Mind Over Sports

Posts Tagged ‘Washington Redskins

There’s been quite a bit in the press lately about the law suit filed by a group of five American Indians to force Daniel Snyder, owner of the NFL Washington Redskins to change the team’s name because it’s a slur toward American Indians. If Amanda Blackhorse and her group win their case, they would essentially strip the federal trademark rights from the team so that anyone anywhere in the world could produce a product and put the Washington Redskins name on it and market it without having to share any portion of the profit with Snyder or his team. Which could become a considerable loss of revenue for Snyder. From my perspective, I believe if the name “Redskins” is an affront to American Indians it should be changed. After all, what’s wrong with “Washington Warriors?” Or “Washington Skins?”

When one of the NFL’s top wide receivers drops a pass in a single game it could be written off as just a mental error. But when he drops two, a little light goes off. And when he drops three, you figure there’s gotta be a reason. Some of the media pundits are saying that “his off-season celebrity has affected his performance” and there could be some truth to that. But more than likely there was something that took place in Cruz’s personal life the night before the game that affected his focus. Something he bottled-up and didn’t tell anyone about. Perhaps it had something to do with his infant daughter Kennedy or his long-time girlfriend, Elaina Watley.  Whatever the reason, it’s another example of how what takes place away from the football field affects what takes place on the football field. If in Cruz’s next game against Tampa Bay he reverts back to his old reliable self, we’ll know that he resolved whatever mental issue or issues he had that may have been hovering above him like a dark cloud.

NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Sammy Baugh suspected the 1940 NFL championship game – a 73-0 route by the Chicago Bears – was not what it seemed. Baugh believed some of his Washington Redskin teammates tried to lose as a way to spite the Redskin’s owner. Baugh, when he turned 85, said that his teammates were furious with Redskins owner George Preston Marshall and allowed the Bears to run up the score. Baugh acknowledged he had no proof and said he never came forward because he was never asked. Baugh said some of his teammates were upset with Marshall because he had taunted the Bears after Washington defeated Chicago 7-3 two weeks before the title game. “I think it happened because of what the owner did for two weeks,” Baugh said. “He put things in the paper running the Bears down. You don’t want to help the other team. You shouldn’t say things like that. It made us so mad. They decided not to play. Look at the game. How many times do you beat a team two weeks earlier in a real close game, and two weeks later you don’t do a thing? I don’t think we even wanted to win.”

It seems to me that the Washington Redskins’ defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, could take a few pointers from the team’s offensive coordinator, Al Saunders. That is, take advantage of a player’s personal belief system and don’t ask him to perform at a position that he feels he’s weak at. The Kansas City Chiefs realized this half-way through this season when the coaching staff was finally convinced by some of the players, including Kyle Turley and Brian Waters, that Jordan Black belonged at the left tackle position, not right tackle. And as soon as the change was made, Black’s level of performance increased considerably. According to an article that appeared in the Kansas City Star, November 11, 2006: “He’s been phenomenal,” Turley said of Black, “he should have been at left tackle from the start.” The same article quoted Black as saying that left tackle was his natural position: “Getting back in one spot is big” Black said. “A lot of people think there’s no difference in playing right tackle or left tackle. But there’s a difference. I always knew I could play. I just needed the opportunity to play one position.”

Which brings us to situation involving Adam Archuleta and the Redskins. According to an article in December 29, 2006 issue of USA Today, Archuleta has been in the doghouse all season.

adam-archuletaArguably the best linebacker in the NFL when he played for the Rams, Archuleta hasn’t played a snap on defense in seven weeks. “It became immediately apparent in training camp that Williams wanted to use Archuleta in different ways than the Rams did. Archuleta, a hard-hitting converted linebacker, was asked to play more coverage, not his strong suit.

He started the first seven games only because Pierson Prioleau was out for the season with a knee injury, and Archuleta’s liabilities are one of the reasons the Redskins lead the league in allowing passes of 20 yards or more. Now Archuleta is used only on special teams. Archuleta wouldn’t go into details but indicated the coaches have not been upfront with him. ‘I’m a grown man. I don’t like getting lied to’ Archuleta said. ‘I don’t mind if somebody says to my face what my flaws are and what I’m doing wrong. I welcome those because an honest assessment is all anybody wants in this business.'” One of the biggest complaints I’ve often heard from NFL players is when they felt their coaches weren’t upfront and honest with them. And if other defensive players for the Redskins feel the same, and are not speaking up, it’s no small wonder that the Redskins are having defense problems. By not speaking up about issues and keeping them bottled up inside themselves they are negatively affecting their own performance. Good coaches know this instinctively.

I think a quote from former major league baseball manager Whitey Herzog is appropriate here. In his book, “You’re Missin’ A Great Game,” Herzog points out that in major league baseball, in many instances, “the team gets rid of the player, when the manager (coach) is the problem all along.”

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