, if it’s valid (and legal) to search fans in this way, “from the waist up” is a stupid policy. Enemies adapt, especially when the policy is public knowledge. (I am NOT advocating making such information secret, of course.) Strategies like this offer little more than a happy sensation that we’re doing something, probably for the children more than anyone.

Boo! Or is it Boo Hoo?

The Redskins lost today. Despite a valient effort, we were thwarted at every critical moment. Missed tackles, blown coverages, bad officiating and stupid turnovers cost us when we could least afford it. Even though we played well enough to win, fate interceded on behalf of the country.

I always knew that the Redskins are the greatest franchise in football, capable of life-altering brilliance. Little did I know that the team is psychic. Consider:

If history holds, the 28-14 result portends a victory for Kerry on Tuesday because the result of the Redskins’ final home game before the presidential election has always accurately predicted the White House winner. If the Redskins win, the incumbent party wins. If they lose, the incumbent party is ousted.

The streak began in 1933, when the Boston Braves were renamed the Redskins. Since then, beginning with Franklin Roosevelt’s re-election in 1936, the trend has held, including a 2000 Redskins loss to the Tennessee Titans that predicted George W. Bush’s win over Al Gore.

I hate to see the Redskins lose, but I have to make my sacrifice for my country in its time a great need. And more importantly, thank you, Mark Brunell, for taking your quarterback suckiness to astonishing new heights. The country owes you a debt of gratitude.

P.S. Sorry, Will, the only way Nader could’ve won was if the game had ended in a tie. Alas, no such luck.

Hail to the Redskins

Version 2.0 of the Joe Gibbs era is underway. Consider this from an article in The Washington Post:

He is trying to motivate his players by rallying them around the notion that Washington was once a great franchise and that by emulating former Redskins stars this year’s team can have similar success. Barely a day goes by that Gibbs does not remind them of the greatness that once defined the franchise, of the honor they should feel wearing a Redskins uniform, of the uncommon bond between the team and its passionate fans.

That’s why Joe Gibbs is important to the Redskins. He brings the history and respect back to the franchise. We had some of that as a holdover when he retired after the 1992 season, but it dissipated soon after Norv Turner arrived in 1994. Coach Gibbs commands respect and will restore that (has restored it already) as it deserves. Consider:

“A true Redskin is a dedicated player,” cornerback Fred Smoot said, “a guy who is there all the time, everyday, a professional. We’re talking about a true athlete; you’ve got some athletes and then you’ve got a pure professional who you don’t have to worry about them. Hell, they can run the whole defense themselves because they know so much about what’s going on. Being a Redskin is being accountable for everything you’re doing, being a leader, speaking up for what you believe in and being yourself.

“We’re restoring it, man, because it’s a privilege to be a Redskin.”

It’s a huge privilege to play for the Redskins. I love the Redskins and I’m glad to see that there is a core of guys that understand that. It’s only going to get better under Coach Gibbs.

I’m not going to get overly optimistic since it’s still only week 1. Even in victory we made some mistakes that can’t continue, but this team looks solid. A balanced game plan, well-executed fundamentals, and an intensity that had been lacking for a decade are a trio of accomplishments that have Joe Gibbs’s signature stamped squarely on them. And the Clinton Portis adventure? The first time he touched the football, he scored a 64-yard touchdown.

God I wish I was in that game!

Hog Heaven

I remember reading the news that Joe Gibbs had retired as head coach of the Redskins. It was March 5, 1993 and I was in college, sitting at my desk, surfing the news on Prodigy. This was the first major news in which the internet was my source.

Joe Gibbs was the only head coach I’d ever known as a Redskins fan. He was the glory years. He’d focused the team and won 3 Super Bowls with 3 different quarterbacks. When he retired, I didn’t know how watching football would ever be fun again.

Guess what? It wasn’t any fun in the beginning. I lost the passion for several years. I still enjoyed watching the games, never missing a Sunday. Even as the team started to gel under Norv Turner, ever so briefly, I got excited but it was never the same.

Wins weren’t as exciting and losses weren’t as depressing. Over time, I realized that this change was a good thing. It coincided with growing up and maturing, but it helped me put sports in the proper perspective. It’s just a game. But I’ve missed the passion.

With the rumor, then announcement, that Joe Gibbs is returning as head coach of the Redskins, I’m stunned that this is happening. I can’t sit still. I’m getting goose bumps. For the first time in 11 years, I’m passionate about the Redskins.

Since the Redskins began to tank this past season, I’ve been excited about the upcoming baseball season. I’ve never had my baseball team win a World Series and the Phillies are legitimate contenders this year. Yet, I can’t wait until July for the Redskins to open training camp. Can’t wait.

If I’d been coherent at the time of my post earlier this morning (yes, the words are supposed to be jumbled), I would’ve written a love letter to the first Joe Gibbs era that would read like this.

The “first Joe Gibbs era”… Which means there is now a second Joe Gibbs era. My brother and I have dreamed of this day every offseason for the last 11 years. The reality is so much sweeter than the dream ever was.