Monday, March 30, 2009

You Think We Got It Bad?

We don't got it bad

As I paw through pictures, my total collection is over 27 thousand photos, 99 percent of which were taken in the past seven years, that is what having kids will do for you, I finally looked through the photos I took on my road trip to see the Redskins play the Bengals in game fourteen back on 14 December 2008. The football was awful but, bourbon was spectacular.

For those that do not know, Bengals blog WhoDey Revolution became known last season for pranking the team, founder Andrew Simon taking anger over the mismanagement by Bengals' owner and general manager Mike Brown more or less to it ultimate end, renting a billboard in front of the team's facility, encouraging fans to report Mike Brown to the Bengals game day Jerk Line and urging fans to boycott Bengals merchandise and even cancel their season tickets.

By far the best gag though was Project Mayhem number six, a little caper called

Put Your Yellow on Our Brown

Personalized urinal cakes, the Whodey guys had volunteers mule them in to the stadium on game day, remove the existing urinal cakes and install new ones that proudly tout the Bengals' record since Mike Brown gained control of the team, that would be 98-196-1. I had a chance to be a part of this operation, I had reached out to Andrew before the game and he invited me to come over and participate, alas we did not arrive in time.

The photo above is by me of a cake my friend Kentucky Lee pulled from the bathroom, washed and brought to me. I kept it, intending to take it home as a souvenir, after the game my hosts were in their cups, the pungent smell of the pisser puck was not compatible with their Kentucky grade intoxication and they made me leave it outside the car on our post game bourbon stop. Sadly I forgot about it and it was left in the lot of some dive in the Kentucky section of Cincinnati.

I look forward to bringing you the photos and stories from this game in a game journal this offseason.

Mike Brown personalized urinal cake photo by me. Do not worry, it was washed.

Friday, March 27, 2009

If I Am Some Numbnuts On a Blog...

Then Randy Cross is some dumbass with a microphone

Yesterday morning I caught the first segment of The Opening Drive on Sirius NFL Radio, the drive time show with Bob Papa and former 49ers offensive lineman Randy Cross. I love the show so if you are reading this Randy and Bob, why the hell do you guys so often hate on football blogs?

Is it because Sirius NFL Radio is a league owned property and you are prohibited from commenting negatively on star players like Terrell Owens? I call this the lapdog defense.

Is it because you perceive because blogs, message boards and other internet based properties that do not compete for scarce radio or TV time as direct competitors to your media and as such cannot be legitimized for competition purposes? I call this the elitism defense.

Or is it even simpler, that like so many in the traditional media outlets of radio, TV and newspapers, you literally have no idea that said unregulated, unconstrained and multiplying like Tribbles football blogs, message boards and internet properties are slowly putting your head underwater and rendering you less useful every day? I call this the lack of self awareness defense.

The thing that ticked me off yesterday was the opening segment, the banter started between Randy and Bob about how Terrell Owens was a no show for the Bills' voluntary workouts. Randy Cross then segued awkwardly into a story that broke three days ago and has had very little play.

The story as reported on gossip blog is that Terrell Owens, on Saturday 21 March 2009 exited MYNT nightclub in Miami Beach, obviously intoxicated, got on whatever fad pseudo motorcycle new money young men are riding these days, was pulled over immediately and not only was not arrested but wound up giving the officers involved autographs.


Calling it innuendo and lacking facts Randy railed that Bill coach Dick Jauron and the Buffalo media were now going to have to address this non event because some numbnuts on a blog put something out there.

Bob petulantly told us that Wednesday Terrell was awarded the Young Champions Award of the National Alzheimer's Association, Terrell's grandmother is afflicted with Alzheimer's and it has been his philanthropy for years. Bob then angrily mentioned that numbnuts with the blog did not bother to mention this award while trashing Terrell with hearsay about a near miss DUI.

I say again Bob Papa berated a gossip blog for not mentioning Terrell Owens' philanthropy efforts while reporting that Terrell came stumbling out of a bar near 4am and immediately drew police attention.

I ask you to have another look at the story. I am not a professional journalist but I know a little about how decisions about running a story work.

Is it plausible? In other words, is it believeable that Terrell Owens came staggering out of a nightclub in Miami Beach, where he makes his offseason home, drunk as shit, got onto a motor vehicle conveyance and had a brush with the law. I would submit yes that is plausible.

Is there corroboration? No names are named but if you look at the piece, three sources are cited with relevance to the story, a club employee that said Terrell had his own bottle of vodka, a hotel employee that said Terrell arrived at the hotel late night and was visibly impaired and the female that witnessed the sobriety test who says the Miami Beach police forced her to delete all images of the test from her camera or phone.

So it is back to first amendment versus libel laws. The impugned demand regularly to have defamatory material removed from the internets. Lawsuits are always available to rich people like Terrell Owens. If they take it down and apologize it does not mean it is not true, it may mean simply that is not willing to fight that fight.

If however it is a fabrication, even a second hand made up story passed along, then all originators deserve the scorn and legal action they will earn. But my guess is this is a true story and Terrell will just wait it out, after all there was no arrest and apparently no longer any pictures.

The lesson here is not journalism 101. The lesson is not that numbnuts bloggers are above the law or beyond ethics. There are two lessons here.

The first lesson is ignore a story you do not like if it really has no bearing on your existence. Or else you risk keeping it alive another day. By attacking the story, the blog and the medium, Bob and Randy look as though they have some reason to defend Terrell and a league owned property would want to tread lightly as to whether listeners believe the hosts are in the tank for league stars, regardless of their character.

The second lesson is attack the story and not the medium. Football blogs and other internet properties are busy working for free or little to help shovel cash into the pockets of the league and all its sycophants. Why? Because we love the sport. While all those beat reporters Randy loves so much are slowly being turned out on the street as their newspapers go away, sports blogs continue to skyrocket in popularity, by one measure each of the nearly 200 SBNation sports blogs has more than twelve thousand unique vistors a month, and this little site is averaging nearly eight thousand visits a month and has experienced little dropoff in the offseason.

I do not yet possess the power to take over all known media.


Randy Cross 1976 rookie playing card from here.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Carpet Bagger

Hoping for more than a cup of coffee at this stop

The third big 2009 free agency score by the Redskins, to go with defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth and left guard Derrick Dockery, is cornerback DeAngelo Hall who signed a six year 55 million dollar contract, DeAngelo is at least a moderately interesting case because he was already a Redskin. Sort of.

DeAngelo attended Virginia Tech, a fact which I do not hold against DeAngelo, and was a three year starter and an outstanding player. He played cornerback, returned kicks and even played some receiver. His junior year in 2003 against Syracuse DeAngelo returned two punts for a total of 118 yards and two touchdowns in a 51-7 rout by the Hokies on his way to All-America honors and a nomination for the Jim Thorpe award given to the nation's best college defensive back.

DeAngelo was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons with the eighth pick of the 2004 NFL draft, he suffered a hip fracture in the preseason and missed six games to start his rookie year. DeAngelo helped get the Falcons to the NFC Championship that year, a game I happened to attend in Philadelphia with lifetime Eagles fan, season ticket holder and Curly R reader/lurker Wilbert Montgomery. It was the coldest day of my life.

It really started to jell for DeAngelo his second year in 2005, although the Falcons missed the playoffs DeAngelo finished with 65 tackles, ten passes defensed and six interceptions and was named to his first Pro Bowl. Befitting he jersey number 21, former Falcon and current idiot Deion Sanders' number, DeAngelo was an outstanding performer in prime time, finishing with 15 tackles, two interceptions and a forced fumble in three Monday Night Football games, including calmly handling the Eagles' Terrell Owens in the season opener. There were hints that year that DeAngelo played his own game, in that Eagles game DeAngelo grabbed an opponent's facemask, tore off his helmet and threw it down, drawing a post game 5000 dollar fine. Later that season DeAngelo lost his Reebok endorsement deal when he took the field in Nike cleats.

Rolling right into 2006, DeAngelo maintained form and made his second straight Pro Bowl. He started all 16 games and finished with 58 tackles, 16 passes defensed and four interceptions and continued to associate himself with the top receivers in the league. In 2005 it was a well publicized and possibly contrived feud with Terrell Owens, in 2006 it was with Cincinnati's Chad Johnson. Later in the season DeAngelo drew the ire of the Detroit Lions when he slammed quarterback Jon Kitna in the head as Jon QB-slid to the turf, the incident caused Lions center Dominic Raiola to issue a vague threat to DeAngelo, who responded in typical brash fashion by giving out his home address and inviting Dominic to come and get some. And whatever rivalry DeAngelo and Terrell Owens enjoyed came to an ugly end when DeAngelo provoked Terrell Owens into spitting on him in the fifteenth game of that season, an action that earned Terrell a 35 thousand dollar fine.

Going into the 2007 season Falcons coach Jim Mora was fired and replaced by former University of Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino, Bobby and DeAngelo never seemed to get along and the backdrop of Michael Vick's dogfighting case did not help team relations. DeAngelo in his fourth year had become known as a vocal, brash guy, a trash talker and as everyone knows brass balls only go as far as performance on the field.

In week three with the Falcons reeling at 0-2 without Michael Vick, DeAngelo had been handling Carolina Panthers receiver Steve Smith, the Falcons' Alge Crumpler scored early in the third quarter to put Atlanta up 17-10. On the next play from scrimmage, Steve Smith got behind DeAngelo who had no choice but to pull Steve down for a 37 yard pass interference penalty. On the next play Steve was getting into DeAngelo's head as DeAngelo chest bumped Steve, drawing a fifteen yard unsportsmanlike contact penalty. Despite all the free yards two plays Jake Delhomme was getting sacked and it looked as though the Panthers were near the edge of field goal range. Lucky for Carolina, Steve Smith was still inside DeAngelo's head, he was called for a fifteen yard taunting penalty, two plays later and the Panthers tied the game. Three 15+ yard penalties on the same drive. The Falcons went on to lose 27-20, falling to 0-3.

But the story gets better. As the Panthers were kicking the extra point and the Falcons were getting ready to take the field on offense, DeAngelo got into it with head coach Bobby Petrino and had to be restrained by teammates on the sideline in what was described as a quote tirade unquote. Three days later the team fined DeAngelo 100 thousand dollars, the same week it was learned that Michael Vick had tested positive for marijuana while awaiting sentencing for his federal dogfighting conviction, DeAngelo was ultimately suspended for the first quarter of the Falcons next game, against the Texans.

In an interview that week with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a story that was published the day of the Texans game, DeAngelo was asked if he would be able to play for Bobby Petrino over the long term. From ESPN (op. cit.):

Hall was asked twice if he thought he could play for Petrino long term. He paused before responding: "Some things would have to change, obviously. Like you said, some guys are made for college. Some guys are made for the NFL. If he wants respect given to him, he must give respect back."

Respect for your rookie coach much DeAngelo?

By the next month rumors had surfaced that DeAngelo could be had from Atlanta in trade. DeAngelo complained to the media that Bobby Petrino was not as close to the Falcons players as former head coach Jim Mora. The next week DeAngelo attacked Falcons leadership for releasing eleven year veteran defensive tackle Grady Jackson, a move the team denied was part of a purge as the team cratered through the 2007 season. By the end of October DeAngelo had taken a vow of media silence (op. cit.), one that even his teammates snickered at, suspecting DeAngelo was far too full of himself to maintain.

Two months later in December 2007 after Michael Vick was sentenced to 27 months for running a dogfighting ring, DeAngelo ran onto the field in a game against the Saints carrying a poster that read Free Mike Vick, and wore eyeblack stickons emblazoned with MV7, a move that earned DeAngelo a ten thousand dollar fine. The next day rookie head coach Bobby Petrino resigned to go back to the college ranks, a move that did not assuage DeAngelo on his future with the team, he announced he was done with the Falcons, promising to demand a trade or hold out in 2008. Here is a YouTube of DeAngelo's interview with ESPN the day after his coach resigned, DeAngelo spared nothing in trashing Bobby Petrino.

As Atlanta put him on the trading block in February of 2008, DeAngelo said with everything that had happened with the Falcons in 2007 that he felt the team had stabbed him in the back, a curious bit of projection by the man that brought it all on himself. By the next month Atlanta and Oakland were in negotiations to trade DeAngelo to the Raiders, a week later the deal was done, DeAngelo was traded to Oakland for a second round pick in the 2008 draft then immediately signed a seven year 70 million dollar deal including 24 million dollars guaranteed.

But DeAngelo never jelled in Oakland's press-man coverage, preferring a la Fred Smoot to give up a cushion and make a play on the ball, after firing head coach Lane Kiffin Raiders owner Al Davis cut DeAngelo only eight games into the 2008 season. There was even a story that when the Falcons came to visit the Raiders in week nine that DeAngelo went into the tunnel at halftime to try and pick a fight with his former teammates.

After three days on the street the Redskins signed DeAngelo for a prorated one million dollar deal for the rest of the season. DeAngelo proceeded to pull down two interceptions, including one in his first game with Washington, against Dallas no less, after three games DeAngelo had cracked the starting lineup at the expense of Carlos Rogers.

Signing DeAngelo to a long term deal here in Washington accomplishes two goals: making DeAngelo even richer and giving him another bridge to burn. It also accomplishes goals for the team: giving them a Pro Bowl caliber cornerback, one that can go for the ball and hang on to it. Next season we get to see DeAngelo lined up opposite former first round pick Carlos Rogers, himself in a contract year and bitter the team has not awarded him a new deal.

The Redskins cornerback unit should remain strong in 2009 unless the shit hits the fan.

DeAngelo Hall: Getty Images from here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Original IR Offenders

Yeah that rule is because of us

One of the biggest milestones in any sport is when the governing body alters or creates a rule specifically to neutralize specific team actions or abilities of a specific player. The NBA widening what used to be called the key into what is now called the paint because George Mikan was so dominant. The NFL Roy Williams horse collar rule. Hack-a-Shaq.

And so it was amusing to me Thursday night while doing research for the Curly R piece on the UFL that I dug up some Redskins history, a story that amused me sixteen years ago and may amuse those that have forgotten or are too young to remember:

The Redskins are responsible for the NFL changing the rules on injured reserve.

Ok maybe not but they sure were a big part of the reason. You see prior to 1993 the injured reserve designation was intended to permit teams to keep an injured player without being forced to release him or otherwise give up a roster spot. If a player went on IR prior to final cuts at the end of training camp, that player would remain with the team but be ineligible to play for the entire season, very much the way the league rule works today.

However if a player were designated for injured reserve during the regular season, that player would be ineligible to play for four weeks. That player would go onto the IR list and his roster spot could be used for another player. The idea was when the injured player came back, a player would have to be released to create a roster spot. A player's stay on IR could be extended, four games at a time, throughout the season.

By the time the league was investigating the Redskins and other teams in 1992 as an extension of the Freeman McNeil court case against Plan B free agency, abuse of injured reserve had become so rampant that it had a nickname: the taxi squad.

Curly R aside: it was a result of that court case that the first round of free agents were awarded five days to sign with the team of their choice. Those four players were Eagles tight end Keith Jackson, Browns receiver Webster Slaughter, Lions tailback DJ Dozier and Patriots defensive end Garin Veris. Of the four, only Keith and Webster signed up and played another down in the NFL.

The taxi squad worked this way: teams would keep their projected taxi squad members through final cuts, leaving the bottom of the roster out on the street. Then immediately after final cuts the team would put its taxi squad members on IR with a listed injury and attempt to sign back the bottom rung players that had been cut.

For the Redskins it was almost always quarterbacks. In the original Joe Gibbs years the Redskins never had a history or tradition of top flight quarterbacks, instead choosing to draft guys in middle rounds and spend craploads of time developing them. Mark Rypien, a 1986 sixth round draft pick, spent the 1986 season on injured reserve with a quote knee unquote and 1987 on IR with a quote back unquote. Cary Conklin, a 1990 fourth round pick, spent 1990 and the Super Bowl 1991 season on IR with a quote knee unquote both years. A dollar for anyone that remembers the Redskins quarterbacks that Super Bowl year.

Answer? Mark Rypien, Jeff Rutledge and Stan Humphries. Throw in the taxi squad quarterback and that is four. One too many, at least the way the rules, now and then, are supposed to work.

Even the following year, in 1992 Next Joe Gibbs QB fourth round pick Chris Hakel spent that season on IR with a quote knee unquote.

So when the salary cap was implemented along with free agency in in 1993, one of the key associated rules changes was to injured reserve. No longer could a team put a player on IR during the season and get him back that season.

Joe Gibbs, the biggest IR offender in the league, saw the writing on the wall after the Redskins playoff loss in 1992, a rising class of prima donna players free to move as they like between teams, the end of old school team cohesion, a new model for evaluating and developing deep draft talent. None of these was consistent with his way of doing things. So he got out.


In researching this piece I also came across another interesting piece related to injured reserve, a 2006 Gregg Easterbrook piece at ESPN, his main argument is that injured reserve is a rule principally designed to get players paid for doing nothing and to keep fans from seeing players they would want to see.

Gregg's big idea is to do away with injured reserve altogether, as well as roster limits, but maintain the salary cap. The idea is that teams could sign as many players as they want, keep them off the field if they are hurt and bring them back when they are ready, all as long as the team stayed under the total salary cap number for that year. So whether that was 40 highly paid players or 371, that being the number of players a team could sign to a roster if every one of them were undrafted free agents and paid the rookie minimum, why should a team be limited to an arbitrary number of players and a season ending IR designation as long as they stay under the cap.

It is a humorous piece if you look at it that way, as humor and not as serious commentary. Because as serious commentary it is incredibly stupid. Roster limits, salary caps and injured reserve designations all work together to ensure a level playing field. Throw in a freaking union in charge of looking after the players' interests and Gregg's idea is ridiculous.

Roster limits force teams with higher cash flow, like the Redskins, to stick to the same number of players as teams that are not cash rich, like the Packers, and also not simply to stock the team with inexpensive throwaway players. Injured reserve rules not only prevent teams from maintaining shadow rosters that could be eligible at some point in a playoff run or if the team tanks to evaluate for the next season, they force teams to evaluate real chances a player can come back from a given injury, which in turn affects how much a team is willing to pay him.

Note in 2007 the Redskins chose not to put Randy Thomas on IR after he tore a triceps in game two against the Eagles, that means the team had to hold that roster spot. Since teams do not get salary relief for putting a player on IR it did not make a difference financially to the team, they could have put Randy on IR and signed another player, so that option was there, in this case the Redskins made a football decision not to sacrifice a roster spot. Because those are the rules.

And anyway the NFL already has a problem with older players, making a higher salary or veteran minimum, being turned out before their time in favor of young players that cost less. Some teams *kaff kaffBengalskaff kaff* are not as concerned with a competitive product and are willing to take chances with less expensive and therefore riskier players. You get what you pay for. As a fan of quality football I can tell you owners need less incentive to turn out older players, not more.

Mark Rypien and the Redskins on the cover of the 3 February 1992 Sports Illustrated, six days after the Redskins trampled the Bills in Super Bowl 26 from here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

LOL Did You Know?

Money money money

That the NFL salary cap in its first year of enforcement, 1994, projected in 1993 at 32 million dollars, wound up at 34 million dollars? And that 2008's salary cap was 113 million dollars and 2009's will be 127 million dollars?

That is 375 percent growth over fifteen years, and better than nine percent annual growth.

The NFL remains pretty good work if you can get it.

Money toilet paper from here.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The UFL? More Like the LOL.

Just come out and call it what it is: the Michael Vick League

In just the past couple of days I have discovered the United Football League, or UFL, a four team fall professional football league that begins play in October with teams in Las Vegas/Los Angeles, Hartford/New York City, Orlando and San Francisco/Sacramento. I have no idea what the slashes mean unless home games will be split between the two home cities like the way the Packers pathetically split games between Green Bay and Milwaukee for 61 years.

I will tell you I am all for alternative leagues, I am too young to remember the World Football League, the WFL existed between 1973 and 1975, I was amused by the United States Football League, the USFL ran from 1982 to 1987 and I remember with some exitement plans in 1992 for the Professional Spring Football League, the PSFL was to be a spring league with a team in Washington, the Marauders, arrrgh mitey prepare to be barded!! Check here, here, here and here for a walk down PSFL memory lane. There was one training camp and the teams never took the field for a game. Yes yes the XFL whatever. I was excited about that one too and when I actually tried the product I could not sit through a single game.

So here we are with another alt pro football league, one with 30 million dollars in financial backing and some name brand coaches: Dennis Green, Jim Haslett and Ted Cottrell, all guys that should be in the NFL and know they could get a look if they wanted to, experienced guys that are not going to wait around for the Raiders job or the Cowboys job to open and suck their reputation dry. Jim Fassel on the other hand is like a last call skank ho barfly looking to go home with anyone willing to talk to her. Did I just say that out loud?

So what makes these guys think they can compete, in the fall with the NFL, and in this economy? Four critical success factors for the UFL emerge as I see them:

1. Local interest. The franchises will cater to cities with no NFL team, or that are at the least underserved by the NFL. San Francisco and New York notwithstanding, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Orlando certainly are legitimate NFL candidate cities, Sacramento is probably in the next tier and Hartford, I do not know what that is all about. For a model have a look at the Baltimore Stallions of the CFL's US expansion from 1993 to 1995. The Stallions were a great team, well run, won the 1995 Grey Cup and averaged more than 30 thousand attendance over their two seasons.

2. Labor unrest in the NFL. With the collective bargaining agreement between the players union and owners cabal set to expire at the end of the 2010 season and little activity on the labor front, the UFL is hoping enough scraps in the form of players, fannies and eyeballs fall from the billion dollar negotiating table to make the league sustainable. The UFL has no delusions of rivaling the NFL, they just want to be able to put another quality football driven product (as opposed to the XFL which was not football driven).

3. The lack of a developmental tier for the NFL. Despite the increase in roster size from 47 to 53 in 1993 (and the lock down of injured reserve to a season ending designation), there is still a huge need for NFL caliber talent beyond the current rosters. Baseball has the farm system and hockey and basketball have large international presences and other leagues for the almost guys to play in. Given the rate of injury in the NFL, typical roster churn and a compensation system that turns out veterans when they become too costly and not when they are no longer able to contribute, a place for the next 200 guys to play would be a great thing, if there was freedom of movement between the leagues. Yes the NFL Europa was supposed to be that developmental league but like an Apple Store in al-Anbar you have to get the setting right for the business plan to work.

4. No one gives Michael Vick a job right out of the joint. Former NFL quarterback Michael Vick should be out of prison by July and the NFL seems cool to him right now, Michael is still technically suspended from the NFL and I have heard, mainly on Sirius NFL Radio, a league owned property, that Roger Goodell may go ahead and suspend Michael for the 2009 season to ensure he will not appear in a game until he has been out of jail and stayed clean for a whole year. If he wants to, Michael will get back to the NFL, the UFL would offer Michael an opportunity to work into shape, hone his chops and be on display as a model citizen.

Could be fun. Or could be I never watch a game or even notice when this league quietly expires with no fuss and a clean cadaver.

Tell you what UFL, I will make a deal with you. Start up a Washington area franchise and I will start up a blog to cover it, I will recruit a writer for this minor league Curly R, one I can work long hours and pay terrible wages for the dangerous, physical work that is covering a football team year round, I will encourage and mentor him while simultaneously crushing his soul with the cruel, ever present and ultimately unattainable goal of some day making the big leagues.

AOL Fanhouse has a take on why this could work.

UFL homepage screenshot from here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Redskins Truth that Dare Not Be Spoken Is a Player

Actually this has come up a time or two

Monday Curly R wondered if the Redskins were guilty of tampering in the signing of former Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth to a seven year 100 million dollar contract that was, if done according to the rules, entirely created in the first five and a half hours of free agency.

As we are wont to do, Curly R referenced among the reasons the Redskins might be in the market for Albert the notion that Dan Snyder tires of his toys and exhibits a persistent preference for players from the outside at the expense of retaining existing Redskins players in the pursuit of stability.

See also Antonio Pierce, Ryan Clark, Shawn Barber, Greg Jones, Derek Smith, Robert Royal. Feel free to drop others in comments.

The supposed tampering smoking gun was a radio interview with Redskins kick returner Rock Cartwright on the morning free agency began. Going back and listening to that three and a half minute interview, Rock dropped this bomb, check starting at 1:10 into the segment (emphasis mine):

Kevin Sheehan, ESPN 980: [the Redskins] took last year off [the top shelf free agent market], but you've been around here a while and you know this is sometimes the most exciting part of the year for this franchise, do you guys get a kick out of how this team from a senior brass standpoint handles free agency?

Rock Cartwright: uhh, I guess you could say yeah, no at some times, you know, a lot of guys that have been here like myself, Khary Campbell those guys that's been here, worked real hard, we kind of feel that sometimes the guys that's been here don't really get rewarded but the guys that come from another team do so it kind of leaves us in limbo, but at the same time we are appreciative to have a job and you know, be able to do the things we're able to do on the field.

I expect Rock is already at Redskins re education camp and will return in April with shiny happy fun thoughts for harmonious love dear leader Dan Snyder.

Rock Cartwright: Getty Image from here.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Are the Redskins Guilty of Tampering in the Albert Haynesworth Deal?

Boy you're a regular Colombo

A story I have been following since the NFL combine last month is making some news and we may hear more about it this week: are the Redskins guilty of tampering in the acquisition of free agent score Albert Haynesworth?

Albert's old team the Tennessee Titans seem to think so. In honor of my brother, the author and newly frocked US Marine Lieutenant Colonel, I will give you the BLUF (bottom line up front): Hell yes. And hell no.


The Redskins were sort of always in the mix for Albert Haynesworth, for at least four reasons, in no particular order:

1. Washington has a genuine need at the defensive tackle spot. And has for so long that overkill is justified.

2. All top drawer free agent representatives float the Redskins as a possible destination. This is because Dan Snyder is wealthy enough that his cash position is never in conflict with his cap position. Cash solves cap.

3. The Redskins are conspicuous for dipping into the market for top drawer talent in more years than not. And they set the market.

4. Dan Snyder prefers outside players to his own. He tires of his toys before they wear out. Perhaps number three is actually a corollary of this one.

So it was no surprise to me that Dan Snyder and Vinny Cerrato were spotted the evening of Sunday 22 February dining at Morton's in Indianapolis with Albert Haynesworth's agent Chad Speck during the NFL combine.

Two days later on 24 February Lance Zeirlein at the Houston Chronicle reported that his well connected and usually accurate source inside the NFL had told him Albert Haynesworth to the Redskins was a done deal, in a contract that would be worth upwards of 100 million dollars. This was still nearly 72 hours before free agency started.

In case you do not know the rules, free agents are not technically free agents until midnight on the last day of the football year, the last Thursday in February. One minute after midnight on that Friday, all expiring contracts are no longer in effect.

But up until that moment, players are still under contract to their old teams and they and their agents and representatives are not permitted to negotiate with other teams. To do so for the player represents breach of contract and for the prospective team represents tampering. Tampering charges are adjudicated by the office of the commissioner and when upheld result in fines and loss of draft picks for the tampering tam, often to be given to the losing team.

So under the rules of the system the free agent is not even free to begin to discuss the contours of a deal, much less the particulars of bonuses and incentives, escalators and weigh ins, until that moment.

Which makes it all that much more interesting that the Redskins were able to get every little thing about Albert's seven year 100 million dollar deal done between midnight Thursday and 5:30 am Friday.

Three days earlier there was already some speculation that the Titans might be interested in pursuing a tampering case. And Tennessee head coach Jeff Fisher is a member of the competition committee. Could the team let this go even if it was business as usual in the NFL?

Ten days later, on 7 March Jim Wyatt at the Tennessean reported that the Titans were interested in pursuing a tampering case against the Redskins, that the scuttlebutt and timing were just too suspect for a deal that size (hat tip to the ubiquitous Michael David Smith at Fanhouse for the link).

At this point most knowledgeable football fans would have to think this is bluster, that this is all sturm und drang over a player Tennessee could never convince to come back for a reasonable amount of money. One more case of a team complaining about the system that it is a part of.

And think about it. Morton's is not exactly a private location. If Chad Speck and Dan Snyder thought that being seen in public five days ahead of the big day would constitute a tampering risk, there are no doubt hundreds of private hotel conference rooms around Indianapolis. It is the quote everybody does it unquote mentality.

But then the Redskins threw some fresh wood on the fire, on their own radio station no less. On Friday morning 27 February, the first day of free agency, Redskins tailback and kick returner Rock Cartwright did an interview with Andy Pollin on WTEM 980, the Washington area sports talk station owned by Dan Snyder's Red Zebra Broadcasting. The same Dan Snyder that owns the Redskins. In the interview Rock appears to admit that he knew, along with at least one other player, that Washington's and Albert's representatives were negotiating before the start of free agency.

The audio is here, the key section is right at the beginning, emphasis mine:

Andy Pollin: At what time did you learn that Albert Haynesworth was going to be a teammate, Rock?

Rock Cartwright: Pretty much this morning when I woke up, put on NFL Network, they had breaking news going across the bottom of the screen, that he had signed for 100 million. But I kind of had an idea they were going to sign him anyway because one of my teammates, they have the same agent and he said they had been talking so...

Note carefully that this interview was conducted in the morning of the first day of free agency, meaning that quote had been talking unquote could reasonably be interpreted to be prior to midnight the night before.

It has also been reported that Redskins receiver Malcolm Kelly is also represented by Chad Speck (op. cit.).


So what does all this mean? Did the Redskins tamper with Albert Haynesworth in order to ensure he would up with Washington? Yes they did. And it happens all the time. Off the record conversations, plausible deniability and outright lies make it all possible. And the Redskins are not the only team to do it.

But is it tampering practically speaking? No it is not, and that is precisely because every team has access to the same practice and they all would like to reserve the right to deploy it. I also have a larger question and that is, why prevent a player from negotiating with another team if he has no intention of re signing with his current team? A reasonable rules change would allow a player to declare whether he intended to sign with another team and if he did not then he could begin talks with other teams. He would still not be permitted to sign with any team until free agency starts, but it would negate the lie that teams and players do not talk when they should not.

What would I like as a Redskins fan? Not to believe my team breaks the rules, and beyond that not to believe the rules do not matter. If there is tampering, then catch it and punish the team. If the rules do not matter then change them.

Loose lips sink ships from here.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Newsflash: Jim Zorn to Focus on Quarterbacks

Department of the Obvious

So when the offseason training program starts tomorrow, no longer rookie coach Jim Zorn plans to concentrate on the quarterbacks, Jason Campbell, Todd Collins and Colt Brennan. Just like he did last year.

I say again, former NFL quarterback Jim Zorn, whose highest profile job prior to taking the Redskins head coaching position was seven years coaching quarterbacks for the Seattle Seahawks, a team that likes to throw the ball a lot, will work closely with the quarterbacks during this offseason.


Jim Zorn and Jason Campbell: Paul Sancya / AP photo from here.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Fat (Contract) Albert - Part Two

Grilled stuft backfield

What? You say the Redskins new 100 million dollar investment has an anger management problem? Well who doesn't these days, Zoloft is practically the national accessory. So setting aside little things like rage on high boil and a capacity to hurt people, what kind of player is this guy? Curly R's two part series on Washington's new franchise player concludes.

Part One: Off the Field
Part Two: On the Field


Albert Haynesworth got good playing time his first year with the Tennessee Titans, the team that selected him fifteenth overall in the 2002 NFL draft out of the University of Tennessee. He appeared in every game, starting only the last three and the two playoff games, in 2002 Albert totaled 30 tackles and one sack (or more accurately, two half sacks).

By 2003 Albert moved into a starting spot and started eleven games and the two playoff games, missing four games in September and October with a dislocated left elbow and the final game of the season by coach Jeff Fisher for punching Titans offensive tackle teammate Matt Martin. That year Albert totaled 32 tackles and 2.5 sacks. The Titans run defense was ranked number one that year, surrendering 80.9 yards per game on the ground. Not counting his rookie year in 2002 when he was a part time starter, Albert at this point has missed five out of eighteen games, or 28 percent of games.

Albert started the first nine games of the 2004 season, totaled 32 tackles and a sack in that stretch, in game nine against the Bears Albert dislocated his other elbow, the right one, and missed the next six games before coming back for the season finale where he racked up another four tackles for a total of 36 for the season. Tennessee did not make the playoffs and the Titans' run defense fell to number eighteen that year. Albert has now missed eleven of thirty-four games, or 32 percent of games.

In 2005 Albert progressed as an inside force and missed two games with a sprained knee, managed 52 tackles and three sacks in the other fourteen games. Tennessee missed the playoffs again and despite Albert's improved play fell to number twenty-two in run defense. Albert has now missed thirteen of fifty games, or 26 percent of games.

Albert missed more playing time in 2006 though it was not about injury. After raking Cowboys center Andre Gurode's face with his cleats in the fourth game of the season, Albert was suspended five games. His final season tallies were 30 tackles and two sacks. The Titans missed the playoffs for the third straight year and Tennessee's run defense slipped to 30th overall. Albert has now missed eighteen of sixty-six games, or 27 percent of games.

For much of 2007 Albert was having a great year, he missed four games and most of a fifth with a recurring right hamstring injury. The Titans were back in the playoffs in 2007 and Albert was part of a run defense that rebounded from 30th in 2006 to fifth in 2007 (one spot behind Washington) and Albert tallied 40 tackles and five sacks, including a three sack performance against Carolina and was selected to his first Pro Bowl. Albert has now missed twenty-two of eighty-three games, or 27 percent of games.

Tennessee maintained its stout run defense in 2008, finishing sixth (two spots ahead of Washington), Albert had an outstanding season overall tallying 51 tackles and 8.5 sacks and was selected to his second (consecutive) Pro Bowl. However Albert suffered a left MCL sprain in game fourteen against the Texans and missed the final two games of the season before coming back for the playoffs.

Over his career as a full time starter, 2003 through 2008 Albert has missed twenty-four of one hundred games due to injury or suspension, that works out to missing 24 percent of games.

What the Redskins got for their 100 million dollars is a dominant defensive tackle, a guy that can collapse the pocket from the inside and that will draw regular double teams. Partner him with Cornelius Griffin and the Redskins suddenly have tackles that might be hard to run through. Blocking schemes will move inside, giving edge rushers better shots at the quarterback and the play. The defensive backs should benefit as quarterbacks have less time to consider a throw before making it.

What they also got is a guy projected to miss four games in 2009. Let us hope this whole thing works out.

Albert Haynesworth resisting the urge to stomp on Warrick Dunn's face, uncredited image from here.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Fat (Contract) Albert - Part One

Just don't make him mad. PS he's always mad.

Wow. So the Redskins nabbed Titans massive defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, the jewel of 2009 free agency. And paid him a lot of money. A laaaaaahhhht of money. The deal Albert signed with Washington on the first day of free agency is worth up to 115 million dollars over seven years with 41 million dollars guaranteed.

If this works out like it is supposed to then the Redskins defense, already an elite squad four of the past five years, just became downright dangerous. Of course things sometimes have a way of working out in ways unexpected. Today The Curly R begins a two part series on Washington's new franchise player.

Part One: Off the Field
Part Two: On the Field


Albert Haynesworth was drafted by the Tennessee Titans with the fifteenth pick overall in the 2002 NFL draft out of the University of Tennessee, the same year defenders Julius Peppers, Dwight Freeney and Ryan Sims were taken. Albert obviously brought talent, he also brought a barely controlled rage, in 2000 as a sophomore at Tennessese Albert got into an altercation with Volunteers offensive tackle Will Ofenheusle, Albert stormed off the practice field and came back with what is described as a pole, apparently looking to strike his teammate again and again until such time or number of blows as his sense of justice was satisfied. Now fired Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer quote suspended unquote Albert for all of one half game, sending an oh so clear signal that individuals of his skill are not above the rules of sportsmanship. That's one.

Three years later in 2003 training camp Albert kicked teammate center Justin Hartwig in the chest (op. cit.). Albert was later suspended for the last game of that season for punching teammate offensive tackle Matt Martin (ibid.). That's two and three.

Three years later in the 2006 offseason Albert was arrested in a road rage altercation, a woman and her son in law claim that Albert tried to run them off the road in his Ford F-650 truck on Interstate 40 in Tennessee. In the complaint the driver said Albert was harrassing them and tried to pass them on the left shoulder and that they felt threatened. If you have not have seen the Ford F-650 have a look here. I am terrified and ready to file charges just looking at it. Pretty close to four but this one went away for Albert.

Some of the charges were dismissed a week later when it became apparent the police did not know where they were, and the rest were dismissed the next day. The arrest was the result of a complaint by the other driver and after a quote investigation unquote the prosecutors declined to press the remaining charges.

Later that year, in October Albert stomped on the helmetless face of Cowboys center Andre Gurode, an injury that required 30 stitches to close. The YouTube of the incident is here, in the scrum at the end of the play Albert kicks Andre once in the head as the man is on the ground then once Andre's helmet is off just rakes his cleats over Andre's face in a very deliberate fashion. Albert is suspended five games by the league, a record for on field bad behavior. The Titans claimed back the five games worth of Albert's signing bonus and talked big about maybe cutting ties with him and in a heroic display of principle and fairness let Albert come back as though nothing happened. That's four.

Two years later in March of 2008 Albert was cited for driving 103 miles per hour in a 70 miles per hour zone (ibid.). Later that month Albert's wife filed for divorce, citing quote inappropriate marital conduct and irreconcilable differences unquote. Nine months later in December of 2008 Albert was fined one thousand dollars and placed on thirty days probation for that moving violation from March (op. cit.). Then it gets weird.

Four days later Albert was charged with careless driving after passing other cars at upwards of 80 miles per hour, causing one car to crash into a concrete median (ibid.), injuring the driver. Although the careless driving charge was eventually dropped (ibid.), Albert was indicted yesterday on reckless driving charges and for violating the probation he had been placed on FOUR DAYS EARLIER. (WaPo Redskins Insider / Friday paper)

Check that again, all Albert had to do was stay in the right lane and drive the speed limit for thirty days and could not do it. Ninety-six hours after being hauled in front of a judge and being yelled at for being a reckless driver he was out in his Ferrari driving like such a complete asshole that he left crashed cars and injuries in his wake. That's what, five, six and seven?

These charges carry possible jail time. Dan Dan the Sports Bog Man wonders aloud on his own platform why the Redskins official site and official blog are silent on the matter.

Great to see character matters in the Redskins' war room.

Fat Contract Albert continues tomorrow with part two, On the Field.

Albert Haynesworth resisting the urge to stomp on Warrick Dunn's face, uncredited image from here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Thank You Detroit. Or Is It Thank You Buffalo?

Welcome back big guy

Hard to beat down on the Lions, former Redskin Martin Mayhew is their general manager and before you say another former Redskin, Matt Millen was also Detroit's general manager think about this:

Martin's first deal as the Lions general manager was to trade disappointing receiver Roy Williams and a 2010 seventh round draft pick to Dallas for the Cowboys' first, third and sixth round picks in the upcoming 2009 draft. The Cowboys then gave Roy a five year, 45 million dollar contract with 20 million dollars guaranteed.

What did Roy do for the Cowboys last season? Nine games, seven starts, fourteen catches, 198 yards. That is more than one million dollars guaranteed per catch and nearly one hundred thousand dollars guaranteed per yard receiving.

So as if Redskins fans were not already wallowing like hogs in seeing the Cowboys give up lots for a little as they prepare suffer through the 2009 draft missing two top half picks, all thanks to the Lions, Detroit goes and drops another gift in Washington's lap: Derrick Dockery, returned to the Redskins for a five year 27 million dollar contract featuring 8.5 million guaranteed dollars over the first two years.

Or was it the Bills that gave us back Derrick?

Here is the deal: when I heard on the day free agency started that the Bills had released Derrick, it seemed weird to me. After the 2006 season he left the Redskins to sign with the Bills for seven years and 49 million dollars. Two years later the Bills cut him, I did not follow the Bills closely enough to know if he played well last year, I thought he had a pretty good 2007 in Buffalo.

All this cutting teams do of guys early in big contracts is usually evidence of regret, see also Adam Archuleta in Washington and DeAngelo Hall in Oakland, that the team made such a big mistake that the cap hit from accelerating the guaranteed money and annualized slices of signing bonus is worth it to be done with a guy. Did not seem to me that Derrick in Buffalo was one of those guys. So I thought what the hell, yay for us, Derrick is back.

Then I read this Jason Reid piece last week in the Washington Post, at the end of the story is this:

The Bills and Lions had agreed to a trade last Thursday, with the Lions willing to pick up the remainder of the deal Dockery signed with the Bills and guarantee the 2009 and 2010 portions of that deal. But Buffalo failed to file the necessary paperwork with the NFL Management Council by the 4 p.m. deadline, according to a league source. Rather than pay Dockery $4.5 million for the 2009 season, the Bills released him.

Sounds here like the Bills dropped the ball.

I decided to do some homework and here is what I found. The Bills were going to release Derrick Thursday night 26 February, the night before free agency started. Derrick was due a 1.75 million dollar roster bonus at midnight that night, you see Friday 27 February is the first day of the new football year.

Curly R aside: I think we need to make this a holiday, New Football Year's Day. A day for the football ascetic to ponder the renewal of football and the end of a bottle of whiskey.

The Bills did not want to pay that roster bonus so they were going to cut Derrick. Note that by cutting him the team would have saved that 1.75 million dollars against the cap, BUT the accelerated cap hit from other guaranteed monies and the remaning five slices of his signing bonus amounts to 5.4 million dollars. That is money that cannot be spent in 2009. And I am not quite certain how saving 1.75 million against the cap and losing 5.4 million against the cap somehow nets you out to saving 450 thousand against the cap but hey I am a Redskins fan and we do not deal in pocket change like Bills fans who have to check their wallet before they order at Bennigans.

Apparently in the afternoon on Thursday, as the Bills were preparing the paperwork to cut Derrick, the Lions swooped in and offered a 2010 seventh rounder in trade for Derrick, Detroit was willing to guarantee Derrick's scheduled 2009 and 2010 salaries. God knows Detroit needs help on the offensive line. And everywhere else.

There are some adminstrative details to the story, like in order for the trade to happen Derrick would have to agree to defer the roster bonus for a few days and pass a physical, you would think at this point in the nearly one hundred year history of the NFL teams would have figured out how to do this stuff on deadline but you would be wrong.

The Bills and Lions could not agree on a deal, the 4pm ET deadline for filing extension paperwork passed and the teams were unable to execute the trade. Buffalo released Derrick, who visited the Lions the next day and I am sure had a good laugh in Detroit's little inbred face before coming to Washington to sign a five year 27 million dollar contract with 11.5 million dollars guaranteed.

As an epilogue to the story, Brian Galliford over at SBN blog Buffalo Rumblings wonders if the Lions did not game the Bills by getting Derrick in Detroit for a phyiscal, then stalling up until the 4pm deadline knowing that if the Bills did not agree to their trade demands that Derrick would then be a free agent and already in Detroit, giving the Lions the edge in signing him.

Whatever clumsy nerd sex Detroit and Buffalo were trying to have they blew it and the Redskins upgraded at left guard. That just leaves the matter of Pete Kendall, left guard the past two seasons and now a free agent whose representative just told the Washington Times' David Elfin last night that he wants to find a starting job and does not want to come back to Washington unless he can get one. He is 36 and did not miss a game both seasons with the Redskins.

The left side of the Redskins offensive line was dominant for most of last season, and I thank Pete for being a part of that. As to his desires to find a starting job at 36 with arthritic knees I say good luck, take it if you can get it. You might be able to pull a Ray Brown and extend your career and your paycheck a couple of seasons longer if you agree to stay here and be a depth player. Derrick is our man at left guard.

Derrick Dockery as a Redskin from September 2003: Jamie Squire / Getty Images from here via here.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Thank You Bubba Tyer

With the Redskins almost as long as I have been alive

In a story that may have been missed by some Redskins fans, long time trainer and head of sports medicine Bubba Tyer retired from the team back on 16 January. He had been with the team for a total of 37 years, including 25 as head athletic trainer.

Bubba joined the Redskins in 1971, joining up with the team the same year as George Allen, after not making the playoffs for twenty-five straight years through 1970 Washington qualified for the playoffs thirteen of Bubba's first twenty-two with the team. Some of the players Bubba treated over his career with the Redskins:

Darrell Green, Ken Houston, Deacon Jones, Terry Metcalf, Eric Metcalf, Sonny Jurgensen, Art Monk, John Riggins, Gerald Riggs and Charley Taylor. Ken Harvey, Stan Humphries, Jay Schroeder, Heath Shuler, Bruce Smith, George Starke, Olanda Truitt, Len Hauss, Andy Heck, Billy Kilmer, Ki-Jana Carter, Sam Wyche and Russ Grimm. Adrian Murrell, Ross Tucker, Andre Reed, Terry Orr, Stephen Alexander, Shawn Barber, Greg Jones, Richie Petitbon, Tony Banks, Shar Pourdanesh, Terry Allen and Fred Smoot. Wilber Marshall. Jeff George, Al Noga, Mike Sellers. LaVar Arrington, Irving Fryar, Todd Husak, Champ Bailey, Antonio Pierce, Rod Gardner, Brad Johnson, Reggie Roby, Dana Stubblefield, Ethan Horton, Flipper Anderson, Kent Graham, Russ Grimm, Ryan Kuehl, Jim Lachey, Tydus Wynans, Kenard Lang, Michael Westbrook, Stephen Davis, Albert Connell, Don Warren, Monte Coleman, Kurt Gouveia, Trent Green, Adam Archuleta, Henry Ellard, Pete Kendall, Randy Thomas, Deion Sanders, Santana Moss, Jamie Asher, Jon Jansen, Jeff Bostic, Desmond Howard, Chris Samuels, Calvin Hill, Ladell Betts, Leonard Marshall, Marco Coleman, Eddie Murray, Leslie Shepherd, Rodney Peete, Tim Johnson and Rob Johnson. Chad Morton, Rich Gannon. Todd Collins, Joe Theismann, Dan Wilkinson, James Thrash, Cary Conklin and Shawn Springs. John Friesz, LaRon Landry, Diron Talbert and London Fletcher. TJ Duckett, Alvoid Mays, Brian Mitchell, Reggie Brooks, Patrick Ramsey, Tre' Johnson, George Rogers. Robert Green, Mark Brunell, Rock Cartwright, Ray Brown, Matt Turk, Brandon Lloyd, Ricky Ervins, Gus Frerotte, Derrick Dockery, Chris Horton, Tom Carter, Carlos Rogers and Robert Royal. Matt Millen, Mark Moseley, Clint Didier. Mel Kaufman, Ryan Clark, Mark Schlereth, Frank Wycheck, William Bell, Andre Collins. Sean Taylor. Chip Lohmiller, AJ Johnson, Greg Manusky, Colt Brennan, Mark Rypien, Clinton Portis, Laveranues Coles and Chris Cooley. Ricky Sanders, Ali Hali-Sheikh, Ed Simmons, Mo Elewonibi, Joe Washington, Carl Banks, Pat Fischer. Earnest Byner, Barry Wilburn, Marvcus Patton, Joe Jacoby, Dexter Manley, Brad Edwards, Jumpy Geathers, Martin Mayhew, Ravin Caldwell, Jess Atkinson, Fred Stokes, Mark Moseley, Larry Brown, Gary Clark, Doug Williams, Mike Nelms, Alvin Walton, Charlie Brown. Mike Tice, Brig Owens, Neal Olkewicz, Mark May, Chris Hanburger, Max Zendejas, Dave Butz, Deacon Jones, Jack Pardee, Mark Murphy, Rick Doc Walker, Charles Mann, Steve Bartkowski, Raleigh McKenzie and Jason Taylor.

Think about that. And think about this: with Bubba retiring, the George Allen era finally comes to an end.

Bubba moved to an administrative position in 2002 then retired in 2003 and was elevated to the Redskins Ring of Fame. Then when Joe Gibbs returned in 2004 he asked his old friend Bubba to come back, and Bubba could not say no.

Now, after five years back with the team and at 67 years old, Bubba has decided to call it a career. He may be gone but will not be forgotten and will not allow himself to be forgotten, he says he will be attending the Redskins first game at the Cowboys new stadium in 2009 (op. cit.).

Here is another metric for you: Bubba's career in Washington spanned 602 regular season games. Bubba was a fixture of the team and recognized by perhaps three generations of Redskins fans.

Thank you Bubba for your service and your contribution to Redskins history. Enjoy yourself in retirement!

Bubba Tyer: uncredited photo from here.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Go See Watchmen

Original fanboy

I have just returned from seeing Watchmen, a movie I have been waiting twenty years to see.

It is long and somewhat ponderous if you are not an ophile, and it is definitely not a superhero movie.

It is an outstanding movie.

Yes those are my original first run mint condition limited series Watchmen books from 1986 and 1987 in mylar bags with acid free backing.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Happy Birthday Jon Jansen

Hog for life

Please join me and the entire staff of The Curly R in wishing a happy birthday to Redskins right tackle Jon Jansen, Jon turned 33 back on 28 January.

The Redskins drafted Jon out of the University of Michigan in the second round of the 1999 NFL draft, 20 spots ahead of teammate right guard Randy Thomas, selected by the Jets. Jon was a two time All-Big Ten player at tackle and a first team All-American his senior year in 1998.

He cracked the starting lineup with the Redskins immediately, starting all eighteen games his rookie year in 1999, sixteen regular season plus the playoff games against Detroit and Tampa Bay. That year Stephen Davis gained more than 1400 yards on the ground. Jon continued his streak in 2000, starting all sixteen games and helping to block Stephen Davis to 1318 yards. Jon's third year in 2001 was more of the same, Jon started all sixteen games, Stephen Davis rushed for what was then a team record 1432 yards.

Becoming something of a cliche, 2002 was another solid season, Jon started all sixteen games again and despite the turmoil of Steve Spurrier's first season which saw three different starting quarterbacks and a platoon of tailbacks that gained more than 1800 yards on the ground. Can you guess what Jon did in 2003? If you guessed start all sixteen games and play well on a mediocre team as the Steve Spurrier era came to an ignominious end then give yourself a gold star.

The Redskins played the Hall of Fame Game in Canton Ohio to kick off the 2004 preseason, in the first quarter of that game against the Broncos, on the first play of the Redskins' second possession Jon tore his left Achilles tendon and was lost for the year. Already then, five years ago, the Redskins longest tenured player (op. cit.), Jon was lost for the season, ending his 82 game starting streak, Jon had never missed a game in his pro career.

Jon rehabbed and came back strong in 2005, once again playing every game for the sixth time in seven seasons and helped fuel the Redskins for a two game playoff run. On the strength of Washington's offensive line tailback Clinton Portis gained a franchise record 1516 yards on the ground. Jon missed one game in 2006, game fourteen against the Saints, Jon had broken his thumb, again, the previous week and that is also the week we learned Jon had torn his calf muscle... five weeks earlier and was playing through pain. That season Ladell Betts gained over 1100 yards in relief of Clinton Portis. The team had nothing to play for on the way to a 5-11 season but Jon wanted to stay in the game.

Jon suffered his second serious injury in the first game of the 2007 season against the Dolphins, a dislocated right ankle in the second quarter. He would not play again that season.

Come the 2008 season and new head coach Jim Zorn, Jon was pitted against second year tackle Stephon Heyer, Jon lost his starting job before regaining it after three games. The offensive line, particularly the right side, struggled at times in 2008 though it was plenty good enough to send Clinton Portis through for a near franchise record 1487 yards on the ground and protected Jason Campbell well enough that he threw only six interceptions all season.

Jon had a tough season last year to be sure, now step back and look at his tenure with the Redskins and tell me he is not one of our all time greats.

Happy birthday Jon!

Jon Jansen: Washington Post photo from here.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Happy Birthday Randy Thomas

Hard to remember when he wasn't here

Please join me in wishing Redskins right guard Randy Thomas a happy birthday, he turned 33 back on 19 January (sorry I am late on this one Randy, I get lazy in the offseason too).

Randy was drafted by the Jets in the second round of the 1999 draft out of Mississippi State and cracked the starting lineup immediately. He started all 16 games in both 1999 and 2000 and was part of a unit known for run blocking (Curtis Martin, 1464 yards in 1999), pass blocking (245 passing yards per game in 2000) and protecting the quarterback (the Jets offensive line allowed 20 sacks in 2000 and 19 in 2001).

Randy's rookie contract was up at the end of the 2002 season, he was a Pro Bowl alternate that year, it was a 2003 offseason priority of the Jets to keep Randy, they could not as Randy signed a seven year 28 million dollar contract with a seven million dollar bonus, a veritable steal in today's dollars, with the Redskins. That year, 2003, Randy was a Pro Bowl alternate once again on a line that blocked the platoon of Trung Canidate (600 yards), Rock Cartwright (411 yards), Ladell Betts (255 yards) and Chad Morton (216 yards) to 1482 yards on the ground.

Since then Randy has been a solid player for the Redskins, Clinton Portis gained over 1300 yards in 2004, a franchise record 1516 in 2005 and Ladell Betts 1154 on nine starts in relief of an injured Clinton. In that four season period from 2003 to 2006 Randy only missed three games.

In the 2007 offseason the team gave Randy an extension in a classic cash over cap deal, giving Randy a ten million dollar bonus and locking him up through the 2011 season. Sadly though Randy was lost to a torn triceps in the second game of the 2007 season against the Eagles, sitting out the next ten games before coming back in game thirteen to help the Redskins beat the Bears without Jason Campbell, Randy hurt his elbow in that game and the team had to shut him down to injured reserve to end the season.

In 2008 Randy was back to his regular spot, he started all sixteen games last season and had a solid if unspectacular season, despite questions about the right side of the line all season Clinton Portis still managed to gain 1487 yards and Jason Campbell had time to throw for over 3200 yards with but six interceptions.

Randy will be back and ready to gor for 2009, the Redskins are solid at right guard.

Happy birthday Randy!

Redskins right guard Randy Thomas: Charles Dharapak / AP photo from here.

Thursday, March 05, 2009


Just say no to burgundy and gold

The Dallas Cowboys released receiver Terrell Owens today and I am pleased, despite never having found a second Pro Bowl caliber receiver to complement Santana Moss, the Redskins have shown no interest. Verruh verruh pleased.

Keep this guy the hell away from my team.

We have already read this story before, its name was Deion Sanders. I hated Deion Sanders in Dallas, I hated Deion Sanders in Washington and I still hate Deion Sanders.

Besides, what number would Terrell wear in Washington?

Terrell Owens composite from 49ers, Eagles and Cowboys from here.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

"You can't buy a championship"

Goes without saying but bears repeating

This morning on the Sirius NFL Radio morning show Opening Drive hosts Bob Pappa and Randy Cross were talking to regular caller Bennie from the Bronx, Bennie is very knowledgeable about football overall and is a 49ers fan, he was lamenting the notion that if Eddie DeBartolo was still the team owner Kurt Warner never would have left San Francisco without a contract.

In 1998 Eddie was implicated in the corruption case of former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards, governor Edwards had demanded 400 thousand dollars from Eddie to grant Eddie a Louisiana riverboat gambling license. Eddie ultimately pled guilty to failure to report a felony, paid a one million dollar fine and as a result was fined by the NFL and barred by the league from running the 49ers for one year. The next year in 2000 Eddie sold his interest in the team to his sister Mary DeBartolo York and is out of the football business.

Randy Cross, a three time Pro Bowler and three time Super Bowl champion with the 49ers from 1976 to 1988 and former employee of Eddie's, disagreed with Bennie in a deliberately ironic fashion, noting that if Eddie were still in charge of the team there would already have been a franchise quarterback in place and the team would not have been scrambling to rent a gun for a year or two at fifteen million per.

Bob, Randy and Bennie then went on to discuss Eddie's free spending ways and then Bob and Randy compared the old way of spending in San Francisco (and in the league in general before a salary cap) to Redskins owner Dan Snyder's profligate ways, comparing Dan to a bank with bad habits and in need of a bailout, and of course they referenced Washington's tendency to make the biggest free agency splash every couple of years, have a look at 2000, 2003, 2004 and 2006.

After some good crosstalk Randy came to the point every football knows and every Redskins fan must live with:

You cannot buy a championship. You can buy players and you can buy talent. But championships are not for sale.

Redskins owner Dan Snyder: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP photo from here.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Dancing Somewhere Else Next Year

Wrong again

A very short chapter in Redskins history has been completed, the Redskins cut defensive end Jason Taylor yesterday. He was here for a total of one seasons.

I thought this was a pretty good deal at the time, something needed to happen with two defensive ends, starter Phillip Daniels and backup Alex Buzbee, both going down on the same day, and Bill Parcells having put Jason on the trading block days earlier. Jason it seems was unhappy about the Dolphins heading into yet another year of rebuilding, Bill Parcells or no Jason was 33 last summer, starting to contemplate the NFL sunset and what he would do afterwards and wanted to win.

Bill Parcells, newly hired as Dolphins general manager, on the other hand was a bit miffed (op. cit.) about all the time Jason spent on Dancing with the Starts and in trying to break in Entourage style to Hollywood.

So it seemed like a good deal, Washington's second rounder in the upcoming 2009 draft and a sixth rounder in the 2010 draft was the cost.

But it never really worked out. As a number of people said and wrote, Washington already had a speed edge rusher in Andre Carter and trading Phillip Daniels for Jason Taylor was trading run stoppage for pass rush. Already tragically unable to stop the run lo these last few years, the team acquired a guy they already had and ignored what they really needed. To make matters worse they asked him to switch sides in deference to Andre Carter.

Then Jason sprained his knee in the preseason debacle against Carolina, that would have been only a minor setback, but then after getting kicked in the calf in game three against the Cardinals, Jason had pain overnight and then emergency surgery to relieve acute compartment syndrome, a buildup of pressure in a group of muscles in the arm or leg. The initial recovery time for the twenty minute surgery was projected at one week to seven months, Jason wound up missing two games but was nearly invisible for the rest of the season, totaling a whopping 29 tackles and 3.5 sacks for the year, down from 58 tackles and 11 sacks for the Dolphins in 2007, continuing a three season decline.

After the season Jason was unsure about whether to return and openly questioned himself as to whether he was worth eight million dollars to the Redskins in 2009. After a period of reflection Jason decided he was back in the game and was going to return and be ready for the season.


The team though I think had other plans and I question how this whole thing looks. Apparently the show stopper was a workout clause the team wanted to add to Jason's contract that would have mandated Jason attend 75 percent of offseason workouts, beginning this month and going right up to the start of training camp. In exchange for attending these workouts the team was going to add a 500 thousand dollar workout bonus to Jason's contract.

Jason said no, he did not want to spend any more time away from his family than necessary, after spending the entire 2008 season in Washington by himself, his family makes their home in Miami, he wanted to be with his wife and three daughters.

Have a look at the mechanics of this situation.

Seventy-five percent of the workouts is 39 sessions. Fourteen of them would have been mandatory, between organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamps. That leaves 25 workouts to attend in thirteen weeks. To hear Vinny Cerrato describe it, Jason could have come in Tuesday, worked out Wednesday and Thursday and flown home Thursday afternoon. Seems reasonable to me, why would Jason not agree to this?

Then look at the flip side. After Jason agreed to honor his original contract with no changes and the team agreeing to that notion, the team now suddenly is asking Jason to come to town every week for the whole summer.

Me? I do not see a problem with that and was a bit disappointed when former coach Joe Gibbs agreed to let players work out on their own after the 2006 season, I would like to see year round gym rat football players that need to be shooed away from the facilities and not entitled pros that think February through July is their time.

Understanding that I know only what I have read in the last 18 hours, it seems a bit hypocritical for the team to let players cruise as recently as 2007, specifically Sean Taylor, Shawn Springs, Clinton Portis, Brandon Lloyd and Santana Moss, then suddenly decide Jason cannot be a part of this team because he is not willing to train here in the offseason.

My theory? Both parties were unhappy and not communicating all that well and this was the thing that the team could use to get rid of Jason.

Think about it, if Jason gets twelve sacks in 2008 no one gives a shit where he trains. Even if you say you are worried about his injuries and Jason rehabbing from them, look at his career. He has taken excellent care of his body over his whole career and as a football fan I have no reason to question his training regimen.

This smells like the team ginning up a bullshit excuse to bury a mistake.

Jim Zorn and Jason Taylor from Jason's introductory press conference in July: Getty Images from here.