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Thursday, April 30: Redskins Glamour Shots

Posted by Matt Terl on April 30, 2009 – 12:12 pm

Minicamp starts tomorrow, which means that there are a lot of players in the building today, greeting each other and teasing one another for how big (or small) they’ve gotten over the last three months and all that sort of first-day-of-school stuff.

There’s no football work today, but — like the first day of a new semester in college, when you do nothing but review the syllabus for each class, or the first day on a new job where you just learn where the copier and coffee machine are — there’s plenty of administrative stuff to get squared away. In fact, there’s enough of that to make today feel like the official start of the 2009 preseason. Read more »

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The Return (Again) Of Marcus Mason

Posted by Matt Terl on April 28, 2009 – 5:28 pm

So let’s see:

  • 90 degree heat? Check.
  • An expected onslaught of media? Check.
  • Fans becoming infatuated with players who will probably never contribute in the regular season? Check.
  • Running back Marcus Mason in a Redskins uniform? As of today, check.

Yep, it’s beginning to feel a lot like training camp around Redskins Park.

The Redskins were awarded Mason off waivers today, providing some depth at the running back position as we head into this weekend’s minicamp.

Mason, a local product from Potomac, Maryland, has always been a fan-favorite story and was something of a preseason star last year, toting the ball 66 times for an NFL-leading 317 yards. Not quite enough to inspire Colt Brennan levels of fan devotion, but certainly respectable, and I still field at least one question every week about why he’s not here.

For the moment, at least, those questions can be put to bed.

And as Mason returns (again), it seems an appropriate time to look back at an excellent 2007 profile of him in — of all places — the Potomac Almanac, the free newspaper that gave me my first job (delivery boy!) twenty years ago. Fittingly entitled “The Return of a King”, it recounts Mason’s rise from Montgomery County superstar to college star, and eventually to an undrafted role as a Washington Redskin. An excerpt: Read more »

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Wednesday, April 8: Another Linebacker Enters The Discussion

Posted by Matt Terl on April 8, 2009 – 12:24 pm

After the news last week that the Redskins would be looking at DE Chris Wilson as a potential solution at strongside linebaker alongside incumbents H.B. Blades and Alfred Fincher, the team announced today that they had signed free agent linebacker Robert Thomas into the mix.

What Thomas brings to the position battle is experience. Unlike Wilson, who would be moved from another position; Blades, who is entering just his third season; and Fincher, who has thus far been a journeyman and special teams standout, Thomas has eight years in the league and was a first-round selection of the St. Louis Rams.

Admittedly, his statistics from last season don’t seem too promising — just one tackle in only two games played — but here’s one small fact about them that offers some hope: Read more »

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Greg Blache Talks Winning, Frogs, and Strongside Linebackers

Posted by Matt Terl on April 1, 2009 – 5:05 pm

Redskins defensive coordinator spoke to a group of students at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia, today — yes, that’s the school from Remember The Titans, and Blache remembered recruiting players from there back when he was a college coach — as part of the Redskins’ partnership with the National Guard.

The speech focused on leadership, teaching, and other positive messages; Gary Fitzgerald has done an excellent job covering it over on Redskins.com, and I recommend his article. For my part, I was mainly interested in any of Coach Blache’s characteristically unusual turns of phrase, and on that score, I was a little disappointed.

Blache stayed on-message the entire time — “Coaching is teaching,” he said, “My specialty is teaching. My guys have their test on national TV every Sunday” — and largely delivered that message without entertaining stories about hunting and what-not. Mostly. Except for the story he said he tells his players about how dealing with criticism is like a frog climbing a water tower.

I’m paraphrasing, but essentially the story dealt with a whole bunch of “little green frogs clinging to a water tower.” As they all tried to climb up, people at the bottom shouted how they couldn’t possibly make it up — and sure enough, one by one they fell off. Except for one frog who finally made it up, and when the people asked how he had pulled that off, didn’t give any answer.

“The only frog to make it to the top was deaf,” Blache said. “He couldn’t hear all of the people telling him he could not do it. Sometimes who you’re around, your friends, you have to be deaf. So many people try to pull you down because they don’t believe in you or they’re afraid of success.”

It’s no “south end of a northbound skunk,” but it was a nice little story, and the Blachiest element of his (very good) talk.

Even more interesting, though, was the Redskins personnel news that came out in the post-speech Q&A. Read more »

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Monday, March 23: Paintball With Rocky McIntosh

Posted by Matt Terl on March 23, 2009 – 1:40 pm

When Rocky McIntosh invited me to go paintballing with him and his friends on Saturday, a few thoughts went through my mind.

First, I wondered how good an idea this was. There’s a brief history of Redskins and paintball, and between Redskins players being badly outnumbered in a charity tournament and the team’s 2007 first round pick missing minicamp with a paintball injury to the groin, not much of it can be considered very good.

Second, I found myself wondering exactly why Rocky McIntosh — who has become a regular on this blog for his holiday antics, his office antics, and his refusal to give Intern Bridgette a straight answer to basic interview questions– was described to me as a non-talker. Really.

When I first started working here, different people would offer advice for what to expect from the various players and coaches. Not much of that advice was consistent from one person to the next, but the one thing everyone agreed on was that McIntosh was a quiet guy who really kept to himself. This opinion seemed to be borne out when McIntosh went so far as to disguise himself as Khary Campbell in an attempt to avoid the media, so this outgoing version of Rocky McIntosh is continually surprising.

And third, I wondered what I was supposed to do with the 25 pound weight vest he had handed me.

What I did NOT wonder, although as it turns out I maybe should have, were who his friends were. If you had asked me at the time, I’d have said that I assumed it was Rocky’s peers — presumably not other players, otherwise he would’ve mentioned it, but friends of about his age, background, and so on.

I can safely say that I wouldn’t have come up with the actual answer: Read more »

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Renaldo Wynn Agrees To Terms

Posted by Matt Terl on March 17, 2009 – 10:12 am

He hasn’t signed the contract yet, but former Redskins DE Renaldo Wynn has definitely agreed to terms with the team, and is expected to officially sign sometime soon.

Wynn, not unlike fellow returnee Derrick Dockery, is someone that everyone here speaks highly of. People still talk about his car show (as in the video above), his restaurant reviews, his leadership abilities, and his ties to Northern Virginia and the Loudoun County area — all of which are on display in this terrific Washington Post profile from 2007.

Wynn said his blue-collar upbringing has made him appreciate the wealth that playing in the NFL has brought him. That translates into charity work in Northern Virginia.

“My main thing is to try to give back to the community and help families,” he said. “Last year my wife and I came up with the idea for Adopt a Child. We bus in children less fortunate than we are, bus in whole families, actually, and give each child $100 gift cards for Target to buy whatever they want for Christmas. We give the parents $100, too, because we want to make sure the kids get what they want instead of buying something for their parents.” He said last year he and his wife gave gift cards to about 200 people and that about 15 other Redskins came out to Target the day of the shopping spree to help the children pick out the gifts.

“The players loved it,” he said.

Read more »

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Thursday, March 12: The IRS Considers Me A Jock

Posted by Matt Terl on March 12, 2009 – 12:34 pm

I’ve been known to misplace my W-2 forms from time to time. It’s actually not as big a deal as it sounds like — you just call your employer, tell them that you need a replacement W-2, and voila. New tax information shows up in the mail.

But for a long time, that’s what the weeks between the start of the year and April 15 consisted of for me: losing and replacing tax documents, and eventually scrambling to file ahead of the deadline. So when five separate W-2 envelopes hit my desk a few weeks back, I figured that someone in payroll had just correctly guessed in advance that I was the sort of person who would wind up requesting replacement docs.


The five envelopes in fact contained something like ten separate W-2s — one for each state we traveled to for a game, with the exception of Washington state and Texas (which don’t have a state income tax).

This took me by surprise, first because I had never heard of the Jock Tax, and second because it would never have occurred to me that something called the Jock Anything would apply to me.

The so-called Jock Tax is, in essence, a tax assessed by a state to which someone has traveled to conduct business. So since I worked a game in Philadelphia, I have to file a tax return with the state of Pennsylvania for that day’s work. Read more »

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Friday, March 6: Where The Offseason Stands

Posted by Matt Terl on March 6, 2009 – 12:32 pm

It’s looking like a quiet day at Redskins Park, a fairly dramatic change from the one-hour-of-sleep, round-the-clock activities of a week ago. So it seems like a good time to take a quick look at where we stand at this point in the offseason: who’s here, who’s gone, what needs have been met and so on.

Who’s Here

Well, not “literally here at this very moment”, or else the only answer would be Lorenzo Alexander, who was working out downstairs. The team has added:

  • Albert Haynesworth, defensive tackle
  • DeAngelo Hall, cornerback
  • Derrick Dockery, guard
  • Dirk Johnson, punter

The only other visit I’m aware of is Ray Willis, offensive tackle from Seattle, but to the best of my knowledge he left without a deal.

Who’s Caught On Elsewhere

The guys who are no longer with the team, and will definitely not be with the team next year because they have deals in place at other clubs.

  • Demetric Evans, defensive end, with the 49ers
  • Shawn Springs, cornerback, with the Patriots

The indomitable Homer McFanboy has a terrific farewell interview with Evans that’s well worth reading. Read more »

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Rocky McIntosh Is Quirky, Business-Savvy, And A Good Student

Posted by Matt Terl on March 5, 2009 – 3:53 pm

A couple of weeks ago, Rocky McIntosh set up shop a cubicle not far from where I sit in Redskins Park. This wasn’t like when Antwaan Randle El made a couple of phone calls from the front desk and I joked that he was the receptionist; Rocky actually moved himself into the cube and decided it was his new office space.

There was no discernible reason for him to do this; he just showed up (wearing a red shirt, with matching glasses and watch), complained about how dirty the previous occupant had left the space, and put up some personal decorations. Read more »

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Two Press Conferences Tomorrow

Posted by Matt Terl on March 2, 2009 – 10:58 am

The press conferences for DeAngelo Hall and Derrick Dockery will be held tomorrow, Tuesday, at 5:00 in the evening.

This seems like a sensible move. It’s a snowy day here and the roads are something of a mess; it’s probably best not to ask the entire media throng — not to mention the players — to make their way through that.

But for those of you who have been eagerly anticipating these pressers since Friday … well, just a little bit longer now. Hang in there. Read more »

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