Washington Redskins

The Washington Redskins, as we know them, may not exist for much longer. The campaign to force Washingon's football team to change its name may finally be gaining some steam. Native Americans took a big swing at the NFL by airing a 60-second commercial during game three of the NBA Finals in seven major cities across America.

The video, which aired in the DC area, was produced by the National Congress of American Indians. The commercials powerful message ended with “Native Americans call themselves many things, the one thing they don’t …” followed by silence and an image of the Washington Redskins logo. If this has not caught the attention of the NFL brass and specifically Redskins owner Dan Snyder, it's hard to imagine what will.

The Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation in California said it paid a “significant amount” to put the commercial in primetime. The chairman brought up the notion that sports is already prone to an excessive amount of racism. His plan is to use this Redskins change as an example to reduce racism across all sports.

The Redskins name is clearly viewed as a racial slur by Native Americans and it is time Dan Snyder take notice of the increasing popularity of the “Change the Mascot” campaign. Snyder has repeatedly expressed that he will never change the name because it acts as a badge of honor that has been ingrained in the team's history for over 80 years. Snyder went as far as to hire lobbying firm, McGuireWoods Consulting, to help defend his stance.

At this point, Snyder and company need all the help they can get. Recently, Senate majority leader Harry Reid is leading a group of senators to push the franchise to change the name. The politicians sent a letter to Dan Snyder and also said the NFL needs to stop ignoring the name which is such a blatant racial slur toward American Indians. The outside pressure will eventually force Dan Snyder to make a difficult, but necessary, change to the prestigious franchise, and it may happen very soon. 

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones watched his team fall to Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins twice last season, but never before had Jones been a part of a three-game losing streak to the Cowboys’ NFC East rival.

Jones’ Cowboys avoided that on his 71st birthday Sunday night, defeating the Redskins 31-16 at AT&T Stadium.

After quarterback Tony Romo threw for a whopping 506 yards in a heartbreaking 51-48 loss to the Denver Broncos last week, Romo had just 170 yards through the air against the Redskins. Moreover, running back DeMarco Murray left the game with a sprained left knee, and to make matters worse, defensive end DeMarcus Ware exited early with a right quad injury.

Wait a minute.

The Cowboys won with Romo throwing for just 170 yards and with no Ware or Murray? How did that happen?

Cue Dwayne Harris, who may get a slice of his owner’s birthday cake.

Harris had 222 total return yards, including an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown and a 90-yard kickoff return that set up a Terrance Williams touchdown reception.

Give credit to the Cowboys’ defense as well, something that couldn’t have been done the first five weeks of the season. Although the defense gave up 433 yards to the Redskins, they only gave up one touchdown. Cornerback Brandon Carr was everywhere in the secondary, and defensive end Kyle Wilber came up with a huge play by forcing and recovering a fumble on an RGIII sack, which ultimately led to a game-clinching score for the Cowboys.

With Murray out, rookie running back Joseph Randle saw the majority of the snaps, gaining 17 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. If Murray is out for an extended period of time, it will be interesting to see what the Cowboys can get out of Randle.

Despite losing two key players, the Cowboys picked up a much-needed win Sunday night to improve to 3-3 and stay tied with the Eagles for first place in the NFC East. Dallas did what it was supposed to do by defeating a struggling Redskins team at home, so fans should be content.

After all, normally when the Cowboys are supposed to do something, they find a way to screw it up.

Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, otherwise known as the red-headed robot, is notorious for preaching the need for his football team to play well in all three phases of the game. Dallas accomplished this against Washington.

Dallas will need that consistent play to continue this Sunday when they take on Philadelphia in a battle for first place.

Last week I circled both the Washington Redskins-Oakland Raiders and the Buffalo Bills-Baltimore Ravens games as the two to watch if you were interested in following some former Longhorn greats. Both of these contests lived up to the hype I put on them in my blog last Friday. Contrary to my predictions, the Redskins earned their first victory of the season, while the Bills upset the Ravens at home. Here’s a look at how some key former Longhorns performed for both teams, and other standout Texas performances from the week.

Brian Orakpo (Redskins defensive end)

I guess Orakpo heard me loud and clear last week. He had to play well and set an aggressive defensive tone for his team if the Redskins wanted to pick up their first win of the season. He did just that by providing suffocating pressure on Raiders quarterback Matt Flynn. Orakpo finished the game with four tackles with two for a loss, and two sacks. He spearheaded the Redskins’ defensive attack as they would tally a whopping seven sacks in the game. Overall his defensive did a nice job of limiting the Raiders to just 298 total yards and 14 points. That’s a nice way to set up a win.

Aaron Williams (Bills defensive back)

This is Williams’ second fantastic defensive week of the season. Quarterback Joe Flacco had possibly the worst game of his career and Williams and the Bills’ defense played no small part in his embarrassing afternoon. The Ravens’ defense forced five — that’s not a typo — five interceptions and from Flacco. Williams claimed two of these picks, while also finishing with two tackles and four pass breakups. Buffalo’s defense is starting to become a stingy unit. Williams has been, and will continue to be a major factor in its success as the season progresses.

Earl Thomas (Seahawks safety)

In typical fashion, Thomas brought energy and swagger to the Seahawks’ heroic defensive efforts in what was a potential Super Bowl preview against the Houston Texans. The defining play of the game was cornerback Richard Sherman’s pick six against quarterback Matt Schaub late in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 20. Thomas contributed on defense all throughout the game prior to that play. He pitched in seven tackles and two critical pass breakups from Matt Schaub. The result: The Seahawks remained unbeaten even after one of their toughest tests of the season. Quarterback Russell Wilson and the offense played poorly and still managed to win this game. That speaks volumes about the quality of Seattle’s defense.

As always, this weekend of NFL action features a parade of former Texan Longhorn players.  For Longhorn fans there are quite a few games Sunday to keep an eye on.  Two games in particular – Washington Redskins vs. Oakland Raiders and the Baltimore Ravens vs. Buffalo Bills – will feature a nice collection of Texas players.  In addition to their appeal to Texas football fans, both of these games seem to have make-or-break implications for at least one of the teams involved.  Let’s take a look at the matchups.

Ravens at Bills

Marquise Goodwin is still out with the fractured hand he suffered in the Bills’ week-one loss to the Patriots.  Bummer.  It would have definitely been exciting to see his blazing breakaway speed matched up with the likes of defensive backs Michael Huff and Chykie Brown.  

Look for CB Aaron Williams to have another huge day against a Ravens squad, which is depleted at the receiver position.  In week two, Williams recorded a team-high 12 tackles.  This is a paramount game for the Bills – the difference between 1-3 and 2-2 in this league is greater than it appears.  This is Williams’ chance to shine again, only this time against the defending champs.  I’m taking the Ravens in a close one, as Justin Tucker wins it on a last second field goal.  

Redskins at Raiders

Since 1990, only three teams have made the playoffs after starting 0-3.  To avoid permanently crippling their season with their 0-4 start, the Redskins need some big-time defensive help for Robert Griffin III.  Enter the Texas stars:  DE Brian Orakpo, CB Cedric Griffin and LB Keenan Robinson will need to step and play effectively to keep Griffin and the offense on the field.  The defense has already surrendered 98 points in their first three games.  Offensively, the Redskins are putting up a decent amount of points but Griffin is constantly having to play catch up – thus turning himself into a one-dimensional quarterback.  The defensive effort starts with Orakpo, who has been Washington’s best individual defender over the first three weeks.

Oakland defensive tackle Lamarr Houston will be key in applying pressure to Griffin in the pocket.  In three games this year, he’s tallied two sacks and a forced fumble.  If he and the Raider defense can minimize their time on the field, Oakland is in good shape.  The last thing the Redskins’ defense needs right now is 35+ minutes on the field.  This is going to be tough contest for Washington, but I think they’ll pick up their first win.  It’s not the opponent but the wild, Oakland atmosphere that will make things difficult for the ‘Skins as they look to avoid an 0-4 start.  

Redskins: Have we become too comfortable with the name?

I find it interesting that there are some things in my life that I have accepted without much thought.

When critics spoke out at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C. against the use of the name “Redskins” for Washington’s NFL franchise, I didn’t give the argument much credibility. I closed my web page, dismissing the story as just another example of people becoming overly sensitive about something that wasn’t that big of a deal. After further thought, I have come to realize how sad it is that I had that initial thought.

I was born in 1993. By 1994 I was walking. Through the following year I began to learn words. My parents first helped me learn their names, then my older brother’s, and then my vocabulary expanded to words of high intelligence, such as “duck” or “food.” As I grew up and learned the names for the things around me, I never questioned why they were named the way they were. “Table” was just the name for the thing that held up my mashed peas. As a toddler, I didn’t care what it was called so long as the so-called “table” didn’t collapse and ruin my dinner.

The same learning process occurred as I was introduced to sports. Living in Houston, I learned our professional teams were named the Oilers, Astros, and Rockets. Again, I never really questioned why they were named those names, I just learned, recited, and accepted.

I believe this is the premise of my initial reaction to the massive outcry to change the name of the Washington Redskins. For me, they have always been the Redskins. That was the name of the football team in burgundy and gold for as long as “table” had been a table. If IKEA came out and declared that they were no longer going to sell tables and that they were coming up with a new name for the piece of material that had multiple legs and a flat surface, I would perceive them as crazy and never shop there again.

But it’s not as simple as that.

Most of the football culture of America, like me, has come to accept and become comfortable with the name Redskins. This name was not created as a general noun to identify something and its use in one word. It was a nickname given in 1933 by then co-owner George Preston Marshall, renaming his Boston team after the ethnicity of their new football coach William “Lone Star” Dietz, who claimed to be a Lakota man.

Marshall could have chosen “Indians,” or even kept “Braves”, but instead decided to use a word that described skin color. That in itself should raise some flags.

A white person could make the statement, “I wouldn’t mind if some team decided to name themselves the ‘Pale-faces’ or some other Caucasian term. But unfortunately it runs even deeper than that.

The group of people that the term “Redskins” refers to, are indigenous people to this land we call America. Before 1942, the Native American population is estimated to have been roughly five million. By 1900, the population diminished to about 250,000. The immigrants, who then became ‘Americans’, drove the indigenous people out of their land by force and pushed them onto reservations that are still intact today. Let us remember that first of all.

The stereotype that comes along with the term “Redskin,” refers to the natives who were warriors, who rode bareback on horses into battle, and wore headdresses and embodied a sense of bravery. This is the Native American popular culture has presented to the current population. Previous owners of the Washington Redskins have made the statement that they were honoring Native Americans with this presentation. Many Native Americans have strongly disagreed. (link to http://espn.go.com/blog/playbook/fandom/post/_/id/18144/native-americans...) The portrayal of savagery is an unfair portrayal.

This is problem that has occurred. If there is a misportrayal of the name that has been chosen, then there are grounds for the name to be changed. As a white male, I would be offended if a team decided to call themselves the Caucasians and had a mascot running around on away games beating up opponents fans and then painting
them red, white, and blue.

That’s the point that I am making. That’s why I believe Washington will change its name in the near future. There just needs to be more awareness of the situation to bring the football culture to the realization of what the name “Redskins” really represents. The discussion at the National Museum of the American Indian began that awareness.

I understand now. But the ultimate decision will fall upon NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the Washington organization. Perhaps they will understand.

With fantasy contenders beginning to emerge in many leagues, the emphasis now is on staying competitive and not falling behind in the standings. Whether the goal is to remain in first place or climb out of last, it only takes a few key lineup modifications:

Players to start:

1) LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles are an anomaly for a number of reasons, one of them being their inability to consistently get the ball to the explosive McCoy. However, with Michael Vick struggling to hold onto the football and the Eagles facing a Lions defense that has allowed over 100 rush yards per game this season, “Shady” McCoy should have a solid week. Expect him to get plenty of touches and reach the end zone.

2) Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals
After looking practically invisible the first two weeks of the season, Fitzgerald has emerged as the fantasy stud people thought he would be, averaging just under 90 receiving yards over the past three games. With a weak Buffalo Bills defense coming up Sunday, Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb will be looking in Fitzgerald’s direction any chance he gets.

3) Alfred Morris, RB, Washington Redskins
While everyone has been talking about another Redskins rookie, Morris has quietly put together a very solid season. Morris has been the model of consistency, topping 89 yards rushing in all but one game this year, including back-to-back 100-yard games the past two weeks. Whether quarterback Robert Griffin III plays or not Sunday against the Vikings, look for the Redskins’ offense to lean on Morris.

Players to sit:

1) Nate Washington, WR, Tennessee Titans
After a big game against the Detroit Lions three weeks ago, Washington has been held in check and out of the end zone by opposing defenses. Much of this can be attributed to the absence of starting quarterback Jake Locker, who injured his shoulder against Houston in Week 4. With Matt Hasselbeck under center for the Titans and the Steelers defense coming to town, Washington cannot be considered a reliable fantasy threat.

2) Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys
After his debacle against the Bears on Monday Night Football a couple of weeks ago, can we really trust Romo again? Yes, he has had dud games like that throughout his career and has been able to bounce back from them, but this year’s Cowboys are much less explosive offensively. With a weak offensive line to protect him from the Ravens’ tenacious defense, Romo will have to improvise early and often, which will lead to some mistakes.

3) Christian Ponder, QB, Minnesota Vikings
Prior to last week, Ponder was playing mistake-free football for the Vikings. He faltered Sunday against the Dolphins, however, tossing his first two interceptions of the season. True, he is set to face a Redskins defense which has allowed big games to several quarterbacks this year. However, Washington looked better last week against the Falcons’ high-flying pass attack, and Ponder does not have the offensive weapons Matt Ryan had.

Printed on Thursday, October 11, 2012 as: McCoy a slick pick in fantasy this week

DALLAS (AP) — A former Baylor basketball player pleaded guilty Thursday to trying to extort $1 million from Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III by threatening to expose damaging information, prosecutors said.

Richard Khamir Hurd, 26, pleaded guilty to one count of interstate communication of a threat related to extortion. He faces two to three years in prison when he’s sentenced Nov. 21.

The U.S. attorney’s office said Hurd, a former walk-on basketball player at the school where Griffin won the Heisman Trophy, contacted one of Griffin’s agents in June with a demand of $1 million in order not to release information that would damage the quarterback’s reputation.

According to an FBI affidavit, Hurd first gave the agent a deadline of June 18 but extended it to give the agent time to discuss the offer with others.

Griffin’s agent contacted authorities. Under the FBI’s direction, the agent reached an agreement to pay Hurd $120,000 for the information and his signature on a non-disclosure agreement. Hurd arrived June 22 at a law office to sign the paperwork and collect the check. FBI agents arrested him afterward.

Hurd’s attorney didn’t immediately return a phone message.

Leaving court Thursday, Hurd responded to a request for comment with, “Sic ‘em, Bears,” the Waco Tribune-Herald reported.

Griffin was drafted No. 2 by the Redskins this year and signed a four-year deal for more than $21 million. He has thrown for 747 yards and four touchdowns in three games. The Redskins are 1-2.
A team spokesman declined to comment.

Former Longhorn Brian Orakpo, a two-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker, speaks to participants at his youth football camp at St. Michael’s Catholic Academy.

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

For two days this past week, two-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker and former Longhorn Brian Orakpo held what he hopes to be the first of many youth football camps in Austin.

“I was really happy that we had such a good showing for my first camp in Austin,” Orakpo said. “I plan on continuing to sponsor camps and letting it grow.”

Safely tucked away among the rolling hills at St. Michael’s Catholic Academy, just west of the city limits, Orakpo offered his time to roughly 100 kids from the ages of 7-18 eager to soak up his vast football knowledge.

While he spends his time on the defensive side of the ball in the NFL, Orakpo was still able to assist young offensive-minded players as well.

“They’re able to run drills and have a good time, and that’s what it’s all about is the kids,” Orakpo said. “It’s a great thing to put on because it allows the kids to get better through practice and work on their technique.”

After splitting players into groups by position, Orakpo and several other coaches from around the state didn’t waste any time setting the tone of the camp. Orakpo could be seen taking a literal hands-on approach with many of the defensive linemen drills while offering them advice on techniques that have helped him in his time playing football at the highest level.

But for Orakpo it’s not only about helping kids better grasp the game of football.

“At the same time I’m out there helping out, I can work with coaches and other professionals to improve myself as well,” Orakpo said.

For the kids, however, it wasn’t all about work. Orakpo took a short intermission from drills and sprints and signed autographs for everyone in attendance.

While he rested his hand in between signing footballs and posters, Orakpo took a moment to talk about the upcoming NFL season. After finishing last season with a 5-11 record, Orakpo and the Washington Redskins are looking to make a move in the NFC East and make the playoffs for the first time in five years.

“I’m excited about the future of the Redskins,” Orakpo said. “We’ve got a lot of young guys in Washington, it’s like our own youth movement.”

Part of that youth movement includes former Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III who was selected second overall in this year’s NFL Draft. Orakpo and Griffin have a bit of history playing against each other, with Orakpo and the Longhorns claiming bragging rights with a 45-21 win at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium back in 2008.

“Robert is ready for the season to start and to get out there with the rest of us,” Orakpo said.

This will be the first season that Orakpo and Griffin play on the same team, but another former Longhorn also joins the Redskins’ defensive ranks this year. Keenan Robinson was selected in the fourth round and will likely find himself backing up Orakpo.

“All the guys are ready and amped up about this year,” Orakpo said. “July 26 is when we start training camp and the entire team is ready for the new year and what it has to offer.”