The Washington Redskins almost instantly didn’t like their stadium in Landover, Md., which must really stink for the taxpayers who paid $70.5 million for “land, sewer lines, highway interchanges and other infrastructure” for FedEx Field, opened in 1997.
The $180 million stadium itself was privately financed, but isn’t as nice as many of the NFL stadiums that have been built since. So the Redskins want a new stadium and are working on it now, even though their FedEx Field lease runs through 2026. It’s probably smart to get a jump on it now because it seems like there will be many layers of political battles along the way.
Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C. are possible locations for the stadium, but those who enjoy nostalgia and accuracy and want the Washington Redskins back in Washington might not get their wish. Team president Bruce Allen reiterated that the team will not change its controversial nickname if that’s a stipulation for them to move back to D.C.
He was asked if the team would consider changing its name to facilitate the move.
“No,” Allen said, according to CSN Washington.
So that’s that.
If the Redskins moved back to Washington D.C. it would almost certainly have to be on the site of old RFK Stadium. That land is owned by the National Park Service, which leased it to the city for the next 22 years, according to ESPN.com. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell is against the team’s nickname. So without a team name change, a move to D.C. might not be possible, because that department would need to approve the move. The nickname doesn’t seem to be such a big deal in neighboring states; ESPN points out that governors in Virginia and Maryland say they won’t pressure the team to change its name to move there. CSN Washington did say that some officials in Maryland have issues with the name, and the political climate in Virginia could change by the time serious stadium negotiations take place.
None of this is going to happen immediately, so the poor Redskins will have to grind it out for some more years in their 18-year-old stadium. The team is just starting talks with various government leaders, but wants to get the process going now because sometimes squeezing taxpayers of money to help out a billion-dollar team the process can take a while.
“Building a stadium is different than building a house,” Allen said, according to the Washington Times. “We wanted to get ahead of it and start doing the preliminary work. It’s not going to be a new stadium in the next 48 months, so we don’t have to worry about that.”
So, are the Washington Redskins racist or a sporting exception?
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Former Redskins quarterback Mark Brunell has defended Robert Griffin III against his critics before. As someone who transitioned from being a running quarterback to a more traditional pocket-passer after suffering a knee injury before his third season in Jacksonville, Brunell, now an ESPN analyst, expressed optimism that Griffin would be able to make similar changes to his game.
“He can get there,” Brunell told ESPN’s John Keim last May. “He’s one of the best young quarterbacks in the league and he got there because he’s a great athlete and he’ll be coached well. He’ll be fine. Other young quarterbacks couldn’t get to that point. He won’t be one of those guys. He’s smart.”
Even after Griffin struggled through the 2014 season, Brunell expressed hope that, with hard work, Griffin’s pocket instincts would improve.
“You can develop those [instincts],” he told Keim in January. “But to develop those instincts you have to stay in the pocket. You’ve got to be in there and it’s not easy because a lot of quarterbacks’ heads tell them to stay in there but the feet tell them we’ve got to go. It’s tough.”
On Monday, Brunell was part of a discussion of what went wrong for Griffin in 2014 on ESPN’s “NFL Live,” and his outlook for the Redskins QB sounded considerably less rosy.
“There were a series of things that were wrong with RGIII, and it really starts with his fundamentals,” Brunell said. “Unfortunately for the young quarterback, he has gone backwards.”
With video supporting each point, Brunell rattled off a few of Griffin’s biggest issues: poor footwork, including not stepping into his throws and transitioning his weight correctly, an inability to find open receivers and holding onto the ball for too long.
“Mark, the bottom line is this,” host Stephen A. Smith said. “Do you think RGIII is good enough to succeed in the NFL?
“I do not,” Brunell said. “From what I’ve seen the last couple of years — listen, he burst onto the scene and that was impressive — but like I said, he has gone backwards. It’s not just his decision-making, it’s his fundamentals. He’s taking too many hits, he’s quick to get out of the pocket. Last year was difficult to watch. Does he have the skill set? Yes, but we haven’t seen it in some time.”
Fellow analyst Damien Woody disagreed.
“Here’s the thing with RGIII,” Woody said. “Yes, you can look at a lot of deficiencies in his game. I’m going to choose to look at certain things that’s around him. Number one, the offensive line. ‘Suspect’ is putting it lightly. They were terrible. They were turrrible last year. What did they do? They brought in, in my opinion, the best offensive line coach, Bill Callahan. They drafted Brandon Scherff. What the Washington Redskins are doing right now, they’re focusing all of their energy on, outside of quarterback, probably the most important part of the team. That’s the trenches. They drafted heavily on the offensive line and defensive line. They’re going to get back to just smashing people in the mouth.”
Woody and Brunell both suggested that Griffin’s development depends on Redskins Coach Jay Gruden’s ability to maximize his talent.
“This is a make or break season for RGIII, without a doubt,” Brunell said. “If he doesn’t fix those inconsistencies, this could be it for him [in Washington]. It really could. … He hasn’t had a great supporting cast. Jay Gruden has to find out what he does well and focus on that. Find out what RGIII’s good at and let’s call those plays, let’s get him into a rhythm, get him some completions, take a little pressure off of him and let that running game get going.”
Smith asked if we know that Gruden is capable of that.
“I don’t believe we do,” Brunell said.
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