December 8, 2019

Guest Post: Open letter to Gary Bettman and the NHL by a fan of the game

by Melissa Allen, Caps fan and season ticket holder, special to District Sports Page

An Open Letter to  Gary Bettman and the NHL

A lockout doesn’t just mean locking out players from a paycheck. You’re locking out the fans. You’re locking out friendships. You’re locking out hopes and dreams. You’re locking out unfinished business.

You’re locking out new opportunities. You’re locking out charities. You’re locking out unforgettable moments. You’re locking out trust. You’re locking out history (which won’t be made). You’re locking out a game in which rivals are banding together to protect. You’re locking out the players because you don’t think the current collective bargaining agreement is fair. [Read more…]

Washington Redskins Week 1 Preview: Who are the New Orleans Saints?

by Adam Vingan, Special to District Sports Page, and unapologetic Saints fan

Who Are The Saints?

Actually, the more appropriate question is “Who Dat?” Either way, the Saints are one of the NFL’s most elite teams in recent seasons; since 2009, New Orleans is 37-11 during the regular season. Oh, and don’t forget about that Super Bowl XLIV championship. They also have one of the league’s most intimidating home-field advantages. There is nothing like a Sunday in New Orleans during football season. The lack of open container laws means that the entire city is a giant tailgate party. And they start early. By game time, the Superdome is filled with 75,000 highly-energized (and intoxicated) fans ready to make some noise. From first-hand experience, I can tell you that the Superdome is deafening. Good thing Robert Griffin III and the Redskins have been preparing for that.

Their offense is pretty good, right?

Right. The Saints’ offense led the NFL in total offense (467.1 yards per game) and passing yards (334.2 yards per game). That second number can be attributed to quarterback Drew Brees, who set a NFL record with 5,476 passing yards last season to go along with 46 touchdowns and just 14 interceptions. Brees has an arsenal of offensive weapons that he can throw/hand off to, from tight end Jimmy Graham (11 receiving touchdowns) to speedy running back Darren Sproles (1,313 total yards). Don’t forget running backs Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram and Chris Ivory as well as wide receivers Marques Colston, Lance Moore and Devery Henderson. It’s a stacked team.

But that bounty thing…that should slow them down.

Well, the bounty scandal only affected players on the defensive side of the ball. The coaching staff, however, will be missing its heartbeat – head coach Sean Payton – all season long. Payton’s offensive wisdom and penchant for taking calculated risks has been a large part of the Saints’ recent resurgence, but interim head coach Joe Vitt (who will miss the first six games due to suspension), interim-to-the-interim head coach Aaron Kromer, defensive coordinator/former Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael (as well as Brees) should handle his absence without missing a step. Meanwhile, New Orleans will likely have one of their best defensive players — defensive end Will Smith — back for Sunday’s game earlier than expected. Friday, an appeals board overturned the suspensions of four players associated with the bounty scandal, Smith being one of them (he was scheduled to miss four games). RGIII’s first start just got tougher.

So what’s the key to possibly beating the Saints Sunday?

Of course, the spotlight will be on Griffin, but if the Redskins hope to win Sunday, they will need their defensive line to be on top of its game. Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan and the rest of the line will need to put pressure on Brees and force him to make rushed decisions. Brees, who releases the ball very quickly, will have a field day against the Redskins’ depleted secondary if given enough time to scan the field.

What’s your prediction?

I think RGIII will have a strong showing in his debut, but between the possible return of Smith, a lively New Orleans crowd and just the sheer dominance of the Saints’ offense, I don’t give the Redskins that much of a chance. The score will be close early before New Orleans takes over before halftime. Saints 38, Redskins 17.

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Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Nats and the Caps, and previously wrote Nats News Network and Caps News Network. Dave’s first sports hero was Bobby Dandridge. Follow Dave’s Redskins coverage on Twitter @RedskinsDSP.

Washington Redskins trade for No. 2 overall pick; Mr. Griffin comes to D.C.?

by Jack Anderson, Special to District Sports Page

A quick flashback to a year ago when the Redskins were in similar predicament to the one they’ve been in for the last 20 years. The Donovan McNabb experiment had blown up in Mike Shanahan’s face, leaving him without a quarterback as Washington headed into a draft full of them. Surely the coach would reload by selecting a Blaine Gabbert or Christian Ponder to start the franchise afresh?

But the Redskins passed on several first round quarterbacks in 2010, preferring to address other areas of need. The comfort level for that class of quarterbacks wasn’t there so Shanahan avoided taking a quarterback simply for the sake of taking one.

One year later, it appears his patience has been rewarded. [Read more…]

Time to find out if RGIII can be the Washington Redskins’ Superman

by Jack Anderson, Special to District Sports Page

It’s time.

Given his overwhelming potential and seemingly limitless ceiling, the moment is right for the Washington Redskins to take the plunge and bet the house on the man known as RGIII.

That’s only Robert Griffin’s weekday moniker though. On weekends, he’s Superman. Clark Kent jumped buildings in a single bound, but Griffin made the college gridiron his playground. Now he’s going pro and several teams are lined up ready and willing to pay a king’s ransom for the new Man of Steel in this year’s NFL draft.

There isn’t much Griffin can’t do. He is working on a Masters degree in communications, was a world-class track athlete in high school and is one of the nation’s top quarterback prospects. Yet his quiet pride and selfless nature overshadow all his accomplishments, resulting in one of the more balanced, grounded individuals you’ll ever encounter.

It just so happens that there’s more to this humble college kid than he’ll let on to.

Fittingly, Griffin wore a pair of Superman socks to the Heisman Trophy presentation. But instead of strutting onto the national stage in the presence of his fellow candidates, Griffin presented the outrageous footwear with a lightheartedness that only made him more likeable.

Of course he finished the night hardware in hand. “Unbelievably, believable,” he said of the honor.

Unbelievable – according to Griffin – because of the emotion that came with such a moment. Believable to the rest of us because he’s just that good.

It’s not easy to find such a combination of talent and squeaky-clean character, but Griffin has it all. In 2011, he completed over 72 percent of his passes and had a touchdown-interception ratio better than 6-to-1. He recently ran one of the fastest 40-times of any quarterback in history and appears poised to take the NFL by storm.

With the recognition also comes the scrutiny of endless meetings with NFL teams, media obligations, a strict workout routine and a continued sense of purpose. Many potential draftees undergo the firestorm of responsibility and how they handle it will help shape what they become.

There is little doubt Griffin will pass the gauntlet with flying colors. This is the same guy who could choose between heading to law school or quarterbacking a professional football team. Winners have that ability to turn any situation into a positive one. Griffin fits that mold and that’s why he’s already blowing the skeptics away with his top-notch attitude and off-the-chart talents.

Naturally the hype has several of the NFL’s bottom-feeders clamoring for his services. The Redskins, Browns, Dolphins and others would love to reverse the fortunes of their respective franchises with such a high-caliber player and it’s likely one of them will.

It all hinges around the St Louis Rams and the No. 2 overall selection in the NFL draft. The Rams are set at quarterback with former No. 1 selection Sam Bradford and are expected to trade their pick to the highest bidder. That team will surrender a treasure trove of assets, but in today’s NFL a franchise quarterback trumps most everything else.

Especially in Washington.

The “Redskin way” hasn’t been conducive to success in a long time. Then again it’s never really had an individual capable of putting the entire team on his back like Griffin is expected to do.

The Colts, Saints, Patriots and Packers can all attest to the importance of the quarterback position. Players have come and gone in each organization, but the same guys were under center when those teams combined for six of the last 11 Super Bowl trophies. Possessing that constant an entire locker room can depend on – you can’t put a price tag on it.

The Redskins don’t have that and haven’t for years. They’ve tried to be home run hitters and have only recently attempted to build a team piece by piece. But there isn’t always a gameplan for every scenario. Sometimes a player like Griffin comes along and forces you to call an audible.

Mike Shanahan has done a good job putting certain elements of into place, but the prevailing opinion is that he’ll never turn the Redskins around without acquiring a dynamic quarterback. Griffin is that guy, but the cost is likely to make Shanahan a little skittish.

And with good reason because Griffin can’t do it by himself. The Redskins will have to build around him, which could be difficult if they part ways with numerous draft picks to get him.

However, drafting Griffin presents one of those rare shortcuts the Redskins aren’t usually afforded. He’s pretty close to the can’t-miss label and there is nothing on his resume that would leave a team holding their breath.

Shanahan need only listen to Griffin’s Heisman speech for inspiration when it comes to rolling the dice. If there’s “no pressure,” there’s “no diamonds.” It’s a gamble, but one that could turn the tide for a team stuck in neutral.

The cost is high, the risk even higher, but the payoff promises to be worth it. It’s time to find out if Superman can withstand the Burgundy and Gold kryptonite.

Jack Anderson is a special contributor to District Sports Page. He has been covering Washington, DC sports as a credentialed reporter since 2009. He covers the Capitals for NHL Home Ice and TSN Radio and is a freelance writer having contributed to the Washington Times, Associated Press and NBC Washington. You can follow him on twitter @jackandersonIII.
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