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Vonnie Holliday Is Slightly More Philanthropic Than Denzel Washington

Posted by Matt Terl on December 31, 2010 – 3:05 pm

It seems that Lorenzo Alexander and Carlos Rogers aren’t the only people receiving off-the-field awards as the 2010 season winds down. Defensive lineman Vonnie Holliday was also honored yesterday as one of the Top 10 Black Celebrity Philanthropists of 2010 according to Blackgivesback.com.

Holliday lost his sister-in-law to brain cancer in 2008, and since then has made a priority of raising awareness of this disease; in 2010, this included a fund-raiser with Saks Fifth Avenue that raised over $10,000 to benefit a a fund Holliday established in his sister-in-law’s name.

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Happy New Year From Hail!

Posted by Matt Terl on December 31, 2010 – 8:32 am

To wrap up the year AND the season, Hail! writer/artist Ben Ceccarelli returns to the theme of the first game of the season: Brian Orakpo being held. Which is fine by me — I’m a sucker for that kind of full circle stuff.

As always, click the first panel or the Read More link to see the rest of the strip.

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(Presumably) The Last Albert Haynesworth Mention Of The 2010 Season

Posted by Matt Terl on December 30, 2010 – 3:57 pm

There wasn’t a whole lot to enjoy about The Great Albert Haynesworth Saga of 2010, but I will say this for it: it helped to make sure there was always something to write about. Days that might otherwise have been slow or uninteresting were instead filled with conditioning tests, discussions of the 3-4 defense, and a myriad of other dramas.

That sort of thing slowed after Haynesworth was suspended for the final four games of the season (although The Great Donovan McNabb/Rex Grossman Saga more than picked up the slack), and in some small way it was almost nice to hear defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and head coach Mike Shanahan field a couple of Haynesworth questions during their press conferences today — like finding a nice souvenir from a trip you didn’t really enjoy.

Haslett was first, and he actually sounded a little bit pleased at the idea of talking to Haynesworth again. “I’d like to,” Haslett said. “I don’t wanna talk to him now because of the season, the grievance, all that stuff, but at some point I’d like to talk to him. He reached out. He asked — probably three weeks, four weeks ago, he told Vonnie [Holliday] to call me, and I told him I’m not gonna call him until this is all over with.”

When head coach Mike Shanahan was available, the Washington Post’s Rick Maese pointed out that Haynesworth’s suspension comes to an end after Sunday’s game and asked if Haynesworth would be attending any sort of team meeting on Monday.

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Awards Season At Redskins Park

Posted by Matt Terl on December 30, 2010 – 12:14 pm

In the NFL, the big individual honor is a berth in the Pro Bowl; those were announced a couple of days ago, and the one Redskins player who’s definitely going already knows it. The big team honor, of course, is a division title, and the Redskins were eliminated from contention for that weeks ago.

Which is not to say that there are no honors left to be bestowed here. In fact, two separate awards were handed out today.

First up: Lorenzo Alexander was selected as the Redskins’ Walter Payton NFL Man Of The Year. Every team names one; three finalists are invited to the Super Bowl, and one of them is named as the overall winner. The award honors off-the-field-community service as well as on-field excellence; London Fletcher was the Redskins’ recipient last year and became one of the three finalists.

If you just search for Lorenzo Alexander on this blog, it immediately becomes clear how much he deserves this award. The titles of the posts more or less alternate between “Alexander does something nice in the community” and “Alexander levels some guy on special teams and is praised by the coaches.”

The other award is a bit less august but no less serious: the annual Good Guy award from the local media.

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The Triumphant Return Of Doug Dutch (And The Signing Of Two Other Guys)

Posted by Matt Terl on December 30, 2010 – 9:20 am

When the Redskins traded cornerback Doug Dutch to the Ravens for current #2 quarterback John Beck, it seemed likely that we had seen the last of the D.C. native (and Gonzaga grad) as well as his impressive cheering section. But Dutch never caught on in Baltimore, and — as the Redskins find themselves thin in the defensive backfield following injuries to Carlos Rogers and every safety on the team — Dutch was signed to the practice squad yesterday. The cheering section hasn’t returned yet, but I’m sure they’ll be here if Dutch is still on the roster when training camp rolls around.

(This signing also means that John Beck was acquired for absolutely nothing. Coincidentally, that’s the same thing he’s done on the field this season. But the coaching staff seems to be pretty high on him, so I suppose you could now officially chalk up the John Beck trade as an umitigated win for the Redskins. The way this season’s gone, I’ll take whatever wins I can find.)

Dutch wasn’t the only signing, though, and he probably wasn’t the most significant either — cornerback Reggie Jones was signed from the Saints practice squad straight to the Redskins active roster.

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Clinton Portis: 'Everything In Denver Was Coach Shanahan'

Posted by Matt Terl on December 29, 2010 – 3:30 pm

Clinton Portis showed up in the locker room today, looking every bit as in-shape as he’d said he was during his Tuesday radio appearance. And, like Santana Moss, he discussed the possibility of returning next year. And, also like Moss (and pretty much everyone else), Portis expressed how much he’d like to be back in a Redskins uniform next year.

“I would love to be,” Portis said. “I think I did everything they asked. You know, I think I showed all the requirements. I think I showed that I can continue to play. I think I showed that I was actually dedicated to this program and turning this team around and I kind of flew under the radar and moved from the forefront and let everybody else do their thing and I did my work quietly. I mean, it was tough early on. It was just not getting the ball and being healthy. And then all of a sudden, once we established a running game, I was done. So, who knows, man? That’s up to them.”

That, I suppose, was the other theme that guys were putting forth: the decision rests with Mike Shanahan, Bruce Allen, and the front office.

“If they want to keep me, of course they got first option,” Portis said. “If they want to let me go, then I’m okay with that and understand the business side of this. If it’s it, I think it’ll be a bittersweet moment but I think life gotta go on.”

My favorite part of Portis’ long media session, though, came when he was asked to describe the difference between Shanahan in Denver and Shanahan in D.C. Read more »

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Graham Gano Named NFC Special Teams Player Of The Week

Posted by Matt Terl on December 29, 2010 – 1:36 pm

As we approach the end of an up-and-down season in which fans have regularly questioned Graham Gano‘s job security and head coach Mike Shanahan has been uwavering in his support of the young kicker, Gano received a bit of pleasant news: he has been named NFC Special Teams Player Of The Week for his performance in Sunday’s game at Jacksonville.

I didn’t leave the game thinking that Gano had done anything particularly splashy — the last Redskin to receive this honor was punter Hunter Smith, and he had to throw a touchdown pass to get it — but if you review the statistics, he really did have quite the game. Read more »

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Santana Moss: 'Meant For Me To Be' A Redskin

Posted by Matt Terl on December 29, 2010 – 12:17 pm

Today’s sign that we’ve really reached the winding-down portion of the season: players who are facing free agency being asked about their futures with the team. Nearly everyone in the locker room said that they still had plenty of football left and that they hoped to play that football here. It’s what you’d hope to hear, what you’d expect to hear, and it often doesn’t actually mean all that much.

But Santana Moss‘s declaration — he’s currently slated to be a free agent after this season — was particularly heartfelt. Read more »

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On Rooting For Draft Picks, And Other Links

Posted by Matt Terl on December 29, 2010 – 6:00 am

For the last several weeks of the season, I hosted a show on Ustream called Redskins Fan Zone. Basically, it was me moderating a panel of fans, asking them questions and generally shooting the breeze about the Redskins the way Redskins fans do. (Also, wearing dumb hats. I did a fair bit of that as well.) Anyhow, one of the questions I’ve been asking a lot is if rooting for the Redskins to improve their draft position — i.e., to lose — is acceptable. And the answer is almost always an emphatic no.

But there’s a school of thought that disagrees, as Rick Snider of the Washington Examiner demonstrated yesterday. “Even in victory the Washington Redskins lost,” Snider begins, and, yes, he’s referring to their draft status. Here’s an excerpt:

But the payoff for another crummy season was lost when they beat the Jaguars. Not that anyone is saying they should lose to improve the draft order, but the Redskins’ typical luck just saw that happen. They’re currently No. 14. Finishing 7-9 might move them to No. 16. That’s just past an immediate impact player like Brian Orakpo and probably someone like Tennessee reserve defensive end Derrick Morgan, last year’s 16th pick.

I’m not really sold on the idea that, at 14, “they’re past an impact player like Brian Orakpo”. That’s fairly peculiar on the most basic level, since Orakpo himself was the 13th overall pick (just one pick earlier). And Houston took Brian Cushing at 15, and Green Bay selected Clay Matthews at 26, both of whom are impact players – Pro Bowlers, in fact — at the same position Orakpo plays.

And all of that is just in the 2009 Draft alone. In 2010, here are a few of the first round guys taken after pick 14: Dez Bryant, Mike Iupati, and Tim Tebow — which doesn’t even mention Pro Bowlers Maurkice Pouncey and Devin McCourty.

But it’s not just me and the fans on Ustream who don’t agree with the idea that improving draft position is an inherently good thing. Here’s John Keim, also writing in the Examiner: “Yes, winning drops them lower in the draft, but picking high doesn’t guarantee success. Otherwise, the Browns and Lions would be perennial Super Bowl contenders. The key isn’t drafting high; it’s drafting smart. Just look at the New England Patriots. There’s no doubt the Redskins could use a high pick, but they also needed wins.”

Here’s Dan Daly’s lede over at TBD.com: “Maybe we shouldn’t worry so much that the Redskins’ latest win might hurt their drafting position. As the Patriots are showing, you don’t need a pile of first-round picks to be successful in the NFL. You just have to make intelligent use of the picks you have.”

And Kevin Ewoldt at Hogs Haven — a regular sparring partner of Snider’s — puts together three excellent reasons why winning is more important than improving draft position, but his most compelling argument is this graphic showing the top five players in every statistical category this year and where they were drafted. (Brief summary: they are not all, or even mostly all, taken in the top 14 spots.)

The winning — knowing how to win, learning to come together as a team, seeing young talent perform — is unquestionably more important than moving a few spots either way in the draft. If I were still hosting that Ustream show, I think I’d retire this question for good. And the stupid hats. I think I’d ditch those as well.

Other notable links…. Read more »

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DeAngelo Hall Selected To The Pro Bowl

Posted by Matt Terl on December 28, 2010 – 7:00 pm

After DeAngelo Hall had his “perfect storm” of four interceptions against the Chicago Bears back in Week 7, he received a whole slew of accolades: the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton took his jersey from the game; the NFL named him NFC Defensive Player Of The Week; the independent blog Kissing Suzy Kolber named him their Meast Of The Week; even The Onion did a humorous bit about the game.

After the piece in The Onion ran, I half-jokingly asked, ‘Once you’ve made The Onion, how much better can things get?’

Well, today I got an answer to that question, as the NFL announced that Hall has been selected to the 2011 Pro Bowl in Honolulu, Hawai’i on January 30th. Which, I think we can all agree, is even better than being in The Onion.

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