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hey mister carter …

(photo by Brian Murphy)

Although it’s the offseason, this is typically the time of year when the Washington Redskins make their biggest headlines.

With a creative and aggressive front office, the ‘Skins over the years have consistently managed to restructure deals with core players to free up salary cap space to be ready if/when the right free agent comes along.

With that in mind, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when the Washington Post announced last night that the Redskins had finalized new contracts with defensive end Andre Carter and wide receiver Antwaan Randle El. At this point it’s barely newsworthy (after all, these same two players have been down this very road before). Either way, we used this as an excuse to contact Carter and see how he’s enjoying his offseason.

Congratulations on the new contract. How did it come about? Did the team contact you and ask you to restructure your deal?

“That’s basically what it was,” Carter said. “It was more of a restructuring than a new deal. Honestly, that’s just how it is in this business. We did it to make more room for guys to come in during free agency or the draft. It was a decision to help the team because you never know in this business. I’m about to be 30 years old and anything can happen, so I’m blessed to be able to do this deal, and honestly, my perspective is to just take it year by year. I’m definitely back for the 2009 season and we’ll just kind of go on from there.”

Does this new deal really change anything for you? The breakdown in the Post seemed to indicate you’re getting the same basic amount of money, it’s just shifted into a different category for salary cap purposes.

“Yeah, that’s basically what it is,” he said. “With this, there’s just more up front and hey, any man would take it. Like I said, I consider it more of a blessing than anything. It just means I’ve got less to worry about, like whether or not I’m going to have a spot on the team. So I’m happy that Vinny Cerrato and Eric Shaffer, who is in charge of the contracts, got with my agent to say, ‘This is what we want to do.’”

Don’t you do this restructuring every year? Do you basically have a reminder on your calendar that says today is the day to restructure my contract?

“I think so, I think that’s how it is,” Carter said. “I’m not sure about other players because I haven’t really read anything, but that seems to be the case with me. I’m not really trippin’ about it, it’s just the nature of the business.”

So where you at these days?

“Yeah, I’m back in California,” he said. “I’m just enjoying the Bay area – seeing a lot of friends, doing a lot of stuff with our church and I’ll start doing my running and conditioning soon. I usually like to take a good month and a half off.”

Have you done any kind of vacationing?

“Me and my wife just went to Vegas, man,” Carter said. “We went for a few days on a little adult vacation. Other than that, we’ve got two kids, so we can only do so much.”

Did you win while you were in Vegas?

“Actually I’m not a gambling man, believe it or not,” he said. “I just rolled there to enjoy the festivities. We got some friends out there and I tried to get with Renaldo Wynn, he has a house out there, but we couldn’t touch base. No luck, but hopefully next time.”

You mentioned your offseason program. What kind of workouts do you do to get yourself ready for the first day of camp?

“Actually, I’m one of those guys that will do mixed martial arts,” Carter said. “It’s a combination of Muay Thai, kickboxing and boxing itself to work on my hand-eye coordination. It’s one of those workouts that’s really challenging because you think you’re conditioned, but this is a whole different level. You’re just moving nonstop, at a rapid pace, and moving different body parts.

“It’s a great challenge to go with the typical stuff like weightlifting,” he said. “For me, I like doing the explosive lifts. The power cleans, body squats and snatches, bench presses and typical lifts. Speed work wise, I do quick foot work – you know, five- and 10-yard burst out on the field. But that’s more for my position.”

Talking about lifting, some of that sounds like what Philip Daniels is into, right? Are you trying to get into the heavy lifting like him?

“Nah, I’ve been incorporating some of those workouts throughout my offseasons, but it’s not as extreme as his,” he said. “He’s much more into powerlifting, where he just puts on all that weight and does it. He’s a strong man. I’m good on the powerlifting. I get good weight in, but I’m not trying to beat up my body or anything.”

You mentioned Renaldo, have you been in touch with any other teammates, past or present?

“Yeah, I talk to Phil a lot,” Carter said. “Me and [Cornelius Griffin] text from time to time. I talked to Demetric Evans, Marcus Washington, Mike Sellers not too long ago. Lorenzo Alexander. That’s pretty much it. Those are the main guys I’ve spoken to.”

There have been some questions this offseason as to whether you and Jason Taylor can work as the starting defensive ends. Do you think the team needs to add some depth, or can you two get it done?

“I think we have enough to get it done,” he said. “Perhaps they’ll just bring in another guy to give us a little more depth, but with Jason it was tough. People have got to understand that what Jason has done in the NFL, he’s had great success. Granted, he was successful in a different scheme, but I think to a certain degree how he played in that particular scheme he was just more of an upfield pass rusher and he played the run well. Now, when he came to our division and our scheme, perhaps it handcuffed him a little bit because we do things a certain way. That’s just how it is when you go to a different team, man. It’s not going to be the same exact scheme or fundamentals that worked for you in previous years.

“I think Greg Blache and the rest of the organization will analyze everything, look at that and kind of see what happens. As far as his future with the Redskins, honestly, I don’t know. It’d be great to have him back, but I don’t know what will happen as far as they bring him back to be more of just a pass-rush guy for our team or what.”

Doesn’t it fall on the coaching staff to find the best way to utilize the players on the roster?

“Right, right,” Carter said. “It does. It definitely does, but this game is so unpredictable that you never know what’s going to happen. Overall, Jason’s been a great guy. I’ve enjoyed working with him and hopefully he’ll be back. Like I said, it’s a business though. If by chance he doesn’t come back, he’ll definitely be missed. It was an honor to play with him last season.”

We’re not going to ask for any insider information, but do you anticipate this being a busy offseason at Redskins Park?

“Honestly, it seems like every year is a busy offseason,” he said with a laugh. “So I’ll just go with the flow and guess it’ll be a busy offseason. For whatever reason it seems that Redskins Park is always busy. So no, I don’t think anything’s going to change.”


the mike green takeover

(photo by Brian Murphy)

Mike Green leads all NHL defensemen in goals and points scored. Mike Green is second in the entire league in powerplay goals. Mike Green has more goals this season than All Stars Ryan Getzlaf, Henrik Zetterberg and Jonathan Toews, even though they’ve all played in more games this season and are, you know, forwards.

But that’s not what’s important. If you know nothing else about the future Norris Trophy winner, know this – Mike Green can kick your kid’s ass.

Not tracking? Keep reading and you’ll understand.

Hey Mike, we read a feature story on you last week on that said you’re a big fan of UFC. What do you know about mixed martial arts?

“I follow it a bit, but it’s just a sport that I’m interested in,” Green said. “Mostly I’m interested in the training that they do to prepare for a fight. If you’ve ever seen it, it’s pretty incredible.”

We know you’ve got some buddies on the Washington Redskins. You should talk to Santana Moss because he’s incorporated some mixed martial arts into his offseason program. When we talked to him about it, he said it really helped with his conditioning. What appeals to you?

“It’s the most extreme training I’ve ever seen,” he said. “It would help you as an athlete no matter what sport you’re playing. That’s why it interests me. Hopefully here I can meet some of the guys and you never know, maybe they’ll bring me to a training session in the summer time.”

We know you’re a fan of Chuck Liddell. Which other UFC fighters are you a fan of?

“Obviously [Randy] Couture,” Green said. “He’s a legend. But another guy I like is [Georges] St-Pierre.”

Did you watch his fight against B.J. Penn?

“Yeah, he killed him,” he said.

St-Pierre definitely showed he’s one of the best in the business. So what would your style be if you ever stepped into the octagon?

“I don’t know,” he said laughing. “I don’t think I ever would … unless it’s against 14-year-old kids. I don’t think I’d hold my own in there.”

Green’s two-goal effort over the weekend against the Florida Panthers extended his goal-scoring streak to six games, something no defenseman had done since Hall of Famer Ray Bourque back in 1984. If he scores again Wednesday night, he’ll tie the NHL record.

And let’s be honest here, as long as he continues this elite level of play, no one cares that Green is only capable of roughing up kids who still have to deal with chores and curfews. Score a few more goals and we’ll gladly help you pocket their lunch money.


catch a beat running like …

(photo by Brian Murphy)
Santana Moss will forever be remembered for his late-game heroics during a Monday Night Football game in Dallas back in 2005. His 39 and 70 yard touchdowns propelled the ‘Skins to an improbable 14-13 victory over the rival Cowboys in a game they had no business winning. The following season, Moss struck again, hauling in a 68-yard game winner in overtime to shock the Jacksonville Jaguars 36-30 (in what I consider the most exciting game I’ve covered). These are the moments that define the diminutive receiver.

Unfortunately, these moments were few and far between last season. After a solid start, a strained groin slowed Moss for much of the rest of the 2007 season. We had a chance to catch up with Santana recently and chatted about everything from marriage to mixed martial arts. Oh, and we even found time to discuss a little football too.

How frustrating was last year, with all of the nagging injuries and everything?

“It was, but at the same time, when you overcome it, it builds you to be a stronger person,” Moss said. “One thing I take from every year, I look at what I go through and I say to myself ‘How did I finish?’ Or ‘What did I accomplish?’ If you can get something out of — because no one in the NFL is going to play with everything alright — but when I go through stuff like that it just builds me stronger and makes me understand that I’m doing things when I’m not at full speed. I’m just looking forward to having one of those years where, if nothing’s bothering me, I’ll just be able to dominate the whole time.”

So are you tired of training camp, or are you actually getting something out of this?

“I like to put in the work and really look forward to what we gonna be able to show after the whole thing is done,” he said. “Training camp is one of those experiences where there’s gonna be dog days and it’s gonna be hard, but as long as you put the work in you have something to look forward to when it comes to the season.”

Congrats on getting married this offseason. Has that changed anything between the two of you?

“Nah. I’ve been with her like 13 years already, so it just made an honest woman out of her. That’s all,” Moss said.

Naturally, the topic of marriage made me think of mixed martial arts, so I asked Santana about MMA and was surprised by his answer.

“I like that. I actually enjoy watching that. I actually trained — I did a little of that training-wise this year, and it’s some tough shit, man,” he said.

What did you do?

“All kinds of stuff,” he said. “The conditioning is crazy — the fighting, the punching and the kicking. You think you can do that for hours, and those guys can do it. But it’s not easy at all. So my first couple of months when I was home, instead of doing football stuff, just to keep my wind right. There wasn’t a day that I did it that I was in shape. I felt like it broke me down every day. There was something new that I experienced every day.”

What are you seeing from these rookie receivers?

“I see a lot of potential,” Moss said. “When you come into this league young, with so much going on, you’re trying to settle in and trying to do this and do that. What I see with these guys, they’re confident. They already know that they’ve got guys in front of them that’s gonna help them. There’s no envy. We all here together. We’ve all been in this situation, so I’m gonna let them know everything that I know, and the stuff that I don’t know we’ll learn together.”

What can Redskins fans expect from you guys this year?

“You know, it’s early,” he said. “All we can do is be the best that we can be. I don’t like to talk the talk. I like to go out there and show it. All they can know is that we’re gonna line up every week and be the best team.”

A healthy and motivated Santana Moss is just what this team, and especially Jason Campbell need for the 2008 season. With things looking up both on and off the field for Moss, Redskins fans can reasonably expect a return to the Pro Bowl level they’re used to seeing. And with some mixed martial arts under his belt, we can only hope that the first time Adam “Pacman” Jones or Asante Samuel attempt to jam him at the line of scrimmage, he breaks out a rear-naked choke and makes them tap.

And heaven help Roy Williams if he tries to horse collar anyone when the ‘Skins and Cowboys meet again.


the redskins’ ultimate fighter

This past Saturday night, Anderson “The Spider” Silva showed why he is the best mixed martial arts fighter in the world, putting James “The Sandman” Irvin to sleep without breaking a sweat during a UFC event on Spike TV.

Just one minute into the bout, Irvin attempted to sweep kick Silva. Unfortunately for him, the Brazilian caught Irvin’s foot with a left hand and with the challenger now completely defenseless, drove a crushing blow into “The Sandman’s” face. Game over. Thank you and good night.

That got me thinking, with Redskins training camp less than 24 hours away, I wondered which ‘Skins player would be crowned the Ultimate Fighting Champion if they had a tournament at Redskins Park.

Would it be a fan favorite like “Iron” Mike Sellers? Or maybe a chiseled monster like Andre Carter? Or possibly even Clinton Portis, who famously sported a WCW championship belt on the sidelines while playing for the Denver Broncos? The possibilities seemed endless.

So while the rest of the beat reporters and talking heads were asking the generic stuff, I was busy conducting an informal poll among the players as to who they think would be the last man standing. Here’s the funny thing, none of the six guys I interviewed Sunday afternoon were even remotely thrown off by my “Who would be the Redskins’ Ultimate Fighter Champion” question. Either they’ve gotten used to me over the last four seasons or this is something the guys have talked about in the locker room at some point.

The first guy I talked to was Casey Rabach, who is consistently one of the most enjoyable interviews on the team. First I asked him who would win, and then followed up by asking if it’d be a big guy like Mike Sellers or maybe a smaller, quicker guy.

“Sellers is a big [rhymes with wussy],” Rabach said.

I actually looked around to see if I was in the line of fire, just in case Sellers heard him.

“You know what, it’d probably be some crazy-ass [sounds like mother-father],” Rabach continued. “I’d probably put my money on someone who ain’t got a lot between the ears, that’s got some stamina … yeah, LaRon Landry might pull that one out.”

Chalk one vote for Landry.

“Honestly, I don’t know. Marcus seems like the UFC type, so maybe Marcus,” said Ladell Betts, of linebacker Marcus Washington. “I think Marcus is one of the tough guys on the team.”

One vote for Landry, and one vote for Washington.

“Weight class?” asked Antwaan Randel El.

No weight classes, I replied.

After throwing around a couple different names, Randel El eventually settled on Marcus Washington.

“He’d be like a crazy man in there,” he said.

Two votes for Washington. One for Landry.

With the players giving him support, I decided to seek out Washington to see who he thought would come out on top.

“I like to think I might get this belt,” Marcus said. “I think I might get in there and represent for the ‘Skins.”

I asked what kind of fighter Washington would be, and without hesitation he replied “I’d be a Kimbo Slice, just a street brawler, you know.”

That’s three votes for Washington. One for Landry.

“Probably Mike Sellers,” said Jason Campbell.

When I informed him that he was the first person to vote for “Iron” Mike, he said “I wonder whose getting the love? You gotta have a wild guy to win the Ultimate Fighter.”

“Someone told me you gotta have a guy who is pretty wild, but doesn’t have much between the ears,” I said.

“Then I’d probably say LaRon Landry,” Campbell said with a laugh.

That’s three votes for Washington. Two votes for (and two shots at) Landry.

Finally, I track down Captain Chaos himself, Chris Cooley. After all, if we’re going to ask a bizarre question, we’ve got to ask the most unpredictable guy on the roster.

“Honestly, that’s a great question and I don’t want to give myself props, but I was an All-American wrestler in high school and I think I’d have a pretty good chance.”

And unlike Rabach, Cooley had kind things to say about his tough-guy teammate.

“Mike Sellers would be tough, and I wouldn’t want to get punched in the face by Mike,” he said.

I tried to track down Sellers, but he had already headed inside to lift weights. So we’ll have to wait another day or two for his official opinions in regards to the Redskins Ultimate Fighter title, and possibly even a comment about a certain starting center who, for his safety, may have to hide in an RV the rest of training camp. But for today, we crown Marcus Washington the team’s Ultimate Fighter.

(photo by Brian Murphy)


note: the next big thing

(courtesy photo)

Lately, I’ve been hearing grumblings from a lot of restless sports fans because they feel there’s nothing worth tuning in for during these dog days of summer. Football training camps are still a month away, most NBA and NHL teams have no money or no interest in the free agents available and even Tiger Woods can’t be bothered to show up for his own golf tournament. So unless you’re a diehard baseball purist who enjoys 18-17 pitcher’s duels, you’re pretty much out of luck. Or so they say.

While most folks were forced to watch the Serena and Venus battle in the “women’s” final at Wimbledon or Kyle Busch win another NASCAR race, I was at my local watering hole watching the most exciting sporting event of the weekend, the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s UFC 86 pay-per-view.

So in honor of the octagon, here are eight reasons why folks should tune in and see what they’re missing with the UFC:

1. Joe Rogan – You may remember him from such hits as Fear Factor and News Radio, but Rogan is the color commentator for UFC broadcasts. And much like when he’s at a Carlos Mencia comedy show, Rogan’s not afraid to call people out when he feels it’s warranted.

But don’t think that Joe’s just brought in because he’s a Hollywood name. No, the man knows his stuff. That’s probably because he first started mixed martial arts at the age of 13.

Fun fact: Rogan can probably kick your ass – he’s a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsui.

2. The Octagon Girls – Click this link.

Fun fact: Nuf’ said.

Click here for the rest of the article.

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