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Test Post For Bullets

Posted by Matt Terl on November 18, 2008 – 5:05 pm

These are links.

  • Ted writes blah
  • Steve writes blah
  • Dave

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Tuesday Redskins Links – 11/11

Posted by Matt Terl on November 11, 2008 – 6:17 pm

  • So Clinton Portis mentioned on John Thompson’s radio show on ESPN980 that he has a second-degree MCL sprain, which is what prompted Coach Zorn’s 50/50 assessment yesterday. Portis held out hope of playing on Sunday night, but I was a bit unsettled to find that a second-degree MCL sprain is what knocked LaDainian Tomlinson out of the playoffs last season. Not entirely encouraging news there, to say the least.
  • Fun fact about NBC4’s Dan Hellie: he has an excellent collection of colorful ties. He also has a lively tour of Chris Cooley’s house. I caught part of it when it was on the air, but it’s online as well for those of you out-of-market folks, and — as with so much else Cooley-related — it’s an amusing way to spend some time. (Hat tip to the Sports Bog for noticing the online version.)
  • And, lastly a bit of shameless self-promotion: The Zone Blitz has, for some reason, an interview with me. So if you’re consumed by an overwhelming desire to know what books I’ve read lately, NOW IS YOUR TIME.

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Fred Smoot Likes Reading, Veterans, Loading Delivery Trucks

Posted by Matt Terl on November 11, 2008 – 3:18 pm

Fred Smoot was in the parking lot of Redskins Park today, loading a FedEx truck with sealed boxes while the uniformed FedEx driver stood by, watching nervously.


“Lift with your legs, man,” the FedEx guy said. “We can’t have you getting hurt – and it’ll cost me my job if you do.”

“I’m lifting all upper body,” Smoot said, laughing. “What I need is one of those FedEx uniforms. I could get used to this job.”

My immediate concern was that Smoot was looking for some part-time holiday work, what with the economic downturn and the Redskins recent addition to their cornerback ranks, but that turned out to be incorrect. This was simply the first part of Fred Smoot’s participation in today’s Redskins Charitable Foundation Redskins Read event – loading boxes of books to bring to Rolling Ridge Elementary School in Sterling, Virginia.

I’ve talked to Smoot about children’s books before, which led to about an hour of me Googling various possible spellings of “Buffy and Mack” and growing increasingly frustrated, so maybe I should’ve been skittish. Really, though, the idea of an event that consisted entirely of Fred Smoot reading a book to an auditorium full of kids seemed to promise a certain amount of built-in comedy. Instead, I got a surprisingly moving tribute to Veteran’s Day, so the world remains full of surprises.

Perhaps the biggest surprise, honestly, was the first Redskins introduced at the school: former Hog Raleigh McKenzie. McKenzie is currently a teaching assistant there, and expects to become a certified teacher in the near future. He spoke to the kids about the importance of their dreams, which was also much more moving than it sounds typed out like that.

Then Fred Smoot arrived, still carrying a box of books from the truck, and introduced himself to the kids. “I’m from the South, now,” he said, “so I’m going to read slow.”

Smoot initially sat on the stage alone, before looking around and inviting a huge group of kids to sit with him while he read America Is.

(Not this blog, although I would’ve paid good money to see the assembled elementary school student body respond to Smoot making such points as “When Crown Prince Abdullah glided in to land at Bush’s ranch in Texas after September 11th, he demanded that all female air traffic controllers be removed from their posts.” And also not this “flash photographic essay on key American values,” although that might’ve been interesting as well.)

This was a straightforward children’s book (“an unabashedly patriotic picture book,” says Publishers Weekly), and the sort of thing that seems hokey and forgettable under most circumstances. But watching a whole roomful of kids hang on Smoot’s every word, after reciting the loudest Pledge of Allegiance I’ve ever heard (“I could hear y’all down the street,” Smoot said) and being educated on the history and meaning of Veteran’s Day … at the very least, it was more than the mildly amusing bloggable event I was expecting.

Unsurprisingly, Smoot had an excellent rapport with the elementary school kids, which was highlighted when he took their questions. It was mostly real hard-hitting interrogation like “What’s your name?” and “What’s your favorite color?” but even the Q&A had its touching moment. A boy in a 21 jersey asked, “Were you sad when Sean Taylor died?” and Smoot said, “I was sad, and it’s good to see you wearing his jersey.”

After the questions and answers wrapped, Smoot went outside to unload the truck and deliver the books to the kids.


(Yes, the first kid in line was wearing a Gus Frerotte Redskins jersey, which is awesome. I suspect that whoever that jersey was originally purchased for is at happy hour in some college somewhere, which just makes it even more awesome.)

So I was pleasantly surprised to find myself commemorating Veteran’s Day properly, not just being mildly amused at the reading of a children’s book. I’m still disappointed that I haven’t gotten to hear Smoot actually read any of the Buffy & Mack stories, though. Something to look forward to.

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Tuesday, November 11: It's Washington Week!

Posted by Matt Terl on November 11, 2008 – 10:07 am

It seems like every time the Redskins and Cowboys square off, there’s another round of articles and blog posts trying to figure out if the Skins/Boys rivalry is still alive and relevant. There’s been something of trend recently claiming that the Redskins (or at least their fans) take the rivalry vastly more seriously than the Cowboys (and their fans) do, sort of a professional football version of the “Not our rivals!” chant that Maryland gets from Duke in college hoops.

Earlier this season, in fact, Dan Steinberg of the DC Sports Bog made a fairly compelling Google-based argument on that very point:

See, if you Google Redskins and “We Want Dallas,” you get more than 2,000 returns. If you Google Cowboys and “We Want Washington,” you get 60, and none are about fans chanting. The top return for a “Dallas Week” search is that Washington Post story about the Cowboys, although you also come up with stories about Eagles fans looking forward to Dallas Week. The top return for “Washington Week?” A link to Gwen Ifill’s Web site.


Over at the Sportatorium, The Official Sports Blog of the Dallas Observer, Richie Whitt is taking something of a different approach this time around. (Link warning: The picture on that post a) contains strong language, and b) makes Redskins fans look no better than Philly fans. Just so you’re prepared. Anyhow, on with the quote.)

But this week, with Sunday’s game in D.C. much more crucial to the Cowboys than the Redskins, let’s make a proclamation: “Washington Week.”

If the Cowboys – with Tony Romo and Felix Jones and Kyle Kosier and Terence Newman returning from injury – are who we think they are, they’ll win this game. Sitting at 5-4 and needing to go at least 5-2 in their final seven games to sneak into the playoffs, dare I say this is even do-or-die?

That’s exactly what I’m saying.

Well, then. I suppose we can lay that one officially to rest, then.

Whitt then goes on to count down his ten most memorable Redskins-Cowboys tilts, and it’s a bit strange to see how many of them remain the same no matter which team you root for. The Mark Brunell/Santana Moss Monday Night Miracle is there, as is the Sean Taylor Blocked Field Goal Return. (Sadly, in recounting the one game that could conceivably immortalize Nick Novak, Whitt consistently calls him Jeff. Presumably he’s thinking of the old offensive lineman, although it’s conceivable that he’s a big fan of fashion photography.)

I’d probably lose his number 3 choice, the overtime season opener from 1999 that ended on an Aikman to Ismail touchdown, and replace it with my beloved NFC Championship game before Super Bowl XVII, and I’d definitely reshuffle the order a bit. But when fans of both teams can acknowledge the greatness of more than ten games regardless of if their team one … that seems to me to be as good a definition of rivalry as any, really.

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A Bit More From Zorn Today

Posted by Matt Terl on November 10, 2008 – 4:01 pm

A few more quotes from Coach Zorn’s postgame chat with the press, including a bit of a not-too-heartening elaboration on Clinton Portis.


On Portis:
“We’ll just have to wait and see. It’s something that’s just starting to develop.” He estimated that his chances of practicing this week were 50-50, and he uttered words that should terrify people who count on Clinton Portis in their fantasy leagues: “community position,” which is, of course, Zornspeak for “running back by committee.”

On the progress of Ladell Betts:
“We’re going to inject him into some parts of practice this week, see how he does.”

On what he saw coming back from the bye week:
“I saw everybody paying attention. I think we set new challenges for the last two quarters of this football season. It was good for everybody to have a break. I think the coaches as well as the players have a good outlook on what we’ve got going starting today.”

On last night’s Giants/Eagles game:
“It was tough to know who to root for in that. Now we’re going to need a little help to reach one of our goals.” This made me happy, because my wife last night asked who we were rooting for, and it led to me pontificating on my answer for twenty minutes. It’s good to know that, while my wife will never have those twenty minutes back, even Coach Zorn didn’t have a snappy answer for that question.

On biking with President Bush again over the bye:
“He rode me into the ground. He’s in tremendous shape, he’s a competitor, and when he has a chance to play hard, he plays hard.”

Someone – I think Joe White of the AP – asked if Zorn would be playing basketball with Obama, and Zorn laughed. “We’d have to play HORSE,” he said. He did own up to stealing some of Obama’s lines in offensive team meetings, lines about “Change” and “Yes we can,” and more that Sherman Smith is using, but hurried to add “That office is so different from what we’re doing. We should not compare the two; we’re playing for very different stakes.”

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On the Field for Practice – 11/10

Posted by Matt Terl on November 10, 2008 – 1:57 pm

Hm. I’m beginning to suspect that Reed Doughty wasn’t entirely truthful with me earlier today, as Hall was already wearing a 23 jersey out at practice today. Anyhow, a short practice on a blustery day, to get the rust from the bye week shaken loose before tomorrow’s regularly scheduled off-day.


  • Addressing the obvious first: yes, DeAngelo Hall was out at practice, and yes, he looked good at cornerback, even pulling down an interception against Jason Campbell. And his supposed locker-room-cancerhood, the disruption of the fragile team chemistry, that didn’t show up yet either. He and Carlos Rogers were chatting and laughing on the sidelines, and he looked, on the whole, like a solid addition.
  • Coach Zorn spoke about the acquisition after practice, pretty much as you’d expect, “We’re excited about the opportunity of another good football player” and so on, making special mention of the importance of depth at the position. “We’ve had Fred get banged up a little, Carlos get banged up a little, and then Shawn…. We can’t play all four of them at the same time, but the mix is going to be good.”
  • Also as you’d expect, he was asked if Hall would be helping out on punt returns, and the answer seems likely to disappoint a few people: “Right now it’ll be much like Santana,” Zorn said, meaning potential spot duty in crucial situations.
  • Zorn also talked about the decision to cut Leigh Torrence, and had only kind words for the departed cornerback. “He’s a tremendous person, and it was a very tough decision,” he said. “It’s no easy choice, especially in the middle of the season.” He also emphasized that it wasn’t that Torrence was the 53rd man on the roster and an automatic scratch or anything like that. (The discussion was prompted by a question of how Torrence “drew the short straw,” and Zorn answered, straightfaced, “Oh, we didn’t make them choose straws.”)
  • Jason Taylor was back at practice today, “All the swelling out of [his] leg and his wound healed,” according to Coach Zorn. I noticed him practicing his footwork on the sidelines, and it’s remarkable –and good to see – how quick his feet are when he’s healthy.


  • Malcolm Kelly was also back at practice, another good sight to see. “We hope to get him in full gear and practice him on Wednesday,” Zorn said. “We’re going to let him fully participate in everything this week.” So there’s some hope that Kelly will at last become the contributor we’d all hoped to see when he was drafted.
  • Of course, there’s also the chance that he won’t. “I’m hoping that Sunday morning, I’ll have a difficult decision at the wide receiver position,” Zorn said, “because I’ve got too many.” So it’s possible that even a healthy Malcolm Kelly would be a scratch from Sunday night’s game.
  • Carlos Rogers had a strong practice, breaking up (but not intercepting) a couple of passes. Whether this has anything to do with some perceived increased competition at his position or just being rested off the bye, I don’t know, but he seemed ready to go today.
  • The rest of the injury report:
    • Santana Moss is “coming right along,” and is expected to play.
    • Ladell Betts is expected to be in pads on Wednesday, and could be ready to play.
    • Which might be crucial, because Clinton Portis is dealing with a knee sprain, wasn’t at practice today, and is day-to-day.
    • Marcus Washington didn’t practice with a shoulder sprain.
    • Anthony Montgomery is day-to-day with an Achilles, but is “doubtful as far as practice goes this week.”
    • Shawn Springs will be back at practice Wednesday or Thursday.
    • And Todd Collins missed practice after a severe sinus infection ruptured his ear drum in Boston over the bye week, and he was told not to fly back to Ashburn. He’s driving back, and is expected to practice Wednesday.


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Look! It's DeAngelo Hall!

Posted by Matt Terl on November 10, 2008 – 11:55 am

DeAngelo Hall made his Redskins debut today, talking to the media from the interview stairs. It was exactly the sort of small, well-contained group that usually accompanies a bottom-of-the-roster move like the cutting and signing of a third (or fourth) cornerback. Here’s the view from the landing looking down the steps behind Hall.


Hall was, as you’d expect, full of praise for his new team. He claimed that all the teams expressed some level of interest in him, but “I just kind of feel in my gut that this is the place for me.” He acknowledged that he had only signed a short-term deal, but clearly hopes that it will lead to a longer tenure here.

Fred Smoot shrugged off concerns about there being too much depth at the cornerback position. “The first time I walked into a meeting room,” he said, “it was me, Deion Sanders, Darrell Green, and Champ Bailey. So I’ve seen worse.”

Hall has initially been issued number 32, but there are persistent reports the he and Reed Doughty will be working something out for number 23. (Doughty, for what it’s worth, told me that “I haven’t even spoken to him.”) If a deal gets done, it would be the second time THIS season that Doughty would’ve turned some kind of a profit by selling his number to an incoming ex-Pro Bowler signed as a backup. That’s a niche market if I’ve ever seen one, but if you want someone to pick lottery numbers for you, you could probably do a whole lot worse.

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Monday, November 10: Trying to Avoid a Repeat of the Steelers Fan Thing

Posted by Matt Terl on November 10, 2008 – 10:08 am


Now that it’s a week after the fact, I didn’t feel like there was much left to the whole OMG STEELER’S FANS!!!111!!! thing from last Monday’s game. I mean, sure, I thought it was the main storyline of the game even while the outcome was still in doubt. But plenty was written about it afterward, and I felt like most angles had been pretty well covered. Heck, Chris Louis over at RedskinsHeads even wrote a song about it.

The picture above is from pregame in Dallas, but based on the numbers the Ahern Inquirer found last Tuesday, it might well be a preview of Sunday at FedExField. Here’s what they found when they searched the popular online ticket brokers to find out how many tickets are available for the Dallas game.

Craigslist DC (active only): 290 pairs.
Stubhub (active only): 1498 pairs.
TicketsNow.com (active only): 501 pairs.
GreatSeats.com (active only): 523 pairs.

That was last week. Rich Tandler ran some similar numbers today, and the results are not particularly encouraging there, either. His results?

It’s not unreasonable to think that there will be 10,000 silver and blue clad fans in the seats on Sunday night in what is shaping up to be the biggest game of the year for the Redskins.

The problem is, in the angry message board threads about how disappointing the crowd was last Monday night, there are an awful lot of sentiments like this one:

I can’t believe so many people would sell their tickets to the opposing fans. I’m a Redskin fan damnit, give me your tickets.

It’s that “give” that presents the problem. The tickets are out there, but people who have already paid for them are understandably reticent to just give them up for free, regardless of what the result looks like on national TV. (And, no, the team does not receive a cut of StubHub individual ticket sales.)

So the opportunity is out there for people who can afford it to attend this week’s enormous NFC East showdown. The only question is what team those people will be rooting for. I really, really hope I’m not taking pictures of cowboy hats Sunday night.

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