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heart and soul

Raise your hand if you think London Fletcher should have made the Pro Bowl.

Here’s hoping Washington Redskins middle linebacker London Fletcher wasn’t wearing any valuables yesterday, because he got robbed.

Of course, if we know Fletcher as well as we think we do, there’s no way he was wearing anything flashy. That’s simply not his style, which is probably why the 11-year veteran has never received a Pro Bowl nod.

While it’s true that the NFL’s version of an all-star game is completely irrelevant, it still would have been nice to see Fletcher finally get the recognition he deserves. Since the first moment he arrived in D.C., Fletcher has been the heart and soul of this defense (which, by the way, is routinely ranked in the top 10 in the league).

Even though he’s been dealing with a foot injury for some time now, there’s zero chance of Fletcher actually missing a game … or even a play. Don’t take our word for it, listen to Fletcher’s boss.

“If you listen to my wife, she said I’d have to be in the hospital, strapped down to the bed,” Fletcher said. “Not just in the hospital, but actually strapped to the bed.”

In the violent world of the NFL, where everybody is banged up to some extent during the season, Fletcher is always there. In fact, Fletcher has played in 133 consecutive games and you better believe he takes that streak seriously.

”If I feel I can go out and help the team win, then I’m gonna do my all to be out there and play,” Fletcher said.

Not to take anything away from the four Redskins players – running back Clinton Portis, fullback Mike Sellers, tight end Chris Cooley and tackle Chris Samuels – who were voted to the Pro Bowl, but if only one person from the burgundy and gold was sent to Hawaii, it should be Fletcher.

He’s currently got 118 tackles, which is fifth best in the NFL. But more importantly, he’s the one player on the entire Redskins roster they can’t afford to play without. Even during this recent losing streak, when more than a few people are wondering which Redskins players have given up on the season, Fletcher refuses to mail it in. While still dealing with a lingering foot issue, he’s managed to rack up 32 tackles in the last three games. If that doesn’t show the true type of player he is, then nothing will.

And besides, one of the guys who got the nod ahead of Fletcher, San Francisco linebacker Patrick Willis is listed as an outside linebacker on How is he getting voted to one of the inside/middle linebacker slots over London? And do we need to mention that four players from the anemic Redskins offense made the Pro Bowl, but not one player from the team’s perennial top-10 defense was chosen?

We don’t want to make personal attacks on Willis or anyone else that made the Pro Bowl roster. The purpose of this post is simply to say that if ever there was someone who truly deserved to be honored for his talented and dedication, it’s London. He’s much too classy to make a big deal out of the snub, which is why we felt compelled to speak on his behalf. Frankly, this entire ordeal is making us sick to our stomach.

(photo by Brian Murphy)

Update: David Elfin of The Washington Times has some awesome quotes from London Fletcher in response to being snubbed by his peers. Here’s an sample:

“I don’t know if it was because I wasn’t a first-round draft pick, I don’t do some kind of dance when I make a 10-yard tackle, I don’t go out and get arrested. I believe in playing the game the way it’s supposed to be played,” Fletcher told Elfin.

Click here for the rest.


chief zee is cooley’s homeboy

(photo by Matt Terl)

Let’s go back to better days. Back before the wheels officially came off on the 2008 Washington Redskins. Back when cautious optimism was the overwhelming feeling throughout D.C. Let’s go back to August.

Some fans may remember that ‘Skins superfan Zema Williams, who is better known as Chief Zee, had his tomahawk stolen while he was signing autographs before the preseason game against the Buffalo Bills.

“I had that thing for 25 years. Anytime you saw me, I had my little tomahawk,” Williams, told The Washington Post at the time. “I don’t see what they would do with it, but I’m sure whoever took it was playing a trick. I sat in the parking lot long after the game was over thinking someone would come out with it.”

Just when all seemed lost, Williams received help from an unlikely source – Redskins tight end Chris Cooley.

“It was actually Christy,” Cooley said. “We were sitting in Starbucks and we were just reading the paper – and we don’t read the paper all that often, but we were sitting in Starbucks, having a coffee and reading the paper and she said, ‘Look at this. Someone stole the Chief’s tomahawk.’ She’s been a Redskins’ fan her whole life and knows all about the traditions and all that stuff. She said we should use the blog to get it back, so I called Tanner right away and we put something up.”

The Cooleys posted a note on Chris’ wildly popular blog and retrieved the stolen item almost instantly.

“It was really easy,” Cooley said. “We got it back in like two hours. It was really quick.”

In an era when players commonly choose the biggest payday over team loyalty, Cooley bucked the trend by getting involved when he didn’t have to.

“He’s a good guy,” Cooley said of Chief Zee. “He’s a good guy and it’s cool to have that kind of tradition with the team.”

Wanting to somehow show his appreciation to the Cooley family, Williams thought of possible ways to show his appreciation. When Chief Zee teamed with Homer McFanboy to launch the “Chief Zee is my Homeboy” t-shirt, Williams had an idea. Last week, he signed a couple t-shirts and had them delivered to Chris at Redskins Park.

“With them putting that out to help get my tomahawk back, it just goes to show you,” Williams said. “I really didn’t think anyone would care. With someone like Cooley stepping up, that gives me more reason to go out and do my part and to spread the good word to fellow fans around the world. I really would like to thank the Cooleys for all their help.”

Instead of dwelling on all of the negatives surrounding the team these days, we figured we’d share one story that has a happier ending. Those interested can purchase the “Chief Zee is my Homeboy” t-shirts here.


bengals playlist

(photo by Brian Murphy)

1. “Dead and Gone” by T.I. (with Justin Timberlake)

It don’t get any worse than this folks.

In fact, tight end Chris Cooley, who has played in 78 games since he joined the team in 2004, said the Washington Redskins’ 20-13 loss to the lowly Cincinnati Bengals Sunday represented a new low.

“This is by far the worst loss I’ve experienced since I’ve been on the team,” Cooley said in the locker room following an embarrassing loss that all but guaranteed the ‘Skins will be home for the holidays watching other teams compete in the NFL playoffs.

Cooley’s candor aside, several of his teammates echoed the tight end’s words and were left to try and figure out exactly where things went wrong. How did the Redskins go from being mentioned among the league’s elite at 6-2 to here, last in the division and still free falling at 7-7? More specifically, how did they manage to lose to the Bengals, when they came into the game a pitiful 1-11-1?

2. “No Excuses” by Alice in Chains

There are two possible explanations for where the Washington Redskins currently stand. One, the team has quit on head coach Jim Zorn. The other option is that this team just isn’t very good. Neither option is good. Mostly because both mean changes, once again, will be taking place this offseason at Redskins Park.

Was this a playoff-caliber team when Jim Zorn took over or were they simply a squad that got hot at the right time and overachieved to reach the postseason last season? Once that question is answered honestly, then we can begin to determine just how much work needs to go into rebuilding this franchise.

3. “Breakin’ Old Habits” by The Notorious B.I.G.

The problem is, well … the sheer number of problems this team is currently having. The offense can’t score points. The defense can’t make a fourth-quarter stop. Special teams should have clown music playing whenever they take the field. Honestly, we should just say the things this team is doing well instead of focusing on everything not going right. It would save time.

Take for example the punt return game. Everyone knows Antwaan Randle El has been absolutely worthless returning punts. Well, they put Santana Moss back there twice and he’s actually capable of making something happen. So what happens? Both times Moss had a punt return, the team was penalized. It’s as if they’re not used to having a competent returner back there, so they didn’t know what they were supposed to do once Moss took a return more than three yards.

While we’re on the subject of special teams, it’s readily apparent Shaun Suisham is not planning on being a member of the Redskins next season. Not only does he routinely miss field goal attempts, but then he decides to kick the ball out of bounds on a kickoff. He apparently tried to sneak back into the bench area after the play until Zorn screamed for him. An ear chewing followed that included many words not suitable for print. For the record, the only other time we saw a serious reaction from Zorn was after the team had to settle for a field goal to make the score 17-10. He just lowered his head and muttered under his breathe about the fact that the offense couldn’t get into the endzone. Clearly he said what most of us were thinking.

4. “Predictable” by Korn

And speaking of that offense … where do we begin? Most days “poor execution” is to blame, or at least that’s been the coach’s go-to response week in and week out. Not today. This loss falls squarely on Zorn. How can you have one of the best running backs in the league and not use him on the goal line at least once? Mike Sellers is a very solid player, but if the 280 lb. fullback couldn’t get in the first time, then why go back on the very next play? Why not give the ball to Clinton Portis, who at last check was the NFC’s third-leading rusher? Seriously, this isn’t rocket surgery (to borrow a phrase from Joe Theismann). Stop trying to over think things and give the ball to your playmakers.

The offense has become stale and predictable. They don’t challenge opposing defenses at all and don’t take chances (unless you count throwing a four-yard pass on third and six).

While the losses are piling up, folks around town are jumping all over Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell, who admittedly needs to play at a higher level if this team is truly going to be competitive with the league’s elite. But here’s the thing – it’s not like everyone else on the roster is lighting it up while Campbell struggles. There are issues nearly everywhere you look.

Campbell got outplayed by a nobody quarterback named Ryan Fitzpatrick. But so did Portis, who got outplayed by Cedric Benson, the same Cedric Benson who was last seen getting pepper sprayed by police for drunk driving a boat. Sadly, this was the case for most of the positional comparisons between the ‘Skins and the lowly Bengals. For a creative offensive head coach, Zorn sure does run a predictable operation.

5. “I predict a Riot” by Kaiser Chiefs

All that being said, the Redskins absolutely should not fire Jim Zorn after just one season. Is he in over his head? Possibly. Do changes need to be made? Absolutely. But it would be a mistake to run the first-year coach out of town after his inaugural campaign. Management must resist the urge to do what comes all too easy at Redskins Park – overreacting in an attempt to save face while criticism mounts.

Zorn did something right at the beginning of the year and was able to get a flawed team to 6-2. He’s still the same coach capable of putting together a winner. He just needs some help, whether it be in gameplanning or transforming the roster to better be able to run a true West Coast offense. Don’t do it. Don’t fire Zorn. The right coach is on board. Instead of focusing on possible coaching replacements or other bad ideas, spend your time devising ways to help put him in the best position to succeed.

Bonus track: “Bengals Growl” by Bird’s Band

If nothing else, this link should serve as a reminder that things could always be worse. Not only have the Bengals been terrible for as long as folks can remember, but they also have the most embarrassing excuse for a “fight song” in the history of football. This is the actual song played at Bengals home games when the team scores. Seriously. We couldn’t make this stuff up.


a fabulous hollywood update

(courtesy photo)

Earlier this week, we broke the story that Washington Redskins reserve offensive lineman Jason Fabini surprisingly appeared in the movie Made, a 2001 comedy featuring Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn.

Well, here’s visual evidence of Jason “Hollywood Fabulous” Fabini’s cameo in the follow-up to sequel to Swingers. (Sorry to go all “Perez Hilton” on you with the crude drawing on a screen capture).

As you can see, Fabini really nails his role as “Doorman #3” while sharing the screen with the likes of Favreau, Vaughn, Dustin “Screech” Diamond, Sean “P Diddy” Combs and Federico “Furio from the Sopranos” Castelluccio. He’s both a) wearing a suit and 2) standing by the door, ready to spring into action whenever the door needs opened. If there’s a better man for the job in all the land, we haven’t met him.

This officially ends the most blogged about week of Fabini’s life. In addition to some love here at Homer McFanboy, the little-used lineman has also appeared in the D.C. Sports Bog, The Official Redskins Blog and in a player profile on Chris Cooley’s blog. Oh, and he also drives a smart car.

Is it too late to add this guy to the Redskins … er … NFC Pro Bowl roster?


what just happened?

(photo by Brian Murphy)

Holy shit.

That was our reaction when a friend sent us a link to a Sports Illustrated feature story on Washington Redskins rookie safety Chris “The Predator” Horton. In it, writer Lee Jenkins talks to Horton about following in his idol Sean Taylor’s footsteps, but one particular passage caught our eye and elicited the above reaction:

Redskins’ blogger Homer McFanboy started referring to Horton as The Predator — because of his shoulder-length hair and aggressive style — and somehow the nickname stuck. Horton is so enamored with the moniker that his website is

Needless to say we weren’t expecting to be mentioned by the biggest name in the business when we woke up this morning. We haven’t been this excited since we got some love on Alex Ovechkin’s official website. So thanks to Jenkins and Sports Illustrated for the shoutout and to Horton for being such a good dude and a nice story for ‘Skins fans to enjoy this season.


here’s johnny

(photo by Lawrence Jackson)

A funny thing happened this past offseason when the Washington Capitals were left at the alter by Cristobal Huet – the team accidentally found it’s number-one goalie.

Instead of re-signing with the Caps after coming over at the trading deadline last season, Huet leveraged the team’s offer into a bigger payday with the Chicago Blackhawks (a four-year deal worth $5.625 million annually).

That’s when general manager George McPhee quickly moved to ‘Plan B,’ which turned out to be signing free agent goalie Jose Theodore to a two-year, $9 million contract. Everyone assumed he would take over as the number-one goaltender while Brent Johnson, earning just $825,000, would fill in as needed. There’s just one problem – Johnson has clearly outplayed Theodore this season.

For the season, Johnson has a 2.37 goals against average, a .918 save percentage and a 8-4-2 record. Theodore has a 3.08 goals against average, .888 save percentage and is 8-6-1 on the year. Both players have been asked to do more while the team has dealt with an extraordinary amount of injuries, but Johnson has clearly done better shouldering the additional responsibilities.

In his last three games, all wins by the Caps, Johnson has an unheard of .952 save percentage. He’s only given up four goals on 83 shots during that span. Meanwhile, Theodore has lost his last two starts.

Last night was a perfect example of why Johnson should be the clear-cut starter. The Boston Bruins, the best team in the East Conference and winners of 17 of their last 20 games, were in town riding a five-game winning streak. No one has been able to slow them down all season and yet, Johnson sent them home shaking their heads and wondering what had just happened after turning in his best effort of the season.

In the first period, Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron flew in on a breakaway down the left wing. He fired a shot which Johnson turned away, only the rebound ended up on the stick of Chuck Kobasew, who thought he had an easy goal. Kobasew, who had crashed in from the right wing, quickly shot the puck towards a wide-open net, only to be stonewalled by Johnson.

And that wasn’t even the save of the night for Johnny. His second-period effort on Bruins rookie Blake Wheeler, who was standing on the doorstep and looked to have a “gimme,” is easily one of the best saves in the entire NHL this season. While Wheeler was planning his post-goal celebration after faking past Johnson for the easy score, Johnson lunged backwards and somehow dropped his stick on the ice just in time to keep the puck out of the net.

“(Wheeler) actually made a really, really good move,” Johnson said to reporters after the game. “I thought he was definitely going to his backhand. I just threw everything and prayed that he didn’t get it up. I’m sure he wanted to get it up but I just got lucky there.”

What did Wheeler say about being on the wrong end of the NHL’s highlight of the night?

“Extraordinary,” Wheeler said. “He’s pulling some saves out of thin air.”

The truth is, Johnson should have earned a shutout Wednesday night. Nothing to take away anything from a very talented Bruins squad, but Milan Lucic’s goal with 35 seconds left in the second period was caused by a Tyler Sloan mistake – not because of anything Johnson did. His 33-save outing against a very lethal Boston offense is easily the most impressive performance by a Capitals goalie this season. Coach Bruce Boudreau may never come out and formally announce Johnson as the starter, but the number at the end of the season will show who the team turns to when they absolutely need a win.

And to think, we may never had gotten the chance to see just how talented Johnson is if Huet didn’t get greedy.


common sense is overrated

(photo by Brian Murphy)

Dear Redskins fans,

We’re sorry to disappoint you, but the entire Clinton Portis-Jim Zorn issue that’s got your panties in a bunch? Yeah, it’s nothing. You’re not going to want to hear us, but that’s the truth.

How often has your boss pissed you off by doing something you didn’t agree with? It happens all the time in every workplace in America. The only reason this is newsworthy is because one of the parties involved failed to keep things in house. But really, that’s just Portis. He’s always been an emotional guy who says whatever is on his mind. Remember before the season started when quotes came out about Portis wishing he could run behind a better offensive line? Yeah, those comments were forgotten as soon as C.P. reeled off five-straight 120-yard performances.

This issue involving the team’s best offensive player and the rookie head coach is already dead and gone as far as those who work at Redskins Park are concerned. We had a chance to talk to Portis’ teammates Wednesday to gauge their reaction on all the drama and can tell you with 100 percent certainty that the rest of the locker room wasn’t even fazed by this.

“That’s just Clinton,” said center Casey Rabach, who’s been around the star running back long enough to know he marches to the beat of a different drum.

When asked for his thoughts on it all, defensive tackle Anthony Montgomery admitted that he and his wife jumped on the computer to see what all the fuss was about. They expected to hear all of this scandalous and juicy drama from Portis on the John Thompson Show, but were disappointed.

“My wife fell asleep while we were listening to it,” Montgomery admitted.

If this is a major issue that will surely rip apart an entire locker room, then why is Mama Montgomery dozing off? And why did Monty, who has to spend the majority of his time in this supposed hostile-work environment, turn it off before he even finished the entire interview? Because it was a bigger deal to the media members who need to sell newspapers or get hits on websites than it was to the people who actually reside at Redskins Park.

Two things get D.C. truly fired up – a quarterback controversy and a big-time scandal. Folks thought that Portis versus Zorn was surely going to fit in the later category, but this ain’t it. There was plenty of hype, but truth be told Portis versus Brian Mitchell was more exciting than this. At least those guys were going back and forth, letting each other have it. This was just one frustrated player blowing off some steam after suffering through his team’s fourth loss in five games and being unhappy he wasn’t able to be more involved in trying to turn things around.

What would you rather have — a player who is unhappy because he feels he’s better suited to help his team in the game rather than on the bench or someone just going through the motions and collecting a free paycheck? We already tried the Brandon Lloyd era. How did that work out for us?

So take a deep breath and relax. Come Sunday afternoon all of this will be forgotten (well … until whatever substandard announcing team brings it up every time either Zorn or Portis is on the screen). Just realize that things could have been a whole lot worse. Just look on the other side of the field this weekend at Chad Johnson, who was once so unhappy with his coach that he punched him.

It’s all about perspective, fellas.


– murf.

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