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Aug
02

It Was Only A Few Years Ago That Everything Looked So Bright...

I don’t know why, but it seems the universe is punishing me.

Well, the sports universe is.

I came to this conclusion thinking back to 2016. Virginia Tech football had a new coach in Justin Fuente and the Hokies went 10-4, including a big comeback at South Bend to beat Notre Dame, and an even bigger comeback in a bowl game against Arkansas. VT was down 24-0 at halftime and still won.

This new guy could be OK, I thought.

That same year the Washington Redskins were coming off a 9-7 year where they made the playoffs and Kirk Cousins had everybody saying “you like that?” There was a Sunday night in late November where Cousins threw for 375 yards and Washington kicked Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers all over the field.

Things were coming together for this favorite team too.

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Apr
26

Commanders Have Good Options at No. 11 in Thursday’s NFL Draft

Jameson Williams

As draft day is upon us, the Washington Commanders have an opportunity to add a high-caliber player at a position of need to their roster. There’s a lot of similarly rated talent in this year’s class, which could result in the Commanders getting impressive value at No. 11.

There are arguably many positions that Washington could afford to upgrade. There will be an opportunity to pry a wide receiver, defensive back, linebacker, or possibly even a quarterback if they choose to do so.

Given that reality, they’ll be well positioned to select the best player available between those positions, unless they’re laser-focused on addressing any one of those spots.

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Mar
01

What Are Washington Commanders' Plans Entering NFL Combine?

With so much change going on around the Washington organization, the new league year may have snuck up on a few people.

But March is a very important month on the NFL calendar, as the Combine starts today, will take place for the next week, and free agency opens on the 16th.

That means it’s time for Washington to prepare to add to its roster.

The Commanders’ roster isn’t particularly strong, but they also don’t have many glaring holes. Maybe that’s part of what made 2021 such a strange, frustrating season for Washington.

In my opinion, their biggest needs are as follows:

  1. Offensive Line

They don’t have a bad group. Charles Leno signed a three-year extension to presumably be their left tackle, and 2021 second-round selection Sam Cosmi held his own at right tackle. Even the starters on the interior were solid. However, the unit doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence, and they’ll have to somehow address the loss of Brandon Scherff (assuming he signs elsewhere).

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Sep
12

Once Again, Preseason Hype Didn't Match Season Opener

I watched my first Washington Redskins game on television when I was 8, fell in love with the team, and have never missed a season-opener since.

So losing the first game of a season is no big deal. Winning the first one isn’t either, as there were times like when Sonny Jurgensen threw 4 touchdown passes against the Bears – including a 99-yarder out his end zone to Gerry Allen – that made you think that first game portended a great season. Then you looked back in December and realized it was only a moment in time, as the team ended the season with a 5-9 record.

Heck, this team won its season-opener last year, then proceeded to lose 7 of its next 8 to the point they were nearly unwatchable. Yet despite playing like a third-rate Indoor Football League franchise at times, they got it turned around in a season where the rest of their NFC teammates did not, managing to make the playoffs despite not even having a winning record at 7-9.

So anything can happen, no matter what you do in September.

But there was something about today’s loss that was annoying. Over my 57 years as a fan of the team, I’ve watched the relationship with the pro football team in Washington go from a feeling of deep trust and I can’t live without you, to the edge of separation, divorce and a feeling of I don’t even know who you are.

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Aug
12

Tonight's The Night: Hokies To Watch During NFL Preseason

For fans hungry to watch their favorite pro football team, the preseason begins tonight for most of the NFL, and when the games begin, Virginia Tech will be well represented.

Currently, there are 25 former Virginia Tech players on NFL rosters. This year, there will be a few more guys playing significant roles than there have been recently – especially given the program’s impressive representation in the 2021 NFL Draft.

From VT To WFT

The Washington Football Team has rostered a few Hokies for the past few seasons, and although the faces have slightly changed, the WFT will still have more than its share of Virginia Tech players. Kendall Fuller remains one of their starting cornerbacks, while Logan Thomas (who recently received a three-year, $24 million extension with the team) is their top tight end (No. 82 at right).

Tim Settle will be one of their second-team defensive tackles for the third consecutive season, and Justus Reed (an undrafted rookie) has joined him this offseason as a reserve defensive lineman.

Cornerback/part-time kick returner Greg Stroman is also on Washington’s roster for the fourth year, but he is currently on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.

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NFL
Jul
27

Back In The Fall Of 2011, I Just Had A Feeling About These 2

We all, as sports fans, do it.

We watch our favorite high school and college teams and think to ourselves “that guy is going to play in the pros one day,” as if somewhere inside us is some hidden NFL GM gene that just hasn’t been given the chance to see the light of day.

Most of the time, to be honest, we’re wrong.

But I seem to recall one weekend in September of 2011, where, as my Dad would say, “even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and then.” 

It started on a warm Friday night here in Ashburn. The two local high school football powers – Stone Bridge and Broad Run – were finally playing each other for the first time. As I live one mile from Broad Run and a mile and a half from Stone Bridge, I can tell you it was an electric evening on September 23, 2011. The game was at Stone Bridge, and it’s the most packed that field has even been or ever will be.

Walls of people were on both sides of the field, people were ringed around the fence, and local media, former players, and just about anyone who was anyone in Ashburn were standing on the sidelines. So were a number of players from what was then called the Washington Redskins, including Santana Moss.

Despite the huge buildup for the game, it started off looking like a dud. Broad Run sprinted to a 24-0 lead at halftime, and it looked like the huge gathering was going to see a rout by the upstart Spartans when Broad Run took the second-half kickoff and drove down to the Stone Bridge 1, facing a third and goal.

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Jul
12

Kicking The Can Down The Road On A New Name. Again.

There are certain phrases in history people have learned to be skeptical about. Like I’ll pay you tomorrow. Or the check is in the mail.

Then there’s the one we all hear when football season is about to start: The NFL team in Washington is going to soon announce its new nickname.

That happened this weekend when team president Jason Wright – who from everything I’ve seen and heard is an extremely intelligent good and honorable man – said the team nickname would be decided by 2022. I believe he meant this and has every intention of seeing that it happens.

I just don’t believe it.

Instead, it smacks of kicking the can down the road – again – and that the team doesn’t really want to announce a new name. I said this the day the team announced it was retiring the Redskins name, and I based it on the belief Dan Snyder would like to have things both ways.

With the absence of any new name, people continue their habits of the past. In my house when the team scores a touchdown, we sing “Hail To The Redskins.” When we talk about the primary game to watch on TV on a Sunday, we talk about the “Redskins” game. The mountain of shirts, sweatshirts, jackets and other objects accumulated from over 50 years of being a fan of the team all use that name and have the previous logo all over it.

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Jun
09

Kyshoen Jarrett Finally Comes Home To Virginia Tech

Some sports reporters will tell you they are entirely objective. They will further claim they never have and never will let their personal feelings about a player, coach, executive or team get in the way of how they cover their beat.

They’re wrong.

The truth is writers and reporters are human too. We have emotions. We make mistakes. Sometimes, we let our personal opinions dictate an angle that we take on a story. Occasionally, that’s in a negative light.

But ever so often, it’s just the opposite.

My junior year at Virginia Tech was a lot of fun, as I served as the opinions editor, sports editor and managing editor of the Collegiate Times at different points in the school year. I also got to cover Virginia Tech football that season, attending the games as a writer and reporter.

As the 2014 season came to a close, I started putting together a piece on Virginia Tech’s two senior safeties: Detrick Bonner and Kyshoen Jarrett. The two were great young men and I enjoyed interviewing both.

Jarrett’s interview sticks with me. He had an admirable innocence; Jarrett’s soul was honest and pure. Nothing had been given to him, yet Jarrett was still thankful that he got the opportunity in the first place. Even though football was offering him a chance to play professionally, Jarrett had already thought about how he could contribute off the field.

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May
26

In 100 Days, You Can Watch Hokies' 1st Game Against UNC

Seems like since the mask mandates in Virginia were dropped a week and a half ago, I’m finding more and more experiences closer to the normal ones I enjoyed every day before words like pandemic and COVID became mainstays of everyone’s vocabulary.

One simple pleasure always occurred around Memorial Day. While I follow all sports, I’m first and foremost a football guy. I played it as a kid, I understand it, and I look forward to football season every year. Doesn’t mean I don’t care about the Nationals, Capitals, basketball or racing, but if I can only watch one sport, football is going to be the pick.

My wife has even asked many times over our 40-year marriage how many days there were until football season, because she knows the odds of me going anywhere on a Saturday or Sunday is pretty close to zero. I’m going to be parked back in my office, where I have a setup of more television screens than any sane man would have, and I watch every game I can. Since there are snacks, Maggie the WonderBeagle joins me, usually sleeping on my lap.

So every Memorial Day, to be prepared for such a question, I pull out a spreadsheet that is designed to provide an answer. It has three columns, and you can see it in the upper right part of this post. It tracks six events that are important to me: The first NFL exhibition game (the Hall Of Fame Game), the first NFL regular-season game, the first college football game, the first Virginia Tech game and the first WFT exhibition and regular-season games.

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May
19

Things Won't Be The Same Without Ryan Kerrigan

My NFL fandom hasn't consisted of much success.

From the days I could comprehend the sport, I was a Washington Redskins fan. Everyone on my dad’s side of the family was a Redskins fan and my dad and I were the two strongest fans in the family. We would watch every game, follow the team through the offseason and when we could, we’d make the trek to Fedex Field to watch the team in person.

No, the team wasn’t very good. In fact, the Redskins made the playoffs just five times after 1994, the year I was born. I was fortunate enough to get to see one of those games in person — a 27-13 Wild Card round win vs. the Lions in 1999.

Despite all the losing — and there was a lot of it — I miss it deeply. Things just aren’t the same anymore. And when it came to light that longtime Redskin Ryan Kerrigan was signing with the Philadelphia Eagles for the 2021 season, that felt like the nail in the coffin.

Kerrigan was one of my last deep connections to the franchise. Drafted in 2011, Kerrigan became one of the most feared and reliable pass rushers in the NFL. He registered 95.5 sacks in his career in Washington and from 2011 to 2020, Kerrigan missed just four games. Before 2019, Kerrigan hadn’t missed a single game in his NFL career.

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May
16

It Wasn't Just A Good Weekend. It Was A Great Weekend.

As sports weekends go in the Nation's Capital, local teams may have just finished a rare great one.

Think about it. The Capitals won an opening-round Stanley Cup playoff game. The Wizards rallied to win and clinch an 8th-seed in the NBA playoffs. The Nationals won a series on the road. Plus the Mystics opened their season, DC United took to the pitch, and even the Washington Football Team and Hokies down in Blacksburg had an eventful last few days.

Not  bad. Not bad at all. Here are the details:

Capitals Win A Postseason Thriller

Caps fans had their hearts in their throats early when starting goaltender Vitek Vanecek left in the first quarter due to injury, leaving the game in Craig Anderson’s hands. Anderson only had two starts this season, his last win was in May of 2017, and while they said he was 39, it was just barely. He'll be 40 this week. So on top of concerns for injuries to TJ Oshie and the return of Alexander Ovechkin from injury, Caps fans had plenty to worry about.

But soon after realizing Anderson was even on the team, Caps fans realized they were seeing a calm, experienced goaltender who kept the Boston Bruins in check. Tom Wilson scored the game’s opening goal, showing he can score AND fight, then Jake DeBrusk responded – which was also the play on which Vanecek left with an injury. The call-and-respond action continued in the second period, when Brendan Dillon and Nick Ritchie traded goals, and the teams held each other scoreless throughout the rest of regulation.

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