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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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