all you can eat

We officially live in a “no fun” world — where every kid in the league gets a trophy regardless of whether their team wins a game or not and character-building games like dodgeball are almost universally banned. So it should come as no surprise that moments after Papa John’s put together some timely t-shirts with LeBron James’ number and the name “crybaby,” they issued an apology for offending people.

Papa John’s will sell Cleveland residents a large, one-topping pizza for 23 cents this week, and will also donate $10,000 to the Cavaliers Youth Fund. I realize this is a no-brainer for them because they get a ton of free publicity, but this is not cool. Either have the stones to call someone out or don’t. This is no better than playing both sides of the feud — sticking whichever side is winning.

Sports are all about trash talking, and it should be a good thing if D.C. establishments want to get in the game and support the local franchises. But don’t wuss out and bail the second you get a phonecall complaining (even if it’s from the commissioner David Stern). You had the grapefruits to think up the t-shirts and to have them made. Stand by your decision and tell Cleveland to, once again, quit crying.


shake and bake

In murf, nascar by b murf / May 5, 2008 / 4 Comments
(photos by my wife)

“America is all about speed. Hot, nasty, bad-ass speed.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

Let me start off by saying that this is a D.C.-themed sports blog. The focus is, and will always be, on anything and everything pertaining to the District’s sports franchises. Having said that, from time to time we might wander off the beaten path just a little bit.

This past weekend, I hit the road down to the Richmond International Raceway to shoot photos of The Dan Lowry 400 race Saturday night. The way I look at it, Redskins Hall of Fame head coach Joe Gibbs has a NASCAR team, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. is a diehard ‘Skins fan, so we’re justified in taking a “Ricky Bobby” moment or two on a slow news day. Which transitions nicely to this –
Hey Jeff Gordon, “if you ain’t first, you’re last.”

I don’t personally have anything against Gordon, and I’m not enough of a NASCAR fan to put him in the same category as the hated Dallas Cowboys or the Pittsburgh Penguins, but I was able to do something he wasn’t this weekend — be the lead car on the Richmond International Raceway.

That’s right, when no one was looking, I snuck out onto the track and did two laps around the raceway. The best part, we had already been stopped by a security guard (who we’ll refer to from here on out as Roscoe P. Coltrane). As soon as we came through the tunnel to actually enter the infield area, Roscoe immediately appeared out of nowhere, honking his horn to flag us down. One of the individuals in the vehicle, whom (in keeping with the Dukes of Hazzard theme) we’ll refer to as Cooter, got out of the car and gave the Obi-Wan Kenobi “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for” speech and “Richmond’s finest” let us go with the understanding we’d take a quick look at the track and get out of there.

Well, “we’re just the good ol’ boys, and we’re never meaning no harm,” so we slowly cruised near pit road holding the camera out the window looking all innocent and tourist-y. We figured if he stayed there watching us, we’d snap a couple shots and get out of there, but thankfully, Roscoe didn’t let us down. He inexplicably vanished during the five or so minutes we were playing possum and that’s when we got the brilliant idea — let’s go racing!

So I took one final peak behind us to see if “Richmond’s finest” was anywhere nearby and after verifying that the coast was clear, steered the vehicle out onto the track at turn one as I hit the accelerator. We did two glorious laps (hovering around 65 miles per hour) and pulled into the pits. A quick Chinese fire drill later, and my wife was now driving. She did one lap around the track (never going more than 45 mph because she was bouncing between terrified and euphoric) and as we came around turn three I spotted a familiar foe.

Seeing us on the track after his specific orders against doing so did not sit well with Roscoe, who at this point was hauling ass to cut us off at the end of pit road. As luck would have it, we were able to make a sharp turn back into the pits and quickly head back into the infield while he was still tearing down towards turn one. Two quick left turns and we were speeding through the tunnel and off the premises before our good buddy was able to radio for help. Had we not been fortunate enough to see him as soon as we did, there’s no doubt that this story ends differently — most likely with the phrase, “and that’s how I spent the weekend in jail, your honor.”

A special thanks goes out to my wife, Cooter and Cletus (who was kind/dumb enough to let us use his vehicle for our joy-riding adventure, so that when Richmond security watches the surveillance video they’ll have his plates, not mine). Now I understand why people love NASCAR.


remember the spartans

(photo by Brian Murphy)

I wanted to talk about another one of the Redskins rookies, a guy by the name of Devin Thomas, who was last seen tearing it up as a wide out for Michigan State.

Now, this is my fourth preseason covering the ‘Skins. Unfortunately for Thomas and the new guys, they have a much tougher schedule than other rookies faced in previous years. Take LaRon Landry and friends from a year ago. They had a rookie camp, so the first time I saw Landry he was easily the best player on the field. Today, we’re looking at the rookies, while they’re sharing the field with established veterans like Santana Moss, London Fletcher, and yes, Mr. Landry. That makes it a helluva lot harder for them to stand out. In my opinion, Devin Thomas was incredibly nervous in the early stages of his first NFL minicamp. Looking back at my photos, one can’t help but notice Thomas dropping more than a few catchable passes.

After the morning practice ended, I had a chance to talk one-on-one with Thomas and asked him to evaluate his showing in his first NFL minicamp.

“I feel like I did pretty good. I made some minor mistakes, but I think I can adjust to it and perform better in the second practice,” Thomas said.

The good news is, he was right. Thomas warmed up as the day went on and looked perfectly fine by the end of the day. In fact, Thomas made one of the two best plays of the day, by reaching back for a Sam Hollenbach pass that was thrown behind him and hauling in a beauty of a catch that earned cheers from his peers.

We might not be able to tell if Devin Thomas is going to be a Hall of Fame wide receiver in the National Football League after his first day, but we can get an idea of the character this kid has. He was upfront and honest in admitting he made some mistakes and knew he’d have to step it up or the coaches were going to be all over him.
He didn’t want to tell me how great he is, rather what he needed to do to improve. In the me-first world we live in, I’ll take that kind of player on my favorite team any day of the week.

Click here to listen to my interview with Devin Thomas.


getting to know malcolm kelly

Alright, I admit it. I was not doing cartwheels when the Redskins drafted Oklahoma wide receiver Malcolm Kelly with their third second-round pick in the 2008 NFL draft. In fact, in this very blog, I believe I compared him to Rod “Stone Hands” Gardner. This is the part where I’ll say that I possibly overreacted after hearing one too many stories about his less-than-stellar workouts and the comments made immediately following those workouts just before the draft. If he had never ran the 40-yard dash, and therefore never been labeled a problem child for his comments pertaining to those workouts, then all I would have had to go off of were some sweet highlights from his college days. He’s got a big body, he made some big-time catches for a big-time program and he has speed when it counts during gametime.

Compounding matters, one of the guys who I respect from the Redskins organization told me he’s dealt with Malcolm Kelly a couple times since he arrived in town and has been nothing but a pleasure to be around. So that settled it, if I only talked to one rookie on day one of the Redskins 2008 minicamp, I wanted to it to be Kelly. I wanted to get a feel for this kid and see for myself what he’s made of.

Right away he talked about getting the “day one jitters out” and came across completely humble. He also admitted that he’s going to have to concentrate more on running precise routes, because coaches at this level notice every single misstep you make. He ended the interview by promising me he’s going to “play hard every play, and never take a play off.” If you’d like to hear for yourself, here is the link for the full audio.

(photo by Brian Murphy)


what can phil do for you?

In football by b murf / May 2, 2008 / 1 Comment
(photo by Brian Murphy)

One of the most frequent questions I get asked is, “Which Redskins players are your favorite to talk to?” While I can always find time to chat with Fred Smoot, Marcus Washington, Chris Samuels, Casey Rabach and Anthony Montgomery, the player who is probably at the top of the list is defensive end Phillip Daniels. The 13-year veteran out of Georgia is so down-to-Earth and easy to talk to that half the time I don’t even bother to turn the recorder on. After three plus years of interaction, it feels like to buddies chatting more than a formal interview.

Take for example last year when I discovered that Daniels is the kind of iPods on the Redskins. If one of the new guys buys one and isn’t sure what to put on it, they basically hand it over to Phil and he takes care of them. I asked him to estimate how many teammates he’s had to take care of and he couldn’t even guess. That’s just the kind of guy he is.

So today, on the first day of minicamp, I was talking with some of the Redskins media relation folks and asked if they had seen the YouTube videos of Daniels deadlifting 600 lbs and squating 633 lbs. from a powerlifting competition back in March. I couldn’t remember the exact amounts he had lifted, so I’m pretty sure I actually asked them, “Did either of you see the video of Phillip Daniels powerlifting a Buick?” Once practice ended, I asked Phil exactly how much he had lifted and he told me “633.” Seriously, that’s ridiculous. Most powerlifters are short and squatty. Daniels is listed at 6’4″ and 276 lbs. Most football players are not good powerlifters, but then again, most football players who powerlift aren’t Phillip Daniels.
After getting the official number from him, he was grabbed by ComcastSportsnet for an interview and I snagged some other players. But it just so happened he and I finished up at the same time. As we were headed into the building we started chatting and I asked him when he’s going to help me get big like him. He immediately offered to put together a training regime for me, but said right away, “You can’t be half steppin’.” Basically, his message was if he’s going to do this for me, then I’ve got to commit to it. I told him I’m on the wrong side of 30 and am not trying to play in the NFL, I just want to keep in good shape, and then asked if he’d ever heard of the 300 workout. He hadn’t, so I told him briefly about the training the actors from 300 went through to look ripped for the movie.

Then we got to talking about him powerlifting and that’s when he told me he knows he can beat the 633 lbs. he squatted. Apparently he squatted 650 lbs. earlier in the day, but agreed not to try and overdue it during the competition. He’s going back to Illinois, where his wife shot the videos I linked to earlier, at the end of June and he plans on doing at least 650 lbs. then. His thought process is that he did that in March and is in even better shape now, so he feels like 700 lbs. is a reasonable goal. Considering that’s three and a half of me, needless to say I’ll be impressed when he does it. In fact, I’m saying it now — I fully believe he will do it. Good things happen to good people, and he’s the type of guy to put in the work to reach a crazy goal like that.


talent, credibility sold separately

(photo by Brian Murphy)

I need to up front and honest with you all, this relationship we have is not exclusive. Sure, I come out and tell you how great you are and that you’re the only readers for me, but the truth is — I’m a whore. I hate to admit it, but if you were unexpectedly drop by and check up on me one day, you’ve got a decent chance of catching me in the act with another website. In hopes of clearing the air, I figured it best to lay it all out there.

For starters, I got together with the guys from Skinscast to do a post-draft podcast. We take a pick-by-pick look at the Redskins draft and argue over how we think the team did. One bit of warning – for a guy called Homer, I was fairly pessimistic that night. But I guess that’s to be expected when the ‘Skins draft 37 pass catchers in one day.

In addition to the podcast, there’s my bi-weekly column on HoboTrashcan. This week, I take a moment to thank the Washington Wizards for somehow finding a way to raise the bar after the Redskins and Capitals respective playoff runs. And since the Redskins minicamp starts this weekend and we’re talking about HoboTrashcan, let me take a minute to direct you towards celebrity interviews with some of the most beloved players on the roster — Clinton Portis, Fred Smoot and Marcus Washington. Each of those interviews was from the 2007 season, but I think it’s reasonable to expect we’ll get some new ones this year once training camp gets going. Hopefully these will do until then.


trying to find a nut

Okay, so the last time I mentioned a D.C.-themed t-shirt on here, my buddy George ended up getting a not-so-subtle letter from “The Man” ordering him to shut down production. Hopefully, history will not repeat itself. One of my favorite Redskins fans, we’ll call him Joe, has designed two Sean Taylor Tribute shirts, which can be seen here. Regardless of the fact that I consider Joe a friend, I truly believe his work as a graphic designer is second to none, so go check them out and show him some support.

One word of caution, these t-shirts are only around for a limited time, so head over to Rogue Squirrel and pick them up now. Come football season you’ll make a lot of other ‘Skins fans jealous.

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