Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Training Camp Diary 31 July 2007


Dear diary,

Training camp goes on even every day. I can't believe its hear!!!!!

31 July 2007
This can't be good, not Chris Samuels. Not exactly like Jon Jansen blowing out an achilles in 2004, but it sucks expecially sionce we lost Derrick Dockery to the Bills. The offensive line was the only unquestionably good part of the 2006 Redskins, so with Derrick gone and Chris gimpy and Randy Thomas sitting out practice, I'm definately worried.

Carlos Rogers and Fred Smoot who are both after my heart are wearing soccer cleats (sorry world, futbol is what the Redskins play!) and may do so all season. Beyind whether these types of cleats are even allowed in the NFL I could not care less if they wore rocket shoes as long as they DEFEND SOME PASSES!!!!!!!!!!!

So Gilbert Arenas and Dan Snyder both drive Maybachs? Now that nosy Dan Steinberg has expose'ed this I guess Dan Snyder will now have a Bugatti by the end of the week and will try and trade three number one draft picks to the Wizards for Gil then not play him then trade him back to the Wiz for a 6th ruonder.

Last thought: this is not being a hardcore Redskins fan, this is being a hardcore freakazoid, the kind of thing I expect to see in Dallas or Oakland.

Ok diary c u l8r!!!!!!!!!!

Image from here.

Welcome LaRon

When this guy hits you, you'll know it

I didn't think LaRon Landry was the right guy for the sixth overall pick back in April and now what's done is done, so let's get it on.

LaRon is finally on board, having signed a five-year deal worth up to 41.5 million dollars with 17.5 million guaranteed. As you can see above, LaRon is quite large and as you can see here, the hits and the body go together. Although an unimproved defensive line means more plays in the defensive backfield, I think Sean Taylor and LaRon, if they can gel and form a team, will really make receivers and open-field ball carriers hear footsteps. Terrell Owens, I think you've already met Sean's right shoulder, now meet LaRon's left shoulder.

So the thing that worries me is freelancing and an abundance of opportunities to make the big hit and not stick with the play. Sean will think he has something to prove and LaRon is a kid. Hopefully veteran know-how and the mix of returning safeties will improve the position.

The Redskins defensive backfield looks good. Let's hope the line can hold up at least part of its end of the bargain. Welcome to the Redskins, LaRon. Now go hit someone.

Image from here. Hat tip to Hogs Haven for spotting it.

Training Camp Diary 30 July 2007

My only friend

Dear diary,

Ran out of mean things to say about the Redskins so I thought I would write to you about training camp. I'm going there next week, so I promise to put some pictures in your pages.

I'm very happy Redskins training camp is here but it's the kind of happy like when my junky friend comes back into town after alomst a year. The needle hurts and I vomit but you still forget how much you loved it.

27 July 2007 (PDF)
Todd Collins is so out and Casey Bramlet and Jordan Palmer are both so in. Jordan will land on the practrice squad and Casey will back up Mark Brunell which I think is a bad idea because the fans turned on Mark about four games into last season and the Redskins should get what value they can for him because Todd is not worth a Happy Meal. What the team should do it jettisun Mark and keep Casey and Jordan with Todd as the game-injury fill-in and so-called elder of the Al Saunder's 700-page syringe. Let's be real about it, 2007 is all about Jason Campbell and if he goes down then the season is over so let's see what Casey and Jordan can do because the future is coming nad Todd is no more than a coach in pads which is kind noble yet sad.

Shades, what do the Redskins need with another receiver? Don't they already have enough guys that don't catch the ball? Corey Bradford only appeared in 9 games and caught 14 passes for 164 yards last season. I think Brandon Lloyd's got that line covered!

28 July 2007 (PDF)
Carlos Rogers is dreamy but Fred Smoot makes me laugh. I can't make up my mind! But since Shawn Springs has more defective part and a worse warranty (hello India!) then my Dell I think they should both pretend they will be startign. I already called the Dandy and the Odyseey and told them not to let Fred on board (j/k! luv ya!) and I bought some really soft mango butter cream for Carlos's hands but I um, tried it out and now I have to keep it.

London Fletcher-Baker is a diamond hard piece of asswhooping clothesline with the rage virus. I can;t wait for him to meet Tony Romo and Eli Manning (lol). And I'm not surte Tony Gonzalez is the right analogy yet for Chris Cooley but the guy can catch and run. I hope the Redskins make a move and keep him longterm. Randy Thomas being out worries me, like when I order another drink right before dricving home. I know I'll probly be all right but I'm winging it.

29 July 2007 (PDF)
It makes no sense to me to talk about Kedric Golston vs. Joe Salave'a vs. Anthony Montgomery at defensive tackle. JOe was the starter in 2006 then was displaced in the stating lineup before midseason by Kedric and Anthony started all of one game. I guess you have to have a competition but if last season was any indication, old Joe got his ass kicked by Kedric and Anthony is a future journeyman. I think the Redskins are the same or better everywhere but defensive line. They did nothing this offseason and keep this to yoursefl diary, but I'd run all over the Redskins in 2007. Whoever is in the backfield, give him the ball and send him off tackle every play.

It's nice to see LaRon Landry signed and Omar Stoutmire and Pierson Prioleau back, now that the Redskins have like 1000 safeties. Maybe Omar can put on 150 lbs, grow six inches and play d-line and maybe Pierson will take care of his person. I heard sometimes at practice, to be sure the players are playing right that Joe Gibbs soaks the balls...in tears.

30 July 2007
Marcus Washington pees fairy dust and Roger Goodell has a $1000 a day habit of the stuff. I think the hip injury was bee-ess, and that Roger had Marcus in his basement with the gimp.

Here's the Redskins training camp roster. I note that not only is Jimmy Farris not on this list, there is a guy named Burl on it.

I love the Redskins but this dude is totally fair weather. A real fan would put Heath Shuler up there with, right along with Michael Westbrook and Tom Carter.

Al Saunders' playbook has gone from 700 pages to an unknown number (maybe a secret?) and the offesne has gone from so complex the players couldn't understand it last year to so easy even a blogger gets it. This concerns me.

I can't believe Chris Samuels is 30. Our little boy, all grown up. But motherflubber if this doesn't suck. And all it took to get Joe Theismann to come back and hang out at Redskins Park was getting fired.

If Mike Sellers can show up lighter than last season with blond hair on his face then Brandon Lloyd can show up heavier than last season with a pointed head.

Ok diary, check ya 2morrow. I got to go keep it real with the missus.

Image from here, and feel free to click through and read this creepy thing.

RIP Bill Walsh

Bill Walsh, 1931 - 2007

William Earnest 'Bill' Walsh, father of the West Coast offense and one of the most successful and influential coaches in the history of football died yesterday in his California home after a three-year battle with leukemia.

After a collegiate career at San Jose State that included football and boxing, Bill was an assistant football coach under Marv Levy at the University of California, then Stanford University before moving to the NFL in 1966 as an assistant with the Oakland Raiders, where he learned the fundamentals of the vertical passing game. Over the next ten years, Bill would work under Paul Brown in Cincinnati and Tommy Prothro in San Diego before becoming the head coach at Stanford University in 1977.

It was at Stanford that Bill first developed the spread offense later known as the West Coast offense, a system based on precise route-running, timing passes and quick looks by the quarterback.

In 1979, after two seasons at Stanford, Bill took the head coaching job San Francisco, where the woeful 49ers were coming off a 2-14 season. In 1980, Bill elevated former Notre Dame quarterback Joe Montana to the starting job. The 49ers finished 6-10 in 1980 and 13-3 in 1981 on their way to victory in Super Bowl 16. The 49ers dynasty was born.

In ten season as the 49ers head coach, Bill amassed a record of 102-63-1, including 10-4 in the playoffs and three for three Super Bowl wins. His assistant coaches have gone forth and prospered and nearly every coach in this lineage chart is still working and still practicing some variation of Bill's original offense.

In that offense, strict adherence to dogma is required. Games often begin with the first 10 to 15 plays scripted, receiver routes mature in sequence and the passer must check down the order to find the receiver he believes will be open, then throws to the spot where the receiver will be. Running is secondary in the West Coast offense, set up by the pass (as opposed to the Joe Gibbs style in which the pass is set up by the run) and the running back often stays back to block before running a swing pattern as the safety valve receiver. The West Coast offense and its variants require quarterbacks and receivers to be in sync and to anticipate each others needs, and the Joe Montana-Jerry Rice and Steve Young-Jerry Rice tandems are among the most productive in NFL history.

Bill Walsh was inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame in 1993. The basic principles of Bill's offensive scheme are now considered a standard part of football.

Bill Walsh was 75.

Wikipedia page.

Joe Montana and Bill Walsh in 1984 from here.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Surface Tension

Looking down to look up

In addition to the usual happy talk about working hard, staying positive and focusing on the team, just four days into the Redskins 2007 training camp and I can feel the sense that 2007 might not just be about doing better than 2006, but about vindicating a team after a 5-11 2006 season that came on the heels of a 10-6 with five wins in a row to closeout the season one playoff win and one close loss from the NFC Championship 2005 season; a 2006 season in which everything not named Ladell Betts or 'offensive line' was exposed as inadequate or underperforming.

Can these guys change? Because in order to do better than 2006, this team will have to. With few major changes to the roster, it will be the same guys coming back and trying to do better. Whether it's the coaching, the conditioning, the playcalling, whatever, the final outcome has to be a better team, which will of necessity be a change from 2006.

As quick as I was to dismiss talk such as Mark Brunell's declaration of Super Bowl or Bust last season, I am also leery of 'don't worry, we'll do better' this season. Some examples:

Al Saunders
After coming in during the 2006 offseason and hearing Joe Gibbs declare that every decision is Al's to make, the 700-page playbook became a punchline instead of a symbol of success. Now 18 months after Al joined the team we can talk openly about how the players were not ready for the playbook, how Al & Clinton Portis never got close and how despite proclamations, Joe was holding Al back either implicitly or explicitly. Now, Al is sure things will get better, well, because, well, it's a year later. Never mind that the Redskins gravitate toward Joe Gibbs' power running game and away from Al's Buttery Spreadable Coryell style. You can't change the Redskins, they change you and I don't know if Al's ready for that.

Brandon Lloyd
After signing the standard six year 30 million dollar free agent contract before the 2006 season, Brandon was a disaster. No production, a big mouth and a bigger attitude and enters 2007 as the third receiver on the depth chart. Now he's bigger and is committed to catching, running and blocking. A tip that nothing's really different from last season: even after two helmet-throwing episodes on the sidelines, a demotion on the depth chart and going inactive at the end, even after a face to face with Joe Gibbs in the offseason, he still has 'no idea' how things could have gone so wrong for him in 2006. Hint: it's him. I look for Brandon to have another year of not really being open.

Clinton Portis
After dislocating his shoulder in the first preseason game chasing after a Mark Brunell interception, then blasting his coach for having the audacity to play him in a preseason game*, Clinton spent 2006 off and on, mostly off. Coming into 2007, Clinton says he's settled his differences with Al Saunders, has recovered from his injuries and is ready to be the point through which the whole offense goes. But the same piece still has him bitching about camp and preseason games and how they are not for elite players and his reaction to saying something really stupid about dogfighting was not to feel bad about saying it but to feel bad the public reaction was bad and claim his comments were not relevant to the topic. Mr. Media Whore can dish it out but can't take it and so he takes his ball and goes home. Anyone want to make a bet that if the Redskins are 4-0 and chugging along that he breaks his self-imposed media silence with all-new characters?

Curly R aside: Lifetime Eagles fan, season ticket holder and Curly R reader/lurker Wilbert Montgomery thinks running backs are fungible. Not that a good one is not good to have, but rather that it is easier to acquire a solid feature back than it is to acquire solid starters at some of the other positions. Cornerback is one of those, which is why Wilbert Montgomery thinks the Broncos got the better of the Redskins when they shipped Clinton here for Champ Bailey and then turned out three straight, different 1000-yard runners in Reuben Droughns, Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell.

Joe Gibbs
Finally, the coach. In 2004 the Redskins were a disappointing 6-10 while they got into gear. Joe was wary of his team and played 'max protect' all year, keeping extra receivers and the H-back to block, not realizing that Patrick Ramsey didn't have the tools to take advantage of this philosophy. 2005 was what Redskins Nation wanted and even Joe admits he got cocky before the 2006 season, which was his worst season ever as an NFL head coach. He says he feels the pressure to win, but I wonder if he's feeling the pressure from the outside now. The thing that made Joe Gibbs great the first time around was his drive to win. You came along or got left behind, the pressure came from the inside. Now, he's ceded so much of the team to assistants, I wonder if his desire to win is any longer matched by his willingness or ability to make it happen. It's not the will alone that makes a winner, but the will, a lot of yelling and a vision. At least one, maybe two of these things appear gone.

Let's see if this team takes responsibility for itself or if it finds scapegoats.

* Clinton should have been mad at Mark Brunell for throwing that INT, or at himself for going so hard after the turnover tackle in a preseason game.

Joe Gibbs from here.

I Don't Know What You Did Last Summer

Surprise ending?

In the old days when football players reported, camp was actually a time to get in game shape. The players had offseason jobs, didn't make stupid-money and didn't spend all offseason working out. In my head I have visions of Sonny Jurgensen arriving at Carlisle tubby with a cigar in his mouth, ready for a tough-ass month and a soak in the jacuzzi. Feel the burn baby.

But now none of them work real second jobs and being in the NFL is a year-round job. Players are bitching all the time about how tough camp is and how silly preseason games are (or at least the coaches that play starters). Teams should trust them to stay in shape, blah blah.

And although Joe Gibbs was never Bear Bryant, it was a little disappointing that he agreed to let his players maintain their conditioning away from Redskins Park, which I wrote about here and here.

And confusing, because he said it was his fault there was not enough intensity in 2006 training camp and that 2007 was going to be like way harder.

I would think in this situation you want to control the exact conditioning of a player that you plan to send into a particularly strenuous endeavor, the penalty for being out of precise shape potentially being lingering or catastrophic injury. It's not really acceptable to me for a player to come to a tougher camp but because he did not get in the right shape gets hurt and the team and the player shrug shoulders and say, who knew.

If you are going to ask someone to do something you are not certain they can prepare for properly, you have to help them. That's not to say that the players can't keep themselves in shape, because they can. But they are keeping in them shape and the team should be sure they are staying in game shape.

Well when Sean Taylor (Miami, duh) and Shawn Springs (Arizona) took advantage of the policy and trained elsewhere then were early no-shows to mini-camp in May, coach was shocked shocked! I say. Sean had zero contact, none with the Redskins before showing up late to mini-camp in May and Shawn phoned in* that he'd be two weeks late because he was working to rehab himself. He finally showed up in June.

Today we learned from both the Washington Post and Washington Times that Brandon Lloyd had a hard 2006 and that he worked out, on his own mind you, in Arizona no less, six days a week and that he's eight pounds heavier. When you are done being impressed, wonder for a moment how best to distribute those eight pounds in a manner that would best help Brandon improve his route-running, avoid defenders and keep his helmet on and mouth shut. The 30 million dollar third receiver!

Clinton Portis and Santana Moss were either rehabbing injuries, dinged themselves in the offseason or both. Am I a cynic if I think a player nags up an injury, maybe to avoid working out a little? Wouldn't be the first time in the NFL. I seem to remember after torpedoeing Marty Schottenheimer that Steve Spurrier got the word and Bruce Smith basically got to sit out camp in 2002 and 2003 with a 'groin.'

I'll be interested how camp goes in light of Joe Gibbs' seemingly contradictory positions of less oversight on player offseason activities and increased physical and mental demands of training camp.

*Note: this is also the piece in which Clinton Portis is quoted in regard to Michael Vick as saying the following:

I don't know if he was fighting dogs or not, but it's his property, it's his dog. If that's what he wants to do, do it." He added that people should "mind their business,"...

Movie poster from here. Sean Taylor mugshot from here. Shawn Springs from here. Brandon Lloyd from Redskins homepage here. Clinton Portis from here. Don't you just love mashups?

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Deion Is an Idiot. A Big One.

Keepin it classy yo

An open letter to Deion Sanders:


I should preface this letter by saying that I think the Redskins made a horrible mistake by signing you in 2000 and that you revealed everything a football fan needed to know about your character when you abruptly retired rather than face Marty Schottenheimer for the 2001 season. If I were Dan Snyder I would have sued for the entire unearned portion of your 8 million dollar signing bonus rather than let you skate with 7.5 million plus your 2000 salary. So I'm not exactly objective here.

That said, you have waded into exactly the wrong story with exactly the wrong argument, and you should stop digging because you are in a deep hole. Your column in the 22 July 2007 Southwest Florida News-Press defends Michael Vick and purports to wonder why we are all making such a big fuss.

Shame on you sir.

Allow me to elaborate with the convenience of your own words. FYI, your words appear in blockquote throughout:

I would’ve never thought Mike Vick, one of the NFL’s most exciting players — the man who makes the network execs smile every time he plays — would ever be indicted for crimes against man’s best friend.

The potential impact could be devastating.

Impact to what? Society's collective sense of decency? Decades of effort by animal rights advocates? The not-so-clean as a whistle image of the NFL? No, in your mind this case could be devastating to Michael's earnings, to Michael's marketability and/or to Michael's reputation.

Deion, no matter what Lindsay Lohan Hollyworld you live in, no one is worried about the impacts on poor Michael and how he's doing. He engaged deliberately in activities that are at once illegal and despicable and he will forever be known this way now. The level of adulation you seem to think Falcons fans or NFL fans have for yourself and other players simply is not there.

What a dog means to Vick might be a lot different than what he means to you or I.

At the risk of turning this into a comedy sketch, I think this is obvious at this point. When we are discussing what a dog 'means,' it is assumed that a dog is valued for his life and for his very existence. Whether your dog is a barnyard hound or a precious little yapper in a purse-carrier, we can agree that the social contract between dogs and humans dictates their lives to humans are not simply to preserve or snuff out on a whim, which is what happens in dogfighting. That's why we have laws against this stuff.

And some people enjoy proving they have the biggest, toughest dog on the street. You’re probably not going to believe this, but I bet Vick loves the dogs that were the biggest and the baddest.

In the same way that slave owners in ancient Rome loved their gladiator-slaves. Life was good for those slaves, as long as they kept killing and were not killed. Another way to say this would be that if your sense of Michael's love is in fact accurate then for him to love and keep alive a dog that dog must put to death other dogs, whose owners presumably loved until they lost and then did not love so much. Again, the social contract dictates that proving you have the biggest and baddest dog cannot include using that dog wantonly to kill other creatures, which is why pit bulls are illegal in Denver and other cities.

...I must ask the question: Where is all of this going?

To trial. In federal court. In November. Don't pretend this is some bullshit witchunt or some existentialist quandary for the ages. Michael and his non-famous co-conspirators are accused of committing very serious crimes. That is the actionable reality and the only thing that matters about this case.

These next blockquotes condense paragraphs 15 to 19 in order to make a point, and I will even spare you the exercise of evaluating the wisdom of quoting a character from New Jack City, the 1991 paean to the 80s inner city crack wars in order to make a point about how Michael is not the problem here:

Why are we indicting him? Was he the ringleader? ...They apparently found carcasses on the property, but I must ask you again, is he the ringleader? ...Are we using Vick to get to the ringleader? Are we using him to bring an end to dogfighting in the United States?

The only thing I can gather from this situation is that we’re using Vick.

Was he wrong? Absolutely. Was he stupid? Can’t argue with that. Was he immature? No doubt. But is he the ringleader? I just can’t see it.

Repeating the 'ringleader?' meme is seeking portray Michael as some cog in the wheel, some schlub that got in over his head. Fact is that is irrelevant, you do not have to be a bloodsport breeding, boarding and banging kingpin for it to be wrong, or a crime. And YES, 'we' are using Michael and 'we' would use him to bring an end to this despicable practice in this country and on this planet if we could. 'We' are using him to make an example of how poorly society thinks of dogfighting and 'we' are using him to find the ringleader, if that is not Michael. You are certain that is not Michael, but I am not so sure.

I believe Vick had a passion for dogfighting. I know many athletes who share his passion. The allure is the intensity and the challenge of a dog fighting to the death. It’s like ultimate fighting, but the dog doesn’t tap out when he knows he can’t win.

It reminds me of when I wore a lot of jewelry back in the day because I always wanted to have the biggest chain or the biggest, baddest car. It gives you status.

Two big flags on this one, Deion. First, the athletes you know that have a passion for dogfighting have a sick obsession with cruelty to animals and illegal activities, so I will paraphrase my mother to make this point: if the millionaire athlete in the next locker spent thousands reveling in a sadist obsession with power and death, would you? Second, '...when I wore a lot of jewelry back in the day...'? Um, I know you cannot write 800 words without mentioning yourself twice, but likening your puerile need to be blingy to a dogfighting racket is evidence of either a sense of self so comically elevated that you will use any situation to remind your reader of the author, or so out of touch that you really think you and and Mr. T are like, badass dudes that symbolize power, demand respect and inspire a cultlike following.

Can I pause for a moment to ask you a question?

Who shot Darrant Williams? Remember the Denver Bronco cornerback? I’m just more concerned about bringing to justice someone who killed a human. Or finding out who broke into Miami Heat forward Antoine Walker’s home, tied him up and robbed him at gunpoint.

First Deion, his name was Darrent, not Darrant. When using someone's misfortune, be they dead or alive, to illustrate a point, it is best and respectful to get that person's name right.

This is a classic attempt at the 'scale/scope' sleight of hand. Falling to your knees you scream, tiny fists of rage shaking at the sky, how can we care about the latest celebrity scandal when CHILDREN ARE STARVING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! In the first place, Darrent was shot and killed in Denver, not Surry Virginia and so it is reasonable to assume that the search for Darrent's killer will not take resources directly away from the investigation of the sick bloodsport conducted at Michael's house, the house he owns in Virginia. Same goes for Antoine's plight. You insult your audience when you assume that they are incapable of parsing the murder of a human, the assault and battery of another and the twisted and inhumane behavior of others.

Then again by your logic, there would have been no need to arrest you for trespassing on airport property BECAUSE SOMEONE DIED IN INDIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We’re attacking this dogfighting ring the same way a teenager attacks his MySpace page after school (by the way parents, make sure you monitor your kids). We should have the same passion for man that we have for man’s best friend.

As a parent, I appreciate the influence celebrities have in the lives of young people, so thanks for taking time out from apologizing for a sick bastard to remind my kids to be safe online.

Seriously Deion, this paragraph makes no sense. We are attacking this dogfighting ring the same way a teenager attacks his MySpace page? I don't have teenage kids and there were no internets when I was a teenager, but I can pretty safely say that teens these days do not attack MySpace, Facebook, YouTube or any of the other new century social networks with the intent of eradicating them completely. Yes, I got your point, that 'we' are obsessing on this dogfighting issue the same way the kids these days spend time in their little worlds, and that we are ascribing more importance to the dogfighting than there is in real life, just like a teenager thinks what happens on his MySpace page really 'matters.' I get it. That's just a really really bad analogy. Hall of Fame bad.

The reason this is turning into a three-ring circus is that baseball is boring, basketball is months away, football is around the corner and we in the media don’t have a thing interesting to write about.

No, the reason we are making such a big deal about this is because dogfighting is a bunch of sick fucks sending dogs into a ring to kill or be killed. Dogs that are abused until they comply and fight, or are killed if they do not. And those that do, well they have a shelf life, not unlike a professional athlete. Except you are still here to write stupid shit about how it's really no big deal what Michael did, and not dead as a result of the sport someone else made you play until you died. Oh, and you used to play baseball at the professional level. It's interesting to hear you call it boring.

I'll go a step further here. If Michael was not involved in this case, you would not have written anything about it at all, unless it caught your eye for its heinousness at which point you would have written a piece condemning the non-famous perpetrators given your absolute allegiance to your working dogs. Which of course would be hypocrisy.

And finally, something you and I can agree upon:

How will this end up? I have no idea. All I know is Falcons fans better pray because Vick’s backup is Joey Harrington. Enough said.

Amen to that. How hilar is it that the Falcons, your first NFL team, finalized the trade of future star Matt Schaub to the Texans less than a month before we started hearing about Michael's little side project? This could not have happened to a better guy or a smarter team. Arthur Blank is choking on his Ensure as we speak.

Deion, you are ignorant, willfully or otherwise, of the magnitude of these charges. You should retract your comments and bow out of this debate.

Benjamin F. Folsom III
The Curly R


It is worth noting that Deion's colum did not go over well. All five letters to the editor published on 25 July in response to Deion's column condemned it. ESPN then picked it up, and the News-Press reprinted Deion's column...twice, here and here. Disclaimer: I don't know John Kincaid, who picked up the story and was substituting on ESPN Radio for Colin Cowherd, but Colin can go to hell.

In the middle of reveling in the coverage value of being at the center of a paper-selling and traffic-generating story, the News-Press remembered it had a responsibility and made sure to condemn dogfighting, sort of, in an editiorial. Nice balls you don't have there News-Press.

Finally, and this is almost comical, Deion RESPONDED TO THE CRITICS in the paper. At this point, the News-Press is Kramer and Newman on Phil Donahue's set, setting up the squirrel and the falcon, rubbing their hands and counting their money as Deion squirms and the readers go apeshit. Go and read it for yourself, but if I can paraphrase, Deion was misunderstood (what he wrote would have come off better if you had seen him say it on TV), he loves dogs (some of his best friends are dogs) and he is praying for Michael (if you had God appearing in the case on 28 July, email me, you win the pool).

This is not a bullshit case, this is real and I hope Michael Vick's profile serves to throw some sunlight on a 'sport' that has long dwelled in the shadows at the fringes of acceptability, apparently, if you ask Deion Sanders and Clinton Portis.

Update 2 August 2007: the NFL (Network) bites Deion in the ass.

Deion Sanders mugshot from here. In June 1996, Deion was charged with having an oversize sense of celebrity entitlement for ignoring No Trespassing signs and fishing anyway on property owned by Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers, Florida.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Without Compassion and Soon Without Freedom

NOT doing this is what makes us human

After months of this story, sitting waiting, Michael Vick was finally indicted on federal racketeering, illegal gambling and animal cruelty charges in connection with the dogfighting kennel and league run out of a property he owns in Surry, Virginia.

The feds think he is 'highly' involved, participating at all levels, from acquiring and breeding dogs, through 'training' them to fight, through placing bets, paying off losing bets, collecting on winning bets and maintaining the facilities. (op. cit.)

Do you know one way these dogs are 'trained' to fight? They are fed gunpower to upset their stomachs and metabolism and to make them ornery. Dogs that do not play along and fight are starved, beaten, fed poisons and ultimately killed.

Dogfighting is a bloodsport and fights are often to the death. Animals that lose are often killed in the fight, and if not, they are executed by their owners. Michael himself is alleged to have killed or 'consulted' on killing dogs that were not shaping up as fighters in the following ways (op. cit.):

Hanging. As in string a dog up by the neck and hang her until she dies choking.

Drowning. As in bind a dog and hold her under until she suffocates, water in her lungs.

Beating. Physically throw a dog against the ground or a wall until she dies, broken.

Electrocution. Tie her down and apply electrical current to her exposed flesh or sensitive areas until she is fried from the inside.

And this is a guy with a 100 million dollar contract in one of the most exclusive clubs in the world, making millions on the side just from smiling into a camera. We are potentially talking a real-life Hannibal Lecter here, coolly going about a celebrated life while a twisted upbringing has forced him or allowed him to find no moral conflict in the taking of captive life for pure sport.


This comes at an awkward time for the Atlanta Falcons as well. They traded quarterback Matt Schaub (Wahoowa!) to the Houston Texans in March, days before the first rumors of Michael's alleged extracurriculars came to light. Michael may be the most exciting thing around, but even before this he was damaged goods, a headcase with little chance of winning a Super Bowl for Atlanta and zero chance of living up to his draft hype of changing the quarterback position.

Such a saddle is Michael's contract that, even though Matt is a consensus starting-caliber NFL quarterback, the Falcons could not realistically demote or release Michael, given the cap hit that wold ensue and the degree to which Michael is the marketing face of the team (and the league). If Jim Mora Junior had his way, he'd still be there, Matt would be the starter going into 2007 and all this dogfighting shit would be another team's problem, Michael cut or traded for a ham samwich.

So first-year coach Bobby Petrino is in a tough spot. He prefers a power running game. The Falcons are all scatbacks. He likes to run multiple looks, with shifts and four- and five-wide sets, and he puts a lot in the hands of his quarterbacks, giving them leeway on audibles and allowing them to call some of their own plays. Michael has a strong arm but is not known for his accuracy, thrives on improvisation, and has shown in his time in the NFL a persistent inability to read defenses and adjust to game situations. Michael is a sandlot guy, a you be the bottle cap you be the piece of glass everyone else go long kind of player. Michael even thinks Bobby will let him call some of his own plays. Don't choke so hard on your coffee, I don't think you have to worry about that. (hat tip to the Falcon Reporter for most of this analysis.)

Actually, maybe not having Michael around will be good for Bobby and the Falcons. Joey Harrington is a first round pick in search of redemption and Chris Redman played for Bobby at Louisville.


Innocent? Yes, Michael has not been proven guilty of anything at this time. A lot of circumstantial evidence is already in the public domain though. It was his house, so legally he has some accountability for illegal activities there. He is a registered dog breeder (op. cit.), giving him access to the market for contestants. ESPN found an unnamed source that says as recently as 2000, Michael was a 'heavyweight' in the world of dogfights, betting up to 40 thousand dollars a match. (link 1 / link 2 / link 3)

NFL conduct policy is not on Michael's side. This is the first year of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's new get-tough policy on ne'er-do-wells. Chris Henry, Tank Williams and Pacman Jones dint do nothing this bad and they got the book.

Public opinion is not on Michael's side. Despite Clinton Portis' ill-thought words (he recanted), no one is stepping up now to say this is no big deal. Old-as-dirt West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd railed in the Capitol about how 'barbaric' anyone that would set dogs on each other for enjoyment must be. And maybe most significantly, when it was time for Michael to appear in Richmond and be arraigned, the feds did not grant him the courtesy extended to mob figures and other high-profile perpetrators and bring him in the back, or in a van straight into the building, or set up a cordon, nope, they dropped him in the lot a half block away and let the haters RAIN boos and jeers on him for five whole minutes as he walked into the building.

I have a pretty good idea of what happens next for Michael. The Falcons were about to suspend him under team rules for the maximum four games before Roger Goodell asked them to hold off until he could figure it out, which he is doing with the help of a former US Justice Department attorney. He then ordered Michael to stay away from Falcons camp (which opened today).

Michael will be suspended by the league for the entire 2007 season, forfeiting his entire 2007 salary. Bobby Petrino will convince Arthur Blank that this is the time and if Arthur wants a winner with his new 24 million dollar coach, the Falcons must release the hundred million dollar quarterback and the team will take the cap hit, be 3-13 this season and start over next season with no Michael Vick jerseys in the stands. Michael will plead down, pay a big fine, do 24 or 36 months in jail, try and come back in the 2010 or 2011 season, never catch on and become a footnote of football history, maybe even rounding out the fall back to earth with a nice drug bust with his Newport News posse.


This is such a serious social issue the the venerable Encyclopedia Britannica has a site devoted to advocacy of this issue. If these charges are true, these guys are truly truly despicable.

Dogfighting victim from here.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Bonus Material: Making Redskins Greatest Games Volume One

Behind the scenes at The Curly R

This is a companion piece to Redskins Greatest Games Volume One.

I had wanted to do a series on my favorite Redskins games since the day I flipped the switch on Curly R and I first began to think about it in earnest last December as the Redskins were winding down a dreadful 2006 season. The question was, how to do it?

It had to be games I knew intimately, which narrows it down to, oh, about 200. More with the wonders of the NFL Record and Fact Book and the Washington Post Archives.

Curly R aside number one: I am still really pissed that I had to pay for those eight pieces from the Post. I have been a steady seven-days-a-week subscriber to the Post for 11 years and it annoys me that they want to touch me up for another 20-spot for a handful of pieces from years ago. The New York Times, in contrast, has a perfect system. All subscribers have access to up to 100 archive pieces a month. A year ago the wife got me a subscription to the Sunday New York Times, which qualifies us for TimesSelect archive privileges. Above the included 100 pieces per month, you have to pay, but when I search the Times' site, archive search is automatically included in the search. Not so with the Post. I have to go to a separate search page or do it through Google News Archive, which is still a little green. Note to Washington Post: your archives are moldering. Free them within reason for subscribers by adopting the Times' model, and alter the site-wide search to include archives by default.

If we further winnow down the games I know to those with a hook, we are still talking dozens, but it's more manageable. Because those Oilers were a dominant team with tragic flaws, because of the Jack Pardee connection, because I watched it curled up on a couch drinking and eating tuna subs with a big hangover and because this game was exactly the type of enchanted win typical of 1991 when everything, and I mean everything, broke the Redskins way, this game was always going to be the first one profiled.

Stylistically, I thought a single-part piece, eight to twelve grafs with three images (helmets, Joe Gibbs, Jack Pardee) would be enough to wrap up the game and the story behind the game (that technically makes this the story behind the story behind the game). This way I could do four to six in each offseason as a regular feature.

As I started to sketch this post out in January, doing my homework on how Jack got from the Redskins to the Oilers, I just became overwhelmed with Jack's story. Bear Bryant, George Allen, Super Bowl 7, the struggle between the Edward Bennet Williams camp wanting to keep the George Allen years alive and newly activist owner Jack Kent Cooke wanting to go in Bobby Beathard's direction, it was as serious a football story as I had ever seen.

Curly R aside number two: although I do not mention it in the piece, it is entirely likely that a divorce is what set the Redskins down that path away from their George Allen heritage (by firing Jack Pardee) and toward the team they would become in the 80s and into the 90s. In 1979, Jack Kent Cooke laid out a 49 million dollar divorce settlement to his first wife Barbara Jean Carnegie, then the largest divorce settlement in history. JKC had become majority owner of the Redskins five years earlier in 1974, but after getting touched up for 49 mil, he decided to stop being a silent owner and pay closer attention to his Redskins enterprise, moving EBW out and his regime, including Bobby Beathard, in. Chronology.

In short order, a new plan for RGG emerged. This would be a once a year look at a critical game and a chance to go in depth on the people and circumstances around the game. A profile emerges, and the game is the backdrop.

This first game is a great story all by itself, and I think it is an even better story when viewed in the broader historical context. All serious football fans are at once hopeless romantics and amateur historians, and the linking of the Redskins 70s renewal anchored by Jack Pardee to their decade-plus of success in the 80s and 90s anchored by Joe Gibbs is a critical factor in understanding the history of this team.


Yes, I have the next game picked out. Redskins Greatest Games Volume 2 should be ready to go by July 2008...

Backstage sign from here.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Redskins Greatest Games Volume One: November 3, 1991 - Part 7

Every game has a story. This is the story of Sunday November 3 1991, RFK Stadium, Redskins 16, Oilers 13 (OT).

Curly R concludes the inaugural edition of Redskins Greatest Games with Part 7, The Aftermath.

Part 1: Who is Jack Pardee?
Part 2: What Jack Did
Part 3: The Oilers
Part 4: Jack Returns to the NFL
Part 5: The Game
Part 6: The Moment
Part 7: The Aftermath
Bonus Material


The game between the two offensive powerhouses had turned out to be a defensive affair, decided by a Redskins fumble in the worst possible situation, a botched Oilers field goal and a heads-up play by the greatest cornerback to play the game...


The Redskins were now the eighth team since 1970 to reach 9-0[8] on their way to 14-2, two playoff blowouts and an easy Super Bowl 26 win over the Bills in a game that featured Thurman Thomas' missing helmet and Jim Kelly leading the Bills in rushing.

The Oilers were now 7-2 and still hot, but Jack got no sleep. The next day, Jack cut kicker Ian Howfield, who appeared in tears leaving the Oilers facility. Somebody would pay for losing that game.

After the 7-1 start and the loss to the Redskins, the Oilers ended the season 4-3 to finish 1991 11-5, winning the AFC Central Division, good for third seed in the playoffs. After beating Ken O'Brien's New York Jets, the Oilers lost a heartbreaker in Denver 26-24. With 2 minutes 7 seconds left in the fourth and trailing 24-23, John Elway took the Broncos 98 yards in 1 minute 49 seconds for the winning field goal on what is known to Broncos fans simply as The Drive II.

In 1992, the Oilers were still a hot team but the league was cooling to the run & shoot. Warren Moon was intercepted five times in the first game but then went on to win four straight. Warren was hurt in the tenth game of the season against the Vikings, and Cody Carlson took them the rest of the way to finish 1992 10-6, second in the AFC Central and good for the fifth playoff seed.

The Oilers had pummeled the Buffalo Bills 27-3 in the regular season finale, knocking the Bills off a playoff bye and setting up a Bill-Oilers 4-5 seed rematch at Rich Stadium on January 3 1993. By 1:41 into the third quarter, the Oilers had cruised to a 35-3 lead. The Oilers went on to lose, 41-38 in overtime in a game that is known simply as The Comeback. The next day the Oilers fired defensive coordinator Jim Eddy and defensive backs coach Pat Thomas, coaches who, along with Gregg Williams, had been (TimesSelect) with Jack and held those positions going back eleven years, through the USFL Houston Gamblers and University of Houston Cougars.

Jim Eddy would be a tough coach to replace. He had been with Jack for eleven years and after four straight years[10] of defensive decline under former defensive coordinator-turned-head coach Jerry Glanville, the Oilers defense had become a perennial top ten squad.[11]

The answer? On January 30 1993, Jack hired former Eagles head coach and father of the 46 defense Buddy Ryan as defensive coordinator, a role he played on the Bears' 1985 Super Bowl team.

Buddy, a Korean War veteran, had been fired in January 1991 after five seasons as the Eagles head coach, and openly aspired to be a head coach again, a fact that did not put off Jack Pardee. Houston owner Bud Adams was getting impatient and the Oilers needed to win, now.

When the 1993 season came around, things started rough. Warren Moon was benched after the third game en route to a 1-4 start. In the sixth game, against New England, elevated backup Cody Carlson got hurt and Warren came back and won the game. The Oilers then went on to finish the season with an 11-0 run to finish 12-4. Buddy's defense was brutal. Bob Hulsey:

Ryan's defense specialized in mismatches and pressuring the quarterback. In 1993, the Oilers would lead the NFL in run defense (73 yards per game), lead the AFC in fewest points allowed (238), lead the conference in interceptions (26), set a team record for quarterback sacks and scored six defensive touchdowns.
Things were boiling behind the scenes though. In the 1993 season finale on January 2 1994, differences between offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, running the offense all four years of Jack's tenure, and Buddy Ryan came to blows, literally. Buddy had been deriding Kevin's run & shoot offense as the 'chuck & duck,' and the Oilers offensive squad was complaining about too-hard hits in practice and open disrespect by the defense.

Right before the half and pitching a shutout, Kevin called a passing play instead of running to keep the clock running. Quarterback Cody Carlson was sacked and fumbled. Buddy could not stand it any more, walked right over and punched Kevin in the head. It was caught live on the ESPN game broadcast and played hundreds of times in the following weeks. Said Kevin the next day:
It's a daily, ongoing thing. The comments, the sarcasm, the denigrating and disparaging remarks toward the offense. We try to just survive it. That's what we're going to do. My best way of handling it is to try to stay far away from the guy and try not to respond to his incessant remarks and just stay focused on who I thought the opponent was -- the teams we play week to week.
The Oilers had earned a bye after winning 12 games and the AFC Central, but the cloud from the punch hung over the team and Joe Montana and the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Oilers in the Divisional round in Houston. Jack seemed to be losing control of the team.

Buddy Ryan was offered (TimesSelect) a position as head coach and general manager of the Phoenix Cardinals in February and Buddy joined Norval Turner of the Redskins as NFC Beast rookie head coaches for the 1994 season. Jack kept Kevin as his offensive coordinator and hired San Francisco 49ers defensive backs coach Jeff Fisher as defensive coordinator. Jeff played all four of his NFL seasons as a cornerback for Mike Ditka's Bears and defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan. A year after retiring, Jeff took a position as Buddy Ryan's defensive backs coach, and was later elevated to defensive coordinator at the age of 30 (op. cit.). Three seasons later, Jack Pardee needed someone who could keep Buddy Ryan's mentality without being a complete asshole.

Warren Moon was traded to the Vikings and gone. Cody Carlson was left with the 1994 bag and separated his shoulder in the season opener. Plucky Bucky Richardson and couldn't get it done and after ten games and a 1-9 record, the Oilers fired Jack and Kevin and elevated Jeff Fisher to interim head coach. The Oilers finished 1994 2-14.

Jeff retained Gregg Williams, promoting him to defensive coordinator. After a Super Bowl appearance with the Titans and three difficult years as head coach of the Buffalo Bills, Gregg would join Joe Gibbs in his return to the sidelines, becoming the assistant head coach/defense for the Washington Redskins, the position he still holds. Jeff, well he's still head coach of that Oilers franchise two moves and a name change thirteen years later.


Jack didn't stay out of football very long. The CFL, mad for the Yanks in 1995 and with their odd ways of football, had five franchises south of the border. Jack signed on to be the one and only head coach of the Birmingham Barracudas. They finished 10-8 and made the playoffs, losing to the San Antonio Texans. They folded after the 1995 season and Jack retired from coaching.


Jack Pardee is the only man ever to have been a head coach in the WFL, NFL, USFL, NCAA and the CFL. Alongside 15 years as a player and a Super Bowl appearance, Jack amassed four coach of the year awards, made the playoffs nine times, went to a bowl game and produced a Heisman winner, all over a 21-year coaching career.

Jack Pardee lives in the Houston area where he still makes occasional public appearances.

Ian Howfield: Houston Pro Football from here, and there's a nice story at that link about how Ian is not, er, at peace with his NFL legacy. Go read it. Buddy Ryan from Philadelphia Eagles website here. Kevin Gilbride from New York Giants website here. Jack Pardee's Birmingham Barracudas business card from here. Thanks to Skin Patrol at Hogs Haven for reminding me that current Redskins defensive coordinator Gregg Williams got his real start in coaching under Jack Pardee. Even after the purge that sent Jim Eddy and Pat Thomas packing, Gregg survived and went on to coach the Titans defense in the Super Bowl.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Redskins Greatest Games Volume One: November 3, 1991 - Part 6

Every game has a story. This is the story of Sunday November 3 1991, RFK Stadium, Redskins 16, Oilers 13 (OT).

Curly R continues the inaugural edition of Redskins Greatest Games with Part 6, The Moment.

Part 1: Who is Jack Pardee?
Part 2: What Jack Did
Part 3: The Oilers
Part 4: Jack Returns to the NFL
Part 5: The Game
Part 6: The Moment
Part 7: The Aftermath
Bonus Material


Joe Gibbs. Jack Pardee. The Redskins' past versus its present. In a game dubbed 'Super Bowl 35-1/2,' both teams had tried all day to give the game away. Now, it was going into overtime tied at thirteen...


The Redskins won the overtime toss, took the ball and promptly three-and-outed, all runs to Earnest Byner before punting to the Houston 31 yard line.[7] It was Warren Moon's turn.

The first Oilers play of this posession was a two-yard run by Lorenzo White.[7]

Now the moment that sealed it, the moment that made me jump off that ratty couch, that place I had lain all morning in recovery from the celebration of my 22nd birthday the night before, pumping my fists and shouting YES! YES! YES!

Warren Moon had been exploiting the slant route against the Redskins defense all day. The Redskins for their part were content to let Warren have the short passes and play contain.[5] Houston native Darrell Green was playing off, respecting Haywood Jeffires' speed with a buffer at the line.

The second Oilers play of this possesion, Warren went to the well one time too many times. It was a pass and Haywood broke in on a slant pattern. Redskins defensive end Jumpy Geathers was pressuring Warren. Darrell saw the play, cut in, rubbed shoulders with Haywood and grabbed for the pass. There was a struggle and Darrell came up with the ball at 4:01 of overtime.[7] Jack complained [1] and replay officials called for a review.[5]

Under the original instant replay rules in effect at that time as now, the no-call of a penalty cannot be overturned on review[5], and both players have equal claim to the ball. Possession Redskins[9] on the Oilers 32.

Earnest Byner got three straight carries for nine total yards. Joe Gibbs called for Chip Lohmiller, who booted the 41 yard winner straight through.[7] Game over, Redskins win 16-13 in overtime.

In the end, the Redskins managed to roll up 349 total yards of offense,[7] including 154 yards rushing and gave up no sacks against the best defense in the AFC[6]. Earnest Byner ran for 112 yards. Rookie Ricky Ervins picked up 43 yards. Mark Rypien completed 21 of 34 passes for 195 yards. The Oilers had held each of their previous four opponents under 100 yards rushing. The Redskins defense held the Oilers to 267 total yards of offense, 120 yards fewer than their 1991 season average.[7] Box score.

But the Redskins also gave up four turnovers, including Brian Mitchell's critical fumble on a kickoff with less than two minutes left in the game.[7] There had been some luck in there along with solid line play and good coaching.


Curly R's Redskins Greatest Games concludes tomorrow with part 7, The Aftermath.

Earnest Byner from here. Darrell Green from here. Chip Lohmiller from here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Redskins Greatest Games Volume One: November 3, 1991 - Part 5

Every game has a story. This is the story of Sunday November 3 1991, RFK Stadium, Redskins 16, Oilers 13 (OT).

Curly R continues the inaugural edition of Redskins Greatest Games with Part 5, The Game.

Part 1: Who is Jack Pardee?
Part 2: What Jack Did
Part 3: The Oilers
Part 4: Jack Returns to the NFL
Part 5: The Game
Part 6: The Moment
Part 7: The Aftermath
Bonus Material


Warren Moon. Darrell Green. It actually happened...


When gameday arrived on Sunday November 3 1991, Jack Pardee set foot in RFK Stadium for the first time since his last home game on December 13 1980. He had never been back and was not sure he ever wanted to go back. But now he was focused on one thing: winning this game. Would it exorcise the demons and purge the bitterness of betrayal? Probably not, but it sure would make Monday feel better. The Oilers winning a Super Bowl was the main target, and if winning in Washington was a part of that plan, that was ok with Jack.

Vice President Dan Quayle and comedian Bill Cosby were Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke's guests in the owner's box[1]. Even the President himself had skin in the game. The day before the game, President George HW Bush opened a partisan divide in Washington, publicly calling on Houston to win[2]:

I want the Oilers to win it and I want them to go on and do so well that Barbara and I receive them in the White House as Super Bowl champs,...
Two weeks later, when the Washington Post revealed George Bush was gambling on football[3], a toothless Congress, then in the hands of Democrats, took no action. Years later, George's son would perfect the art of fixing outcomes.

"I think the Redskins' main objective will be to control Warren Moon, and the Oilers' goal will be to stop the run, forcing Mary Rypien to pass,"[4] said ESPN analyst Joe Theismann with his trademark razor sharp insight about this game, billed as 'Super Bowl 35-1/2.'[4]


There was no scoring in the first quarter as both teams played conservatively, the Redskins sticking to the ground and the Oilers working short passes. In the second quarter, the Redskins made it 3-0 after a 17-play 82 yard drive capped by a Chip Lohmiller 21 yard field goal.[7]

On the next drive, the Oilers did exactly the same thing, driving 81 yards on 17 plays before stalling on the Redskins six. With 2:00 left in the first half, Oilers kicker Ian Howfield tied the game at 3-3 with a 24 yard field goal.[7]

Working the no-huddle, Mark Rypien was hit at release on the next drive and Lamar Lathon intercepted the wobbly pass. Warren Moon took the Oilers 48 yards in 58 seconds to the Redskins six, where Ian Howfield kicked a 23 yard field goal and gave Houston a 6-3 lead at the half.[7] Both teams looked tentative and the Redskins appeared to be losing momentum.

To make matters worse, right tackle Joe Jacoby had sprained his left knee with 1:50 left in the half and it did not look like he could go. Out came 11 year veteran Russ Grimm, reduced to a backup role, and who incidentally had not been happy about his demotion back in camp.[6]

By early in the second half, the Redskins had lost both offensive tackles, facing the AFC's top defense. On the first Redskins drive, left tackle big Jim Lachey tweaked his right knee. Russ moved over to left tackle and Plan B pickup Mark Adickes came in at right tackle.[6]

The Redskins then promptly drove 80 yards on 16 plays to the Oilers one yard line, but Gerald Riggs got stuffed. Chip Lohmiller kicked a 20 yard field goal to tie the game at 6-6 with 20 seconds left in the quarter.[7]

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Lorenzo White muffed the handoff and Redskins defensive end Fred Stokes recovered. The next play, Earnest Byner went through a hole opened by reserve tackle Mark Adickes 23 yards for the touchdown, Redskins up 13-6.[7]

Next drive, Redskins safety Brad Edwards intercepted Warren Moon and the Redskins went down to the Oilers 12 before Jeff Bostic and Mark Rypien botched the center-quarterback exchange and the Oilers recovered the ball. Warren then led Houston on a 79 yard drive, ending in Lorenzo's one-yard plunge with 1:42 left in regulation.[7] The game was tied 13-13.

Brian Mitchell, one of the greatest return men in NFL history, then fumbled away the ensuing kickoff at the 23 yard line and now the Oilers had the ball with 1:33 left in the fourth quarter, deep in Redskins territory, tie game.[7]

Three plays got Houston to the Redskins 16. With :04 left on the clock, in came Oilers kicker Ian Howfield,[1] a player that had been tending bar in Oklahoma before the 1991 season, to make a 33-yard field goal to win the game, move to 8-1 and give Jack Pardee his first good night's sleep in 11 years.

He missed it, wide left.[7] The game was going into overtime.


Curly R's Redskins Greatest Games continues tomorrow with part 6, The Moment.

Dan Quayle from here. Bill Cosby from here. George HW Bush from here. Joe Theismann from here. Joe Jacoby from here. Russ Grimm: Getty Images via Pro Football Hall of Fame from here. Jim Lachey from here.

Redskins Greatest Games Volume One: November 3, 1991 - Part 4

Every game has a story. This is the story of Sunday November 3 1991, RFK Stadium, Redskins 16, Oilers 13 (OT).

Curly R continues the inaugural edition of Redskins Greatest Games with Part 4, Jack Returns to the NFL.

Part 1: Who is Jack Pardee?
Part 2: What Jack Did
Part 3: The Oilers
Part 4: Jack Returns to the NFL
Part 5: The Game
Part 6: The Moment
Part 7: The Aftermath
Bonus Material


Jack's back, and he has a whole new bag...


When Jack Pardee was introduced as the 15th head coach of the Oilers on January 9, 1990, Jack saw in front of him the ultimate opportunity to validate his run & shoot offense at the pro level. The Oilers were stocked at quarterback, receiver and offensive line. There were no fullbacks or tight ends to be seen. Jack had completed his 180 degree turn away from the run-first styles of the Chicago Bears and Washington Redskins and had become a disciple of the widest-open football offense ever created.

The Oilers went 9-7 and made the playoffs in 1990. Houston was the top passing offense, the number two scoring offense and, as predicted by the scheme, were terrible on the ground. Only the Ron Meyer Colts, Lindy Infante Packers and Bud Carson Browns were worse running teams. Warren Moon led the league in passing attempts, completions, yards and touchdowns. Two receivers were over 1000 yards. Defensively, the Oilers were in the middle of the pack, though stronger against the run. Confidence for 1991 was high.

Going into the 1991 season, the Oilers were hot and the Run & Shoot was hotter. Jerry Glanville, the former Oilers defensive coordinator and head coach, took it with him to Atlanta. Wayne Fontes put it in place for Jack Pardee's University of Houston Cougars Heisman Trophy winner Andre Ware in Detroit. Jack had the best quarterback in the league and the Oilers were poised for a run at the Super Bowl. He looked at his schedule and circled week 10, a visit to RFK to play the Redskins, his old team two different ways. George Allen had seen fit to trade for him in 1971, and Redskins president Edward Bennett Williams brought him back as coach six years later to carry on the George Allen tradition.

But things didn't work out in Washington the second time around. The Redskins had missed the playoffs in dramatic fashion in 1979, John Riggins held out in 1980, robbing Jack of his power back, and newly activist owner Jack Kent Cooke came down with general manager Bobby Beathard on the team's direction. The Redskins fired Jack after the 1980 season, leaving him feeling betrayed and embittered over his Washington experience.

Since that day in January 1980, Jack had gone on to coach three football teams, pioneer a new offensive scheme, earn another Coach of the Year award to go with the three he already had, go to the playoffs three times, go to two bowl games, produce a Heisman Trophy winner and be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Jack needed no validation, and yet there they were on the schedule, the Washington Redskins.

Since taking the team from Jack Pardee, Joe Gibbs had gone on to build a solid franchise, winning four division titles, making the playoffs five times, appearing in three Super Bowls and winning two, all in a span of ten seasons. 1991 was also a season of high expectations for the Redskins.

In the first nine weeks of the 1991 season, Jack's Oilers compiled a 7-1 record, scoring an average of 29 points and allowing opponents an average of 13. Warren Moon was on fire and the offense was averaging a staggering 387 yards per game. Houston was simply overwhelming opposing teans, while playing stellar defense themselves.

Meanwhile, the Redskins had opened the season 8-0, averaging 31 points per game, allowing opponents an average of 12 points, including three shutouts in those first eight games. The Washington offense was averaging 335 yards a game on offense, including 148 yards on the ground. It looked like the Redskins were coming together for another Super Bowl run.

This was going to be an epic clash, the irresistable force coming to RFK to face the immovable object.


Curly R's Redskins Greatest Games continues today with part 5, The Game.

Run & Shoot base set from here. Warren Moon from here. Joe Gibbs, Washington Post from here.