Moving in the Wrong Direction

•March 15, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Have you ever been driving down the interstate and had a little pebble kick up and smack your windshield?  It leaves a crack that is so small you think it’s nothing to worry about, but sure enough over time that crack keeps getting bigger and bigger.  Eventually you have a crack all the way across your windshield, and your windshield is broken.

That tiny crack in the windshield was the day the NCAA decided to go from 64 to 65 teams in the beloved March Madness college basketball tournament.  That crack is slowly getting bigger and bigger, and eventually, just like the car windshield, the system will be broken.

I will watch as many seconds of the tournament as I can because I know there will be great drama, and great upsets, but it won’t be as good as it should be.  There are two major areas that need fixing, the selection process itself, and the tournament that keeps us glued to our TV sets for a month straight.

The selection process seems to have gotten so political that it almost makes no sense.  In a normal year it’s tough to pick which teams deserve an at large bid, in a bad year it’s even tougher, so I understand the job the committee does is not easy.  That being said (for you Nature Boy) there has to be a certain level of common sense involved.  Prior years have nothing to do with the selection process right?  So why is Michigan State in this thing?  Quality wins, and tough scheduling does matter right?  So why is Clemson in the field?  In fact why are there 5 teams with 15 losses in this tournament?  I could care less about Virginia Tech or Colorado basketball, but it appears in these cases common sense isn’t being used at all.  I don’t want to make it about this years field, but trust me, I can make the case in any number of ways for these two teams, and a few others, over about 5 teams in the big dance.

The bigger problem here is that we’ve added more mediocre or bad teams into a tournament that was as close to perfect as you can get.  Should Boston College or Alabama have gotten in over Georgia and VCU?  Probably, but you know what?  None of these teams should even be in the field to begin with.  When you are talking about a sport, a business, or even what type of sandwich you want for lunch, you don’t need added options that aren’t very good, you want a certain number of very good to great options.  Part of the issue here is the state of college basketball in general.  Players have been leaving after just one year of school for about a decade or so now, and the quality of play, and the  players themselves just aren’t as good as they were when we were growing up.  I love watching Jimmer Fredette play, but if Durant, Love, Westbrook, Griffin, and Wall were all still in school Fredette would be a mere blip on the radar.

The tournament kicks off tonight, a Tuesday night, with two play in games.  Explain to me how John Thompson and Bob Huggins have to prepare for two different opponents while the rest of the field has known exactly who they were playing since last Sunday evening.  It’s not like West Virginia and Georgetown were the last two teams in the tournament.  Ask a friend or colleague what channel TRU TV is, and see if they have any idea.  Watch the CBS show from the other night, and tell me that Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith sounded like they had seen any college basketball this season.  These aren’t major issues, but the pattern is developing.

There is a reason famous sayings last the test of time.  “If it ain’t broke, then don’t try to fix it”.  We didn’t need a 65th team, and we certainly don’t need 68, 94, or 120.  Things will continue to go in this direction because as we all know the NCAA is about one thing above all else, and that’s money.  I just hope that the tiny crack in the windshield doesn’t spread, and eventually break any time soon.

As far as this years tourney goes I have to add my two cents on some of the other issues I have with the selection committee.  Florida is a #2 seed.  That means the committee thought the Gators are one of the best eight teams in the country.  That’s ridiculous.  I also can’t get over Villanova being a #9 seed when it feels like they haven’t won a game in 2011.  Georgia a #10 seed?  How does the Big-10 always get so many teams in?  Too many questions and not enough answers on the selection process.

Weekend Recap

•December 19, 2010 • 1 Comment

One of my co hosts from “The Hog and the Curtain” podcast, Dave Stebbins had some thoughts on the Redskins quarterback carousel, and the  recent NBA trades, so he put his finger to the keyboard and came up with the following contribution to the Sports Daggers blog that is sweeping the country.  Enjoy.

 

There’s a lot I’ve got on my mind in response to the fallout of the last 36 hours of sports, and an overriding theme, as well.  First there was the benching of Redskins starting QB Donovan McNabb for Rex Grossman, then the (panicked?) duo of trades engineered by the Orlando Magic… and since we don’t have another podcast scheduled until Tuesday evening, I wanted to put this out there now…

First off, everyone needs to calm the <blank> down in response to this Donovan McNabb benching.  Does McNabb have the best overall QB’ing resume on this team?  Yes.  Does McNabb give the team the best chance to win week-to-week?  Sadly, yes.  Do I believe, for even a second, that Rex Grossman will EVER have a successful professional career?  To quote my favorite movie (Nobody’s Fool), “… not now.  Not ever.” … HOWEVER … as I’ve stated many times throughout my life, the ONLY question that matters in sports is, Is the team getting better on the current course of action?  And the answer is, unequivocally, NO.   The cupboard is completely bare at WR.  There is MAJOR reconstruction needed on the offensive line, special teams, the linebacking corps, and the Quarterback position.  And, overall, there isn’t a single area of the team that couldn’t use a significant overhaul.  So, with 3 games left on this years schedule, and MOST importantly, the team mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, doesn’t it make sense to play the younger players on the team extensively for the remainder of the season in order to properly evaluate your roster?  And if the team happens to lose in the process, then the tradeoff becomes “bragging rights” (of which a non-playoff team has NONE of anyway) for a better draft pick, which directly aides the team’s ability to improve itself in the offseason.  My personal opinion (and one that I would NEVER understand the opposing side of) is division titles mean nothing, unless it’s a stepping-stone towards a championship.  If you’re not building towards a Super Bowl title, then you’re wasting your time.

 

As far as the Orlando Magic’s pair of trades today, the positives begin with this… the front office of a professional team has FINALLY swallowed their pride and shown the presence of mind to realize that they were not currently constructed to win a championship.  Barring injury, plague, or Armageddon, there was NO way that the Magic were going to beat the Celtics or the Lakers in a 7-game series (and yes, the Heat are out of the equation until they prove they can beat a team with a serious inside game).  Vince Carter is just one of a long-line of professional athlete “Strippers”.  The type of athlete that looks great and makes you feel like the sky’s the limit, but would NEVER take you to the promised land (from what I’ve heard from people that frequent such places, of course).

Positive number two, they acquired a much hungrier shooting guard (Jason Richardson) and RE-acquired the orchestrator of their 2009 NBA Finals run, Hedo Turkoglu.  Now, granted Hedo has been, shall we say, less-than-stellar since he left O-town, but there may be serious “Randy Moss” parallels here (lack of interest due to lack of team success).  The prospect of being on a winning team may very well be the tonic Hedo needs to get motivated.

Now, the negative… or maybe more appropriately tagged, the head-scratcher… trading Rashard Lewis for Gilbert Arenas.  Putting aside the injuries and the gun-related issues, let’s look at the Magic roster now… their (likely) 8-man rotation looks like this-

Guards: J. Nelson, G. Arenas, J. Richardson, JJ Redick, Q Richardson

Forwards: H. Turkoglu, B. Bass

Center: D Howard

FIVE of their top 8 players are guards, and if you wish to stretch the rotation to eleven their next 3 players would likely be Jason Williams, Chris Duhon, and Earl Clark… TWO MORE guards.  What did this second trade accomplish? A salary dump?  Nope.  Filling a position of need?  Not so much.  How about more firepower in the locker room?  Sorry, couldn’t resist.  Anyway, the bottom line is this… they didn’t improve in any obvious way with this trade, and if anything, wouldn’t you want to give Rashard Lewis a chance to regain the form (and confidence) he had only so recently exhibited when he played alongside Turkoglu?  Those two players were the crux of the mismatch nightmare that helped them make the NBA Finals only two years ago.

The underlying theme to all of this… if you’re team is not progressing, you’re regressing.  There’s no worse place to be in professional sports than an average/good team that has maxed out it’s potential.

5 and 8

•December 14, 2010 • Leave a Comment

After an extremely frustrating loss last Sunday afternoon I started to think about the Redskins roster.  The good, the bad, and the ugly.  I honestly believe that from a front office standpoint the Redskins are in a better place than they have been in a long, long time.  I don’t love Shanahan or some of the things he has done, but I do think he’s a very good football coach, and until I feel otherwise I will have no problem with him guiding the ship.  After watching virtually every play this season (and most others) I’ve compiled some of my takes on the team.

Most Valuable Player-I’m not trying to be different with this, but I honestly think my vote would go to Brandon Banks.  Let’s face it, this team struggles to move the ball and get first downs.  Banks has game after game made plays on special teams to get the offense in a position to score points.  Banks helped significantly in his first game against the Eagles, and hasn’t stopped since.  Penalties have killed Banks from being nationally known as he has had countless returns brought back because of yellow laundry on the field.  Banks could have been the main reason for victories at Detroit and against Minnesota this year if not for mindless penalties on special teams.

Runner Up-Sometimes it is painful to watch Deangelo Hall on defense.  He has missed some big tackles, and he has been burned going for the big play a few times, but the fact of the matter is Hall has won one game all by himself when he tied a single game NFL record with 4 int’s against the Bears, and basically won a second game against Dallas with his defensive Touchdown on the last play of the first half.

Most Frustrating, Team-This is an easy one for me, I hate watching guys drop passes more than just about anything.  This year the Skins can’t seem to hold onto the football.  The 2 best receivers on the team, Moss and Cooley are two of the biggest culprits, and it drives me crazy.  Leading into the Titans game earlier this year the Skins were historically bad on 3rd down conversions, and dropped passes were one of the reasons why.

Runner Up, Team-This would have been the winner, but honestly I’m so tired of the whole thing I don’t even want to mention it.  Albert Haynesworth in 2010 has been a story that daytime TV would be proud of.  Enough already.

Most Frustrating, Player-You would think that this category might as well be called “The Carlos Rodgers Award”, but at this point it’s gone beyond frustration, the guy just can’t catch, and am I really going to rip on the best cover corner the team has?  This is a tough one, but the winner is, Rocky Macintosh.  I don’t know what has happened to Rocky in a season that started so well for him, but he can’t tackle or cover anymore.  I know it’s a new scheme, and it may not be his fault, but some of his whiffs would make Will Nieves proud.

Runner Up, Player-I’m giving this to Fred Davis because he should be so much better than he is, again it may not be his fault, but this guy has pro bowl talent and for some reason he rarely does anything.

High Point of the Season-When you beat the Cowboys and Eagles you know there are at least a few good moments, but I’m giving this one to the overtime victory against the Green Bay Packers.  When this game took place the Packers were favorites in the NFC, and the Skins were still providing hope.  After this game the play-offs seemed like a realistic possibility.

Runner Up-Less than one week after being flattened worse than the Wizards tonight, the Redskins put the visions of Michael Vick behind them and went into Tennessee and gutted out a victory with a depleted roster.  A proud weekend for us fans.

Low Point of the Season-The Donovan McNabb benching at Detroit.  I still don’t get this one, and I’m still mad about it.  Just ridiculous.

Runner Up-The Donovan McNabb benching at Detroit.  I still don’t get this one, and I’m still mad about it.  Just ridiculous.

I have a few more thoughts, but I’m just going to break them into two categories, things that depress me, and things that give me hope.

Things That Depress Me-Any time there is a safety on the field not named Laron Landry, Not having a #1 wide receiver (again), having yet another high first round draft pick, constant rumors that Rex Grossman is going to play in the upcoming week, the Redskins linebackers (look I really like and respect London Fletcher, and it is truely hard for me to say this, but I just don’t think he’s very good anymore, at least in a 3-4), every single offensive lineman not named Trent WIlliams, and finally the Washington Redskins losing to Detroit, St. Louis, and Tampa Bay in the same season.

Things That Give Me Hope-Trent Williams (I’d list him 5 times in a row if I thought it would help prove my point), Ryan Torain, Brian Orakpo, having yet another high first round draft pick, Bruce Allen, Lorenzo Alexander on special teams, the fact that the team still gives a strong effort every Sunday, the fact that Haynesworth is finally away from the headlines as far as the team is concerned, and Donovan McNabb.

I need to go into some detail on McNabb being in the positive section.  I’ll be the first to admit that McNabb has had some bad stretches this year, but I have watched basically every single Redskins game for close to 30 straight seasons, and I can tell you that if the starting quarterback this year was named Campbell, Collins, Brunell, Ramsey, Matthews, Wuerffel, Banks, or Graham, and trust me the list goes on, and on, and on, the Redskins would not have even the 5 wins that they do so far this season.  This is not a good offensive line, in fact it’s a pretty bad one.  These are not good wide receivers, in fact they are below average, and yet McNabb is on pace to break the single season passing yards record for the Redskins, and set his personal mark for yards in a season.  Taking these numbers, and the dropped passes into the equation I still feel good that McNabb is here.

If you just read this and are wondering how I haven’t mentioned Casey Rabach in any of my negative lists, I’ll ask that you listen to “The Hog and the Curtain” sports show, which is a weekly podcast that I am a part of.  One of my co hosts spends a fair amount of time every week sharing his “thoughts” on Rabach.  You can listen on Itunes or at http://www.hogandthecurtain.com.

5-8 is disappointing, and it’s slowly becoming more and more difficult to go through this again and again year after year, but picture AJ Green, Julio Jones, or Justin Blackmon at wide receiver or a revamped offensive line, or a competent safety next to Landry in 2011.  Also keep in mind that last year the Skins went 4-12, so if they can get to 7-9, that’s a pretty good improvement from last year.  As long as I live I’ll be saying “Hail to the Redskins”, I just hope sooner rather than later I’m saying it in late January.

A Condensed History of Super Bowl Winning Coaches

•November 19, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Less than ten games into his tenure, Mike Shanahan is already the subject of increasing scrutiny from the media and fans.  From his handling of Haynesworth, to the verbal gymnastics explaining McNabb’s benching, to the POST-BYE Eagles debacle, it hasn’t been a year one love-fest.  I don’t really know where I stand on Shanahan, his arrogance, or his orange glow, but I know one thing – I’m sick of people arguing against him using the “he never won a Super Bowl without John Elway” defense.  It’s become nothing more than a refrain, an easy-out for anybody who wants to argue against Shanahan without considering that Elway was 36 when they won, and it was his first as well.  By the way, don’t you need great players to win a Super Bowl?  You do, and that makes the Shanahan-Elway argument incredibly easy to apply to any Super Bowl winning head coach.    Just to demonstrate, here’s a history of Super Bowl winners:

Vince Lombardi never won it without Bart Starr.  Weeb Eubank only did it with Joe Namath. Hank Stram never won without Len Dawson.  Don McCafferty needed Earl Morrall AND Johnny Unitas to win one.  Tom Landry never got over the hump without Roger Staubach.  Bob Greise was under center for both of Don Shula’s Super Bowl wins, and Chuck Noll never did it without Terry Bradshaw, not to mention the Steel Curtain.  John Madden only did it with the Snake, and Tom Flores apparently couldn’t coach his way out of a paper bag without Jim Plunkett. Poor Bill Walsh was never able to prove himself without Montana or Rice, and George Seifert rode the backs of Montana AND Young AND Rice (and Walsh). Mike Ditka never won one without Buddy Ryan.  Bill Parcells won two, but neither without the greatest linebacker of all time.  Jimmy Johnson never did squat without the Triplets, so of course Barry Switzer didn’t either. Mike Holmgren hasn’t made it back to the top without Favre, Shanahan of course needed Elway, Vermeil has one ring from Kurt Warner, Brian Billick got to ride the coattails of Ray Lewis and Marvin Lewis, and Bill Belichick has as many rings as I do without Tom Brady.  John Gruden only won once and it was with Tony Dungy’s roster, while Tony Dungy could only win with Peyton Manning.  Speaking of Mannings, Eli and one incredible catch let Tom Coughlin steal a ring.  In the meantime Bill Cowher never could quite do it without Ben Roethlisberger, and Mike Tomlin hasn’t either. And most recently but not least Sean Payton went along for the ride when Drew Brees put the Saints on his back in 2009. 

In conclusion, Joe Gibbs is the greatest coach of all time.

It Happened Again

•October 6, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Last night before I fell asleep I saw something that caught my eye “Vikings and Patriots close to a deal for Randy Moss”.  Immediately I had two thoughts, this must be making Viking fans down right giddy, and Bill Belichick must be trying to get Moss motivated.  I never thought this was going to happen.  Why would New England trade a guy that makes the offense so much better, even when he isn’t catching passes?  New England is a legitimate Super Bowl contender.  I know his contract is up after the season, but don’t you have to make a run at the championship? I’ll finish my thoughts on New England in a minute, but as usual I need to tie the Redskins into this.

The trade became official at some point this afternoon, and sure enough Moss was a Viking again (I think it’s cool anytime a superstar athlete returns to where he became a star).  The thing that really got me going was when I saw the Vikings got the future Hall of Famer for, wait for it, a third round draft pick.  WHAT?  I immediately think what the Redskins biggest need at the moment is, and it just happens to be a big wide receiver.  Don’t get me wrong I know there are plenty of reasons why the Skins wouldn’t make this move.  For starters I’d be shocked if they had a third round pick, and Moss like McNabb is a free agent to be.  I don’t care.  He has an attitude issue, and he doesn’t run his routes hard every single play, I don’t care.  He’s always been considered a bit of a risk, but he’s done that to the tune of 935 receptions, 14,604 yards, and 151 touchdowns.  These numbers are staggering.  I’m 32 years old and in my lifetime you put Randy Moss behind only one other wide receiver….Jerry Rice.  Donovan McNabb is the perfect QB for a guy like Moss.  McNabb is a team leader on the field and in the locker room.  Moss was great when he had Chris Carter by his side, and I feel McNabb is that same type of presence.  The offense is totally different if you say Moss, Moss, Cooley, and Fred Davis than it is currently with Santana Moss, Armstrong or Galloway, Cooley, and Davis.

The fact of the matter is it’s not only the Redskins that you have to wonder about, it’s about 15 teams in the NFL.  Why would the Bears, Colts, Titans, Eagles, 49ers, Falcons, Seahawks, Steelers, Chargers, and Redskins not trade away a 3rd round pick for him?  I know there are reasons, but to me the risk is well worth the reward.  The reason I am fired up about this is because trades like this happen in the NFL somewhat regularly, and I’m always left shaking my head.  Anquan Boldin was traded from Arizona to Baltimore for a 3rd and a 4th round pick.  Boldin was a rookie of the year, a 3 time pro bowler, and all around stud with the football in his hands.  The Dolphins got Brandon Marshall for two second round picks.  Marshall is one of only 5 players in league history to catch 100 balls in each of his first three seasons.  I know a lot of teams that can use a top of the line, game changing wide receiver, and isn’t a few picks worth it?

Moss now joins Favre on a Vikings offense that is only a few weeks away from having Sidney Rice back.  Moss, Rice, and Harvin is a disgusting trio of receivers, and oh by the way, they happen to have the best running back in the NFL.  We’ll see how it works but I imagine a lot of teams might regret not offering a 2nd rounder for Moss.  From a personal standpoint if he blows up maybe it will encourage the Redskins to offer the 2 second rounders for Vincent Jackson that the Chargers are asking before someone else swoops in and gets him cheap.

I have to finish by at least acknowledging the Patriots side of the equation even if I don’t agree with it.  You got 3 great years out of Moss and ended up getting more for him than you gave up to get him.  You now have two picks in each of the first three rounds which is great, and he is a 33 year old soon to be free agent.  I understand it, but I’d rather try to win the Super Bowl with the best players I have on the field.  Even with a great QB and coach other good players are needed, and Moss is a great one.

Who’s Really to Blame?

•August 18, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Let me get this out of the way right off the bat.  I am a Brett Favre fan.  I want to see Favre play for as long as he possibly can.  I think football is more fun when Favre is in it.  He’s also really, really good.

Favre is a very polarizing figure in the world of sports, but why is that?  People have been calling Favre a drama queen, but is Favre really creating the drama? On the surface it’s easy to criticize Favre for his perceived multiple retirements, but let’s take a step back and really look at it.

What do you see when you turn on ESPN or NFL network?  Is it Favre speaking to reporters or reporters talking about Favre?  Remember just a week ago when the story broke that Favre was finally done playing?  Why did we think that?  Favre’s coaches and teammates said over and over again that they hadn’t heard anything from NFL’s version of the iron man.  The point I am trying to make is that while people have grown sick and tired of hearing about Brett Favre 24 hours, 7 days a week, are they tired of the quarterback who threw for 33 touchdowns to only 7 interceptions as a soon to be 41 year old, or the media that shoves it down our throats when there actually isn’t anything to report?

In my opinion Favre should only be concerned with the opinions of about 75 people.  Favre’s teammates and coaches have basically begged for the gray beard of the NFL to return, so why should anyone else care?  A few years back Michael Strahan retired, but just until the end of training camp.  Favre is not blameless in this whole situation, but when during the off season did he ever say he wasn’t going to play in 2010?  All I ever heard was “If my ankle is healthy, I’ll play”.  Did I mention he threw 33 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions last year?

What makes fans love and respect Favre is also what drives people crazy.  The guy wears his emotions on his sleeve.  I believe that when Favre first retired it was because he was a true Green Bay Packer.  After close to two decades Favre woke up one morning, and wasn’t a Green Bay Packer anymore.  He shouldn’t have announced he was done, but he made a mistake, and rushed to a gut wrenching decision.  Favre then decided the same thing that lots of guys do, he wanted to go somewhere and stick to the team that thought he was done.  This sounded great, but the problem was Green Bay wasn’t about to let him go to a team in the same division so he was traded to the New York Jets.

Do you remember what Eli Manning did when he got drafted by the San Diego Chargers?  How about John Elway when he was picked by the Baltimore Colts?  Manning and Elway did what tons of athletes do every year, they forced a trade, and ended up with a team that they were comfortable with.  What did Favre do?  He played 16 games with the New York Jets.  He played with a torn bicep on a team he didn’t fit in with in a city he never wanted to be in.

On almost this exact date last year Favre joined the team he had wanted to go to from the time he said good-bye to Green Bay.  A talented team with a coach he was familiar with in a city that allowed him to play the Packers twice a year.  My good friend, and Packer fan Hayes pointed out to me that Fran Tarkenton was very vocal about the fact that Favre didn’t join the Vikings until late August.  Tarkenton talked about how Favre owed it to his teammates and coaches to get into camp.  Fran obviously forgot that during the last 7 years of his career he played the same retirement game that Favre has for the last 3.  Tarkenton forced a trade in 1967, and that was after he had already gotten his head coach to resign.  Some experts say that Tarkenton single handily set the Vikings back 5 years when he forced that trade.

Stories like this are, and always have been a  part of sports, but just as Lebron James recently discovered, in 2010 there are 24 hour news channels, endless internet reports, cell phone cameras, and idiot blogs from people that don’t know what they are talking about……….this one included.  There were multiple stations yesterday tracking flights from Mississippi to Minnesota…….are you serious?  Do you honestly think that Favre wanted that?  Do you think he asked 3 Viking teammates to fly down to his home and try to convince him to play this year?  We’re tired of hearing about it, but isn’t that because it’s all we hear about?  Do you really think a 40 year old QB has to do everything in training camp that a 22 year old rookie does?  Doesn’t everyone always talk about how meaningless pre season games are?  Why does it matter what talking heads or random fans think?  Shouldn’t we put more stock in Favre’s teammates, the guys that battle with him for 16 weeks that want him to play?  Isn’t it more annoying when someone says “I’m so sick of this whole Brett Favre story” followed by hours and hours of that same person talking about the Brett Favre story?

Is it possible that Favre is actually too honest and open?  If he didn’t always have a camera and a mic in his face maybe we wouldn’t have heard anything from him at all.  Isn’t it possible that at one moment you lean one way, and a few days later you lean another way?  I said a few years back I was going to quit my job, and then changed my mind.  If you want athletes to be honest don’t turn around and crush them for telling you how they feel in any given moment.  Don’t love the emotion on the field and hate it off the field.  Don’t hate a battle tested, tough as nails quarterback for skipping one pre season game while he decides if he can do it one last time, hate the fact that while the decision was being you were forced to listen to it when it wasn’t even a story.

The Head Hog

•August 6, 2010 • 3 Comments

This weekend longtime Washington Redskin offensive lineman Russ Grimm will be rightfully inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  Grimm will be the first member of the famed “Hogs” offensive line to land in Canton, and the fifth Redskin from the Joe Gibbs era to be enshrined.  As is usually the case with offensive lineman, Grimm’s induction will only be a blip on the radar this weekend.  I don’t think an offensive lineman will ever headline a class in Canton, Ohio, but this year in particular you’ll only hear two names, Jerry Rice and Emmit Smith.  This is not a complaint in anyway because Rice is in most peoples opinion the best wide receiver to ever play the game, and Smith has more rushing yards to his name than anyone who has ever played the game.

I was in Canton two years ago when Art Monk and Darrell Green joined Joe Gibbs and John Riggins as Redskins from my lifetime in the Hall of Fame.  The only thing that would have made that weekend better would have been if Grimm could have joined them, allowing him to take in the reception he would have received from the burgundy and gold tidal wave that crashed in Canton that weekend.  It was such a talked about event in and around Washington DC that weekend compared to this year when all we hear about is a guy who isn’t even practicing.

Between 1982 and 1992 (the most successful 10 year stretch in the franchises history) the Redskins won 3 Super Bowls and played in a 4th.  If I were to guess the most popular players during that glorious era of Redskin football I would guess, in no real order, Art Monk, Darrell Green, and John Riggins.

The parallel here is that while Quarterbacks, Running Backs, and Wide Receivers headline games, seasons, era’s, and Hall of Fame classes, guys like Russ Grimm fly under the radar.  It’s fair to say that without guys like Russ Grimm, guys like Riggins, and possibly even Monk wouldn’t have had the careers they did.  Russ Grimm was the leader of the most famous, and in my biased opinion, best collection of offensive lineman ever assembled.  Over a 10 year stretch the Redskins had close to ten all-pro caliber offensive lineman, and they are the main reason Washington DC has 3 Super Bowl trophies.  Grimm is the only one of these “hogs” to make it into Canton so far, but it’s certainly possible he won’t be the last.

As Skins fans now know, it’s hard to have a good season with a bad offensive line.  It’s almost as hard to be bad with a really good offensive line.  These guys rarely get the credit they deserve, the glory goes to the skill positions.  The most obvious example is Mark Rypien, a solid quarterback who became a Super Bowl and league MVP in 1991.  Behind Russ Grimm and the rest of the hogs Rypien was only sacked 9 times during that entire NFL season.  That was not a mistake, 9 times during an entire NFL season.  That same season the Skins had 3 different running backs average over 3 yards a carry.  Back up running back Ricky Ervins 680 yards would have led 9 different teams in rushing that season, and he had about 400 less rushing yards than Earnest Byner did.  Need another example? See Super Bowl 22, and what the o-line did for a guy named Timmy Smith, and how they protected Doug Williams during the air raid on Denver’s defense.

Lineman will never be household names, but they really should be.  I’d bet that tomorrow Emmit Smith thanks his offensive line while giving his speech, and says something like “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for those guys”.  He’s not just being nice to teammates, he’s telling the truth.  I’d also bet that Grimm spends some time talking about his fellow hogs, and how they were so instrumental to the teams success.  If you are a Redskins fan that was lucky enough to watch the team play during the 80’s and early 90’s I hope you can appreciate that as great as Riggins was, as great as Monk, Clark, and Sanders were, as well as Theismann, Williams, and Rypien passed the ball, as dominant as Manley, Mann, Butz, and Grant were, and as smooth and clutch as Darrell Green was there wouldn’t be any super bowl victories without names like Jeff Bostic, Mark Schlereth, George Stark, Mark May, Jim Lachey, Raleigh McKenzie, Doc Walker, Don Warren, Ed Simmons, and of course, the leader, and new Hall of Famer, Russ Grimm.

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