As I wrote on Father's Day http://bit.ly/1bKCyd8; Sunday was a pretty emotional and tough day for me this year.
I knew in advance it was going to be tough but a full week earlier I had a chance to show my support, recognize a great effort and also get a bonus Father's Day present.
A day with my two kids, at work. Only my 'work' happens to be at a fairly cool office as in Redskins Park.
A Saturday driving 130 round trip miles is not usually my idea of fun but when you can create some lifelong memories and a bond along with seeing many other children with a smile, it is completely worth it.
Last Saturday wasn't just any typical day. It was a special day that will live in my mind for a long time. Redskins fans know Tyler Polumbus as the starting right tackle for the NFC East Division Champions. Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen thought enough of Polumbus to bring him to Washington and retain his services with a multi-year deal this past off-season.
In 2013, He'll be carving holes for the NFL's # 1 rushing offense from 2012. Polumbus is a big part of an offensive line that played virtually the entire season together.
Last Saturday, he was creating smiles and genuine moments that will last a lifetime and go far beyond any game, season or Alfred Morris rush.
Polumbus, along with many of his Redskins teammates and Dawn Ridz who serves as Executive Director for "Tyler's Kids Outreach" put on a clinic. No, not a football clinic. A how to be a great human being clinic.
For the fourth consecutive year, Polumbus and Ridz along with many volunteers and with the support of the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation put on an event called the "TKO Football Camp." The camp is not any usual run-of-the-mill football camp that features an NFL player who almost feels he has to do something to justify his lofty status.
This is completely different. This is special. The TKO Football Camp is not for 'able-bodied children' and certainly not a paid camp, which is how Ridz explained that Polumbus and his wife Liz started on this journey. Polumbus had an experience with those type of camps through Polumbus' former teammates in Seattle. He wanted something more rewarding. As Ridz explains, the camp gained roots in Boulder, Colorado.
Polumbus' cousin was involved in a community center in East Boulder that specialized in organizing fun activities for special needs children. Polumbus was asked to join in on some events and the passion for helping kids with special needs was fueled from there. They held their first official camp for children with special needs and never looked back. As Ridz says "We were all so clearly affected by the camp we had just run. We decided that we never wanted to hold a camp for able-bodied kids again."
"Working with this special group of children was so much more rewarding for both us and them," Ridz told me. I know this to be true. My son Tyler has Down Syndrome and strong sensory dysfunction and is the greatest challenge I have ever met. Make no mistake the rewards are measured differently when you live it and breathe it every day. Still the accomplishments and the pride you feel takes your breath away.
Polumbus signed with the Redskins in the latter part of the 2011 season and from there it was time to build the next chapter of his NFL career while continuing to reach out with the outreach arm of TKO.
While Polumbus worked on his craft on the field, Ridz worked with Tyler and the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation for guidance. Ridz started the coordination and planning with a woman named Jordana Taylor who ran most of the player programs for the foundation before leaving at the end of 2012. "I asked for guidance about organizations that focused their outreach efforts on special needs children. She gave me a list of four or five organizations that she wanted to work with. I researched each of the organizations and felt that "Dreams for Kids" was the best fit for a potential "TKO" partner," Ridz told ESPN 980.
The connection was made between "Dreams for Kids" and "Tyler's Kids Outreach" and everything started to fall into place. Last year, the first camp was held near FedExField but Ridz and Polumbus wanted to make it easier for players and families to attend and participate by moving the annual event to Redskins Park. "So much planning goes into an event like this. I have been working since December with the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation to let them know we wanted to do this camp again this year. Our planning efforts went kicked into high gear once we knew that Tyler would again be with the Redskins in 2013," Ridz said.
It turns out that Ridz struck gold pretty quickly, with Taylor and the Foundation's help along with "Dreams for Kids." She says that DTK has been "an amazing partner for us."
The camp was simply a wonderful event. My son Tyler was having a rough day because he woke up very early and the chaos and energy of all of the kids and families was a little too much for him to handle at times. Even though some parts of the day were challenging, Tyler and his assistant "B-F" (as he calls her, for best friend) or Natalie (my daughter & Tyler's big little sister) got to run the 10-yard dash and beat Kory Lichtensteiger. Tyler got to play catch and be on the other end of a 'touchdown' pass from Kirk Cousins. Young linebacker Ricky Elmore could not have been more friendly and outgoing with all of the kids, but especially Tyler who has a constant need for hugs and affection.
Many other Redskins players participated in the event on the seldom used turf field. Chris Chester, Will Montgomery, Josh LeRibeus, Kedric Golston, Xavier Nixon, Josh Morgan (surprise!), Jordan Bernstine and others all coordinated combine style drills with an emphasis on fun and light teaching. The goal? A lot of smiles, self confidence and the ability to believe that the kids 'CAN,' as Ridz puts it. "The TKO Football camp/Extreme Recess is about telling these amazing kids that they CAN. Their whole lives, these kids have been told they cannot do so many things. They have been told they are different," Ridz said.
"The whole day we are their cheerleaders with high fives, hugs and cheers."
I can speak from personal experience. I probably won't see many of these children until next year's event, but it is so rewarding for me to have high fived Noah or asked Charlie if he was having a great day. "You can see the impact on the children, their siblings and their entire family during the event through their smiles and the laughter -- the hugs and the fun had by everyone involved," Ridz says.
Tyler plays "Challenger Baseball" every Saturday during the spring season, so I am used to a game or event in which everybody wins and no score is really kept. You can't provide the infrastructure for these memories without good people that want to truly help. There are many volunteers that makes days and events like this happen, no matter if it is Special Olympics, or Challenger Baseball or the "TKO Football Camp."
Volunteers often get paid at events like this, by their own memories. It's always great to give back but when you receive more than you can give, the feeling is exhilarating. "As the camp was winding down, volunteer after volunteer came up to me to hug and thank me for allowing them to be involved as they were touched by the experience," Ridz said.
"TKO" also is able to create high quality video and photography from the event which not only provides a lasting memory for the kids and families involved, but serves another purpose."When our pictures and videos make it to the airwaves and wider audiences get to see what we do, our camp helps breaks down the stereotypes about developmentally and physically disabled children," according to Ridz.
The event also takes support of a different kind. The NFL Foundation provided a grant to help fund the event. In addition to "Dreams for Kids" and the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation, Delta Produce along with a partnership with Three Brothers Italian Restaurant provided a terrific lunch with an abundance of high quality subs, fruit and cookies for the entire event. Both companies have already committed to helping future events. Maximus Foundation also provided significant support to the event and "Dreams for Kids" by providing a grant and about 15 volunteers.
Ridz and Polumbus know this is just the beginning. This clearly is an annual event dedicated to allowing special children to feel special about themselves. "Every year we do this camp, I spend most of my day on the verge of tears because there are so many touching moments," Ridz allowed. "It might be Tyler helping a child through a drill or giving encouragement to them by running the drill with them. Other times, it's a parent that comes over to me and asks to hug me for the work that we do for their child. They thank me for allowing their child to be a kid and play!"
I can speak from the heart on this one. As a father of a child with special needs, every day has challenges. Every day feels unfair at times. Days like last weekend at Redskins Park and the TKO Football Camp make the struggles feel so minimal and the smiles last forever. It makes every day feel like Father's Day.
For pictures from the 2013 TKO Football Camp, please click here http://on.fb.me/11HOmqX . (Courtesy of Peter Chuong Photography)
Please support Tyler's Kids Outreach in any way that you can. Visit www.tkoprogram.org to view pictures, videos and get more information on future events. Contact Dawn Ridz directly at TKOProgram@gmail.com.
As a sports reporter, we want athletes and coaches to be honest. We want them to reveal their thoughts and plans. How do you feel? Why did you do this? How come you made that decision?
As a radio talk show host, you live for famous targets to open their mouth and never shut it. Keep on adding logs to the fire, even as the calendar turns to June.
YOU want something to talk about, something to fuel the flames. It makes your life a lot easier, and quite honestly most members of the media are not able or willing to really get into the hard core x's and o's of a game, so a verbal gift reduces your time spent searching for something to talk about.
I am going to go against everything I should believe in and stand for. I am going to do it, because it's the right thing to do. Here's a bit of advice.
When it comes to "RG Knee" and anything that has transpired since that rainy Sunday in early December against the Baltimore Ravens, everybody involved and that means EVERYBODY has to just zip their lips.
Yes, sorry to say this but that includes you Mike Shanahan. I can't forget about Robert Griffin III or Robert Griffin Jr. No disrespect to anybody, and it is a free country to say what you feel. I get that. It's hard to resist. I struggle with that internal battle in a public forum all the time. I get it.
Here's the thing. The less you say, the better. If you say nothing about the past, that's preferred. At least from a Redskins standpoint. Nobody should really care if the media needs something to talk about, or if you are asked consistently. Just say No. Or do what Bill Belichick does, and be terse.
It sounds simple, and it is undeniably much harder to execute. However, this is a professional football team that won a division and ten games last year, before everything came crashing down on January 6th at FedExField.
Don't talk about it anymore. Feel free to talk about the recovery and the progress. That's great. Certainly, we would love to hear about a setback if one should occur. There's no good, and nothing but bad feelings that can be gained from talking about it again.
Thursday was closure, and if I was Mike Shanahan - I would call a 'meeting of the minds' which would include PR Chief Tony Wyllie, GM Bruce Allen (who has also mastered the art of dodging the media), Robert Griffin III, Robert Griffin Jr. & Howard Skall of CAA, who represents Griffin's agency and is very skilled at media relations.
In this meeting, I would make it very clear to anybody and everybody that ENOUGH is ENOUGH. No more. If you are asked about the past, don't answer it.
Respectfully decline the question or deflect it. "That's in the past" or "There's nothing we can do now except move forward" or even a "I am not going to go down that road anymore, out of respect to everyone involved."
If I was Shanahan, I would make it very clear that this is an organizational challenge to be on the same page. Not everybody is going to always agree or be in perfect harmony. Families and companies have to be on the same page, in order to move forward and take on the land mines that lay ahead. Even if there are disagreements. I live it every day. It happens in your home, in your office and with your friends.
I know it's hard. Trust me, I disagree plenty with how things are done in every way in my life. That's honesty. I carefully limit if not totally prevent myself from communicating those thoughts in a public forum, because what positives can come out of it? Do I feel better? Maybe. One thing I have learned over my career, nobody wants to be around somebody who whines and cries constantly, and is obnoxious about it.
Yesterday at Redskins Park, both Robert Griffin III and Mike Shanahan handled themselves just fine and it was good to wrap it up. I would have done this two months ago, but what do I know? Next week, both parties will speak again and other than what new progress the star quarterback has made, nothing else should be said.
By now, you have seen the quotes. You have heard the sound bytes. You know that despite the claims that they 'hashed everything out," a memory like that only fades and never truly goes away.
It will come up again, and again, and yet again. If it's RG III's Dad talking to Leon Harris of ABC 7, Mike Shanahan talking to one of a handful of national writers (Peter King, Albert Breer), Robert speaking to ESPN the Magazine or quite honestly anybody, the situation will be hashed and re-hashed.
Griffin III seemed to indicate that's where he is heading, telling reporters "We are moving forward from it. I told you guys that before and I will say it again. That's all I can say. We talked about it, we are on the same page and we are ready to go."
Good. Leave it at that. Don't talk about it anymore. This will be especially important if and when Robert gets injured again or something doesn't look right.
Griffin fired a pre-emptory strike about that issue as well, saying "I just feel like everyone is going to be very hypersensitive, about anything that happens with me. My biggest fear is that I roll an ankle and they pull me out of the game, and that is being serious."
Griffin is refreshingly honest and I believe real. There's nothing really fake about him. He's feisty and to some degree, he is stubborn. Remember what he said after the Cleveland game, when he was not cleared to play. He was upset. He was real. He is emotional. He's also young, and there is a lot of pressure to say everything the right way.
Griffin III would be wise to be more like Tom Brady in this regard. Mike Shanahan would be wise to be more like Bill Belichick and even though this would hurt the media, it would go a long way to helping the Redskins through the choppy waters.
Bottom line, Just zip it. It's the only way the drama will cease and desist. There's been enough nonsense in the franchise to last a lifetime. Everybody should be on the same page, and the only way to make sure that happens, is to limit the words and have everybody buy in.
The Washington Redskins will move south for the summer beginning on Thursday July 25th, but the real work is in the process of being completed now.
Not that a roster of 90 guys won't be working hard under the boiling sun that downtown Richmond, Virginia is sure to bring, but in order for that to happen a facility must be built. A "Field of Dreams" as Redskins General Manager & Executive Vice President Bruce Allen called it.
Construction officially began on January 9th at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center at 2401 West Leigh Street, not far away from the Richmond Squirrels minor league baseball stadium and right off the Boulevard exit and I-95. It's nestled right by Children's Museum of Richmond and the Science Museum.
It's scheduled to be completed by June 30th, and features a main facility building for multiple uses, along with a 92 player locker room and a premier workout facility that will be used throughout the year, but specifically designed for the Redskins.
During a hard-hat tour on Monday afternoon, the Redskins and city officials made it clear that while work still had to be done -- it won't ruin the good feelings and the real purpose (they say) of going away to training camp.
"Being in the same hotel together, living with each other. It's no different than what the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts do from the very beginning. It creates a special bond. It's not a secret or coincidence that only four Super Bowl winners haven't gone away for training camp. There's a special uniqueness and camraderie that you can build," Bruce Allen said.
Allen mentioned that the facility might be so state-of-the-art and new that the players won't have to endure some of the unique challenges that a off-site training camp might bring.
"We knew what we needed at this training camp, for this limited time. It's actually going to be a little bit nicer because it's brand new than you probably would want. You like the idea that training camp is a tough time. That's where a little bit of suffering is going on in order to succeed later on in life," Allen said to reporters.
The facility has two full-size natural grass fields and a natural grass drill field, with the sod (which normally takes 6-8 weeks to fully hold) put in to place last week. Allen said a key component was making the fields the same as they are at FedExField and Redskins Park, because the crown affects how key components of a offense work together.
As for who will be here and when?? The Redskins open up training camp in just over two months and while Robert Griffin III will be present, there is obviously no guarantee that he will be able to participate in practice.
Allen said that they won't know Griffin's ability to participate until he takes a physical saying it is "too early to tell" if he will on the field from the start, but that currently "he's been doing a lot of drill work on his own and with the other injured players. He has to just follow the doctor's and the trainer's advice on a daily basis."
"My wife will select that. Unfortunatly, I think it's going to be something nice," Allen said in a joking manner (I think). He also added that he didn't think he was going to be asked about the mini-drama, saying he thought "it was going to be about when's "RG 4" come out or something like that."
Well OK then, Bruce. That's all I can say about that.
Did they get better? That's the 'big' question (pardon the terrible pun). The Redskins made their first addition to a secondary that has never-ending questions by signing E.J. Biggers from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Biggers, a 7th round pick from Western Michigan, is entering his fifth professional season. Biggers turns 26 in June and had an interception, two forced fumbles and 41 solo tackles last season. He started 12 of the 13 games in which he played. He missed the Bucs first three games because of a foot injury under new head coach Greg Schiano.
Schiano replaced current Redskins defensive-backs coach, Raheem Morris. Morris, as a first-year head coach, drafted Biggers and then helped him develop over the next three years. The 'fit' is beyond obvious.
On the surface, you have to wonder why the Bucs would give up on Biggers when they have plenty of salary cap room and a need for cornerbacks as evidenced by their reportedly strong interest in New York Jets CB Darrelle Revis.
Furthermore, while an exception to every rule exists, Biggers was a 7th round pick for a reason. That doesn't mean he can't play - but enough teams agreed with a consensus that he was a long term developmental project.
Morris left a voicemail on my cell phone telling ESPN 980 on Wednesday night that Biggers is a "great kid" and that he actually discovered Biggers watching Detroit Lions safety Louis Delmas at Western Michigan. Morris says that Biggers was "everything I thought, he really came on and took a business-like approach."
Morris said Biggers has "elite speed - he can run, cover," but one of his areas of improvement would be "ball skills." However, Morris feels "he's gotten so much better, as a ball skill guy and learning how to track the football."
If you are looking for more good news - Biggers graded out very well in 2012 according to ProFootballFocus.com https://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2013/01/01/free-agent-cornerbacks/ at a plus 3.8, while playing 816 snaps.
Based on PFF's rankings, only 4 free agent cornerbacks (Antoine Winfield, Chris Houston, Terence Newman, Sheldon Brown) had higher rating than Biggers did amongst corners who played more than 800 snaps.
That would seem to back up more of what Raheem Morris told ESPN 980 on Wednesday night, about Biggers. "He has elite qualities. He's a fast guy, who could really stick you in coverage."
Biggers made his 2012 debut against the Redskins in Week 4, and was solid in pass coverage according to ProFootballFocus.com, at a plus 2.0 overall and a plus 1.7 in pass coverage. I don't remember anything impactful that Biggers did in that game, but I am more focused on what the Redskins are doing - as opposed to the opponent.
Overall, his run defense seems to need an improvement, as he graded out a minus 4.6, but his pass coverage was a plus 6.2 overall. He sacked Matt Ryan in Week 12, but also was credited with 13 missed tackles by ProFootballFocus.com.
Biggers is listed as playing both sides of the field, and another source that saw him play on a regular basis suggested to ESPN 980 that Biggers "stays with guys very well, but doesn't find the ball." The person views Biggers as more of a third cornerback, with spot start ability.
The Redskins now have Josh Wilson, Richard Crawford, Chase Minnifield, Jerome Murphy, Devin Holland, Korey Lindsey and Biggers under contract at the cornerback position. Biggers is listed at 6-0, 185.
Chris Russell // SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com // www.twitter.com/russellmania980
Day one of NFL Mardi Gras is upon us, as the league celebrated their version of a "Happy New Year" at 4 PM Eastern on Tuesday. I don't know about you, but I could just picture Roger Goodell and John Mara of the Giants with a big, fat stogie in hand, feet kicked up on desk (together or separate) saying "YUP, we screwed them good again."
The Redskins, as expected have done very little as I post this, and are not expected to be prime-time players. That's because as Bruce Allen referred to it as a "travesty of fairness," Washington began serving the 2nd year of an NFL-NFLPA imposed prison sentence, by taking away 18 million dollars in cap space once again.
As ESPN 980 first reported on Monday night, the Redskins were credited with 816, 000 under the 2013 cap because of unearned incentives, and sources told us that the adjusted salary cap was set at 110.09 million, while non penalized teams were just north of 123 million.
The Redskins saved a rough estimate of about 2 million dollars by a re-structure to the contract of Santana Moss. They could have saved 5 million dollars this year by letting him go, but that would have taken away Washington's leading touchdown scorer & a great locker room presence. The key, as Mark Maske of the Washington Post tweeted, is that the Redskins did not have to extend Moss' deal which expires after this upcoming season.
Washington essentially did the same type of re-structure to Adam Carriker's contract on Monday, saving a few million dollars by converting a portion of Carriker's base salary into incentives, which does not count against the 2013 cap. Carriker made it clear to ESPN 980 on Monday when we spoke by phone that he accepted the arrangement because he wanted to help the Redskins this year, in dealing with what he labeled as a unfair cap penalty.
I can speak to Carriker's situation, more than Moss (he has not returned repeated texts/phone calls) - but I believe both are the same. Neither player had base converted to guaranteed bonus in the transactions, so they were absolutely helping the Redskins in many ways.
This should not be surprising, as they are two pretty unselfish players. Not only that, but as Mike Shanahan said on Monday "If you get too creative, it comes back to haunt you. We try to do things the right way, not try to structure things out into the future where it come back to bite you three (or) four years from now. You do that, you don't do things the right way," Shanahan said.
"We are not going to mortgage the future, because of something that has been done to us today," Shanahan said on Monday at Redskins Park.
**One move the Redskins were able to make on Tuesday, was re-signing punter Sav Rocca. ESPN 980 was first to report that the two sides had agreed to a two year contract. Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun reported that the financials were 2.24 million with a 324 K signing bonus.
The 38-year old Rocca wanted to come back, but the two sides had made very little progress until Monday and continued the momentum into today. The move ensures that the Redskins will have all three specialists (Kai Forbath - PK, Nick Sundberg - LS, and Sav Rocca - P) in place to start 2013, under new coordinator, Keith Burns.
***A couple of developments on the free agent front look like this. It appears that Lorenzo Alexander is almost assuredly gone. Where he will wind up is still a question. He was reportedly in talks with the Arizona Cardinals, and had interest from the San Francisco 49'ers and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Alexander was very vague in his reply via text, telling ESPN 980 "haven't decided." One of his agent's tweeted that he has a new team. Another one of his agent's told ESPN 980 twice via text, "no decision yet." This much we know - barring a sudden last minute change of heart on one end or the other - Alexander no longer will be a Redskins captain, very likely by Wednesday.
The only possible scenario that would exist to change that is if the Redskins step up at the last minute with a much improved offer than they are currently offering. In other words, did Lorenzo's agent try one last desperate attempt by tweeting "New teams for clients ...@onemangang97" before he actually decided on a new team or does it simply mean - the decision has already been made to leave the Redskins and he now just has to make the choice between two new teams.
The Steelers interest makes all the sense in the world, because of Danny Smith and the 3-4 defensive scheme that is the father of the Redskins scheme. However, I don't believe they have enough money, as they are reportedly not even able to make a legitimate offer to their own top free agents like Mike Wallace (Miami) & CB Keenan Lewis.
The Arizona Cardinals appear to be the front runner, and rumors all day had the Cardinals hot in pursuit of Alexander and Josh Cribbs, who is also represented by Alexander's agent and who is one of the top return men in NFL history. The Cards might be saying, we have to win every week on specials and defense because our quarterback absolutely stinks.
The 49'ers are well...the 49'ers and that doesn't need much explanation. It is interesting to note that San Francisco visits Fed Ex Field this upcoming season, so Alexander would have a return trip to Washington.
**One final note for today, veteran DE Kedric Golston re-signed with the Redskins. The deal, confirmed by ESPN 980 is for three years, and we have learned that it is worth a maximum of 5.2 million if all incentives and scenarios are met. In all likely hood, it will end up being worth in the 3.5 - 4 million dollar range. Golston gets a signing bonus north of 300,000. It's a great deal for Golston, who is also extremely close to Alexander and maybe that changes something at the last minute.
Chris Russell // SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com // www.twitter.com/russellmania980
The Redskins are officially a part of the city of Richmond moving forward, as the team and city along with sponsor Bon Secours had a ceremony to break ground on their new training camp facility near the "Diamond" (baseball stadium) off the Boulevard in the West end area of the capital of the Commonwealth.
The "Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center" was already well under construction when we arrived on Thursday afternoon, and a team official that is highly involved in the construction process told ESPN 980 that the project is well-ahead of schedule and will absolutely be ready for late July.
Mayor Dwight Jones of the city of Richmond, said "we're all in...we're gonna be ready" when I asked if there were any contingency plans for delays in construction.
The real fireworks came after the ceremonial burgundy and gold shovels were discarded. Redskins General Manager and EVP Bruce Allen met with reporters for the first time since the night after the Redskins move to the # 2 overall pick last March became known.
Allen, was as loose and blunt as I've personally ever witnessed. Among the highlights.
Allen on the controversial nickname "Redskins" :
“There’s nothing that we feel is offensive and we’re proud of our history. It’s ludicrous to think that we’re trying to upset anyone....It doesn't make sense."
“We’re not a new franchise, we’re 81 years old," said Allen on Thursday to a group of reporters. “I’m proud to be the general manager of the Washington Redskins. We represent an iconic sports franchise.”
Allen also relayed a story that the President of the National Congress of American Indians, in conjunction with members of the Red Cloud Athletic Fund, requested in the early 70's that the Redskins change their logo from the "R" to the current logo.
Allen on the Redskins 18 million dollar cap penalty for 2013 :
"I think the penalty was wrong. It's unfair." Allen then seemed to be pretty confident in the Redskins abilities to get some relief, saying "the time is coming."
Allen on Robert Griffin III & do Redskins officials support Adam Schefter's report from earlier Thursday:
"He's progressing well. He's on schedule or ahead of schedule, and it's really because of the work ethic that you know he has. We’re going to let the doctors quote on where they are. I know Dr. James Andrews was hopeful after the surgery. We’ll see how it progresses. This will be an ongoing thing throughout the summer.”
Allen on FedEx Field's surface and if the Redskins have any plans to put field turf in 2013 :
"No. We missed an opportunity last year during a window between the 7th game and the 10th game to re-sod the field. Once the schedule comes out, our people are ready to commit to a schedule so we have some new sod for the end of the year. We think that is going to address the playing field in December, and hopefully, January."
Allen on Trent Williams who was injured in a incident before the Pro Bowl in Hawaii:
"He's fine. He gotsome stitches from the incident and they've been removed...I will say this, when we heard about it from league officials - they said not only did Trent not do anything wrong, he did everything right. He handled himself with a great professionalism."
Allen on Fred Davis:
"He's progressing well. That's a very serious injury. We expect he'll have a full recovery."
Allen on new Special Teams Coordinator Keith Burns:
"I am excited about Keith Burns. We had him for one year in Tampa. He oozes leadership. He's a committed young man, who I think is going to do great things in the future." Allen also said the WR coaching position is "still open."
Over 100 million Americans will celebrate what should be designated a national holiday later today. After all, it's finally here. Super Bowl Sunday. The Har-bowl. The Super Bro (NFL approved). Ray's last ride.
It has many names, especially this year. Whatever you want to call it, you will watch it. So will countless members of our United States Military, no matter the branch or location. Afghanistan, Germany, Iraq, Japan. It doesn't matter. They will be enjoying Americana, and the spectacle that 'Super Sunday' has become.
Many (if not all?) Redskins players will watch a game that they were just a few wins short of playing in. Certainly, it inspires you to shoot for the New York/New Jersey location of next year's 'Big Game.'
Redskins starting fullback Darrel Young and tight end Niles Paul will be watching as well. The only difference? They'll be combining a little piece of all that we just mentioned.
The two Redskins young veterans are going to watch Super Bowl XLVII in Japan, with the troops - as a way to give back and to thank the men and women of our military for the incredible sacrifice they have made.
For Paul, it is his first adventure. For Young, this is Year number 2. While he hopes next year, he's not able to make the trip (if he's playing in the Super Bowl), he's certainly committed to the cause.
For his own reasons, and for very real reasons. For his family. To honor his brother and sister in-law, the best way he knows how.
As we wrote about last year, http://bit.ly/zVazS8, Sergeant David Young, is an outstanding member of our military, specifically the United States Army. He's also Young's brother, and obviously his own blood.
"He is active. He is supposed to go back to Afghanistan in March, for his fifth tour. His wife is supposed to do the same thing, Young told me on ESPN 980 before he left on the NFL sanctioned Super Bowl Military tour.
Young enjoyed his trip last year, but it was far from an ideal vacation spot. He was a man on a mission to spread good will and boost spirits. "I did go to Honduras and El Salvador last year, just to visit troops. It's meaningful to me, just because my brother - serves on an everyday basis."
The reward for Young, is greater than any personal gift he could provide.
"Anything I can do to give back to them...I'm asked to run 100 yards, go out there and play in front of 90, 000 people, just make the game fun for people - To have beer, eat food, do all that stuff," Young said on ESPN 980.
Young is motivated by his brother, but also knows the cost of his sacrifice. "He's out there serving his country. Finding Bin Laden. Finding all the stuff that people are trying to get into the country that are illegal. That's just something that I appreciate. I appreciate it a little more just because I have someone so close to me. I see what he goes through, with his family, his wife. With me, with Mom and Dad - the way he changes everyday."
"He's a different person. Every time he comes back from Afghanistan - whether it be in a good way or a negative way. I've seen a lot of changes."
Young also applied the lessons he learned during last years tour to the Redskins locker room and the unlikely run from (3-6) to an NFC East Championship.
"I had no idea (about) camaraderie. I learned so much about camaraderie, and I tried to bring it back to the team this year. I think we're starting to gel a little bit more."
As for Paul - he seems to be having a great time unwinding and having some fun in a safe (hopefully) way, as this tweet/instagram video would indicate. Paul posted this fantastic glimpse at the fun and frolic, http://bit.ly/UO28t3 tagging his video with "This is me performing, "Hot In Here" by Nelly."
For more of Paul's excellent adventure, follow him on twitter @Niles_Paul84. Young is still not a member of twitter after what happened over a year ago against Minnesota.
Remember this, when the Redskins don't win a game or when you want to fire a coach - or whatever it is that fans want to do - just because they want to do it. People die almost everyday defending our freedom as a country. The ability to do some of the things we get to do, should never be taken for granted. The ability to speak freely, should never be lost in our minds.
Some of that is because of our constitution. Some of that is because of the men and women that keep that freedom free. I have to do a better job of that, and so do all of us.
This week, Niles Paul is learning more about it. Darrel Young already has it in his blood. He knows it, because he lives it and gets it.
"I'm just thankful for all the troops. My idea of giving back to them is doing something to show that I really care about and appreciate what they do."
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980
Danny Smith, a constant force and presence on the Redskins sidelines and at practices, is reportedly leaving for a better opportunity with the Pittsburgh Steelers, according to Dan Hellie of NBC-4.
Smith has not returned repeated calls or text messages to his cell phone, since news of the story first broke on Monday.
He was reportedly granted permission by the Redskins. Smith is from the Pittsburgh area, and still has family there. He's repeatedly been courted by other teams, including Pittsburgh and had a tough decision to make a couple of years ago when he was offered multiple opportunities.
This time, it appears the offer was too good to pass up. Under Smith, who has endured much criticism, the Redskins special teams were never great statistically, but he was always held in the highest regard by the players that he coached.
Reed Doughty, who has been a consistent special teams standout for the Redskins and under Smith's tutelage, told ESPN 980 via text "Danny is an awesome coach to play for. He expects a lot, but you want to play hard for him. I respect him immensely and appreciate the opportunity he gave me. He had to do what's best for him and his family. Pittsburgh got a great coach."
The Redskins referred all requests for confirmation to the Steelers, who did immediately return a request for confirmation.
The Redskins are dealing with a somewhat minor shake-up to the coaching staff of Mike Shanahan, as the coaches prepare to go on vacation for a few weeks.
The Buffalo Bills made it official, what Washington Times and ESPN 980 Redskins Insider Rich Campbell wrote about earlier todaywtim.es/V80Ojl, that Redskins wide receivers coach Ike Hilliard is leaving after just one year and joining Doug Marrone's staff in the same position.
Hilliard worked under Bills offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, in Tampa when Hilliard was still playing and Hackett was cutting his teeth in the coaching profession. It's not known what type of deal Hilliard left for, but it would seem odd that the Redskins would let him go for a similar position.
The Redskins benefited from a great group of blocking receivers that helped the NFL's # 1 run offense, and also featured four receivers -- Pierre Garcon (633), Leonard Hankerson (543), Josh Morgan (510) , Santana Moss (573) that each had over 500 yards receiving, and plenty of variety as Moss led in touchdowns (8), Morgan in catches (48) and Garcon in yards.
It's not known who will replace Hilliard on the Redskins coaching staff, but a couple of possibilities are current three-year offensive assistant, Richmond Flowers. Flowers has worked with the receivers group before, while also helping out the offense as a whole.
Current tight-ends coach Sean McVay could be switched over to the position group, as he worked as an assistant unit coach under Keenan McCardell in 2010, before replacing former tight-ends coach, Jon Embree. Speaking of which, Embree is currently out of a job, as he was fired after two seasons as the head coach at Colorado.
Efforts to contact the parties involved and potentially involved were not immediately successful, while all of the wide receivers that played under Hilliard for the 2012 season had not responded via text as of 4:15 PM.
The Redskins could also lose current defensive backs coach Raheem Morris, to the Cleveland Browns. He is interviewing for the Browns defensive coordinator position, under new head coach, Rob Chudzinski. The move was first reported by Rick Stroud in Tampa, who covered Morris for three years when he served as head coach of the Bucs.
The potential loss of Morris - would be a big one in my eyes. While the media was not afforded a lot of opportunity to get to know him really well, I can tell you from every dealing I had with Morris -- he is as genuine as they come. Just a fun, energetic guy to be around. I can tell many stories, but most encounters were behind the scenes and obviously not for publication. Trust me, he made a quality impression.
His absence would also be a big blow for the secondary, as he took over a year ago - and while the defensive backs struggled for the first ten games or so - it was clear they made a pretty dramatic improvement. Most notably, Jim Haslett saluted Morris for his management of the constant shuffle at the safety position for most of the season.
If the Redskins choose to stay in-house, they could promote assistant special teams and defensive backs coach, Richard Hightower to replace him. Hightower has been on staff since Mike Shanahan was hired, and is a part of the defensive and special teams game planning. Off the top of my head, I believe Hightower does the red zone part of the game plan for the upcoming opponent.
Mike Shanahan raised more than a few eyebrows last week at his season ending Monday press conference, for more than just his comments on Robert Griffin III
After the Redskins were dealt what most thought (and probably is) a crippling blow on the eve of free-agency last year, a 36 million dollar league imposed salary cap space penalty(spread over two years), most thought that Washington was doomed for the next several years.
I can’t say that thought, combined with no first round picks in 2013 and 2014 – didn’t cross my mind. However it wasn’t a serious thought in my convoluted brain, because I strongly believe the wrong way to build is through spending boatloads of money.I was and still am much more concerned about missing a few great potential pieces in the first round, especially considering Robert Griffin III’s current injury status.
The Redskins were punished 18.4 million dollars under the 2012 salary cap, and 17.6 million under the 2013 cap, per ESPN 980 sources. So what's the status of that punishment moving forward?
Mike Shanahan repeatedly said last off-season that he would talk about the situation and the Redskins appeal efforts when he was allowed too. Somehow, the question and a follow-up was allowed to expire during the season by the daily Redskins media corps, which I am obviously a member of and nobody from the outside, really made a big deal of it.
There was one exception, ESPN’s Adam Schefter mentionedin early November on ESPN 980 and the “Sports Fix” that the Redskins believed they had a shot at winning the 2013 war and getting some of the cap penalty room back.
During a few conversations I had with executives inside Redskins Park in November and early December, I was told the same thing. I was told by one person, that they felt like they had a really good chance.
It’s one thing to feel that, but what reason do you have for that optimism? That’s the answer that nobody knows. These conversations were informal and obviously not on the record, but I trust those that verified Schefter’s thoughts, and we know where that information is very likely coming from.
Armed with that information, the question had to be asked after all of the Griffin-gate issues were dealt with. In our last availability with Mike Shanahan until April – the head man needed to address this pertinent issue which would directly affect Washington’s free agent plans. Were the Redskins still contesting the penalties, handed down by the NFL and it’s executive council?
“Well, I can’t answer that at this time so that means we’re still involved in it. Yes, we’re still involved in it. When I can speak about it, I will speak. But at this time, I can’t. I think that answers your question," Shanahan told me.
So there you go. Now the question is – how will the NFL deal with this continued protest? Do the Redskins really have a shot, or are they just desperate and fighting just to fight. What’s the strategy the Redskins are using?
One person that is familiar with the matter, doesn’t feel as confident as others I’ve talked with. The person candidly said “They fought the good fight. It’s over.”
This person has not changed their stance since the initial arbitration case was rejected by Stephen Burbank in Philadelphia last May.
He says the only thing the Redskins can really do, is file a lawsuit against the National Football League, a strategy the person said was highly unlikely, “I can’t imagine they would do that.”
The way the Redskins and possibly the Cowboys would go about that, is to file a lawsuit in state or federal court, because the arbitration angle is dead.
The problems associated with a lawsuit of that magnitude is that according to the league’s constitution, the loser of the battle would pay all fees and could be counter-sued for “conduct detrimental to the league.”
The source described a decision to do this as a “thermo-nuclear” choice and strongly suggested that the Redskins avoid that route.
The same person also said that the only way he could think of to make this reversal take place, short of filing a lawsuit – would be to get an amendment to the league’s collective bargaining agreement. How likely is that and getting such a move past key executives like John Mara of the New York Giants? Extremely unlikely in another ESPN 980 sources thought process.
The main source did allow something that I thought was particularly interesting, by saying the NFL “amended the CBA to (bleep) these teams” before, which is why the league’s management committee was able to negotiate a cut throat deal with the NFLPA, in the person’s eyes.
What makes the issue even harder to fathom, is that the NFLPA collusion suit http://bit.ly/U0oyJk was dismissed recently, so the person who has knowledge of the situation, said the only strategy that he could see working is one of “persuasion.”
You might be thinking, Huh? The person said he was aware of the in-house thought by many people close to Commissioner Roger Goodell. He said that many league lieutenants knew how bad the screw-job was, and just how much the NFL had “(bleeped) over” both organizations, but specifically the Redskins.
One possible argument that the Redskins are still fighting was outlined by my friend J.I. Halsell, who is a former salary cap analyst with the Washington Redskins, and now is a player-agent and salary cap analyst with Priority Sports, based out of Chicago.In the interest of full-disclosure, Halsell also served as ESPN 980’s front-office insider for the last few years.
Halsell, long before this was even an issue, was truly a prophet. He wrote this column http://insidethecap.blogspot.com/2010_03_01_archive.html in which he detailed the Redskins creative re-structuring ofthe Albert Haynesworth and DeAngelo Hall contracts that they were subsequently penalized for.
We all know why the Redskins were penalized, but the most important element of Halsell’s article was that Bruce Allen essentially executed the same exact maneuver in Tampa with offensive lineman, Jeff Faine.
Halsell at the writing of the article, mentioned the dubbed “I-4 Off-Ramp,” as the ‘same device’ as used in the Haynesworth and Hall contracts. Just for clarification, to make sure nothing had changed in Halsell’s understanding of the situation, he confirmed to ESPN 980 on Tuesday that the restructured deals in both Washington and Tampa were “exactly the same.”
The greater point is this. We know that the NFL and the contract division of the league office approved the restructured contracts of both Haynesworth and Hall, as they did with Faine while Allen in charge in Tampa Bay.If they approved all three restructured deals, along with the Cowboys contracts – how is it that ONLY the Redskins and Cowboys were penalized?
Tampa performed such a move while under a salary cap, which has to be the answer from the league – however it was beyond clear that the Bucs were trying to take advantage of the extra room they had under their cap, while also clearing out a ton of space moving forward, in 2009 and in the uncapped year of 2010.
The strategy worked to a large degree, as they had a pirate ship full of money to spend in 2011 and 2012, after performing extremely well with a young, cheap and pared down roster in 2010.
Of course, it would be nice if the league took the time to explain all of this maneuvering, but maybe they don’t – because they always seem to have something to hide.
The person with knowledge said this in parting “It’s really disgusting what the league did to (the Redskins).”
While it may be disgusting, it seems awfully hard to fathom how the Redskins will get some much needed relief.
Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980