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The highlight of last night’s lousy BCS game was the Gatorade shower gone awry. Alabama coach Nick Saban almost went down after taking a huge hit from two surely former players who ran into him with a tub full of beverage.
Local football fans already knew how dangerous the Gatorade shower can be: That’s what killed Bruce Allen‘s dad, former Redskins Coach George Allen.
(AFTER THE JUMP: Can Mike Shanahan make “mastermind” good again? All the Redskins losses are bad for the bars? The great Dave Kindred loves the Washington Times? And shows his love by slamming the Washington Post? Didn’t Dave Kindred work for the Washington Post? Didn’t Dave Kindred write a book about the Washington Post? Isn’t Dave Kindred right about the Washington Post? Caron Butler has a stuck-up coat drive? Caron Butler hasn’t heard Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors”? Maryland Governor declares big day for one of state’s football teams?)
One good thing about the signing of Mike Shanahan: We now have a chance to rescue “mastermind” from the bad guys.
Ever since 9/11, I’ve only seen “mastermind” used in relation to somebody behind a bad deed.
Every mention of Osama bin Laden is accompanied by “mastermind,” for example. Khalid Sheik Mohammed is a “confessed mastermind”—-hell, in the old days, who wouldn’t confess to that? By now pretty much everybody else with an Islamic-sounding name has also been labeled as a “mastermind” for some sort of evil-doing. It’s trickled down so far that even Iraqi grandmother Samira al-Jassem earned the “mastermind” tag after being accused of involvement in Baghdad bombings. I’m sure somebody’s already called the guy who put a cherry bomb in his underwear a mastermind. Remember: If we only use “mastermind” with terrorists, only terrorists will be masterminds.
Now Shanahan can bring benevolence back to the word. His nickname while coaching the Denver Broncos to Super Bowl wins in the 1990s was “The Mastermind.” That used to be a cool nickname.
One more Super Bowl, Mike, and it’ll be cool again.
On the day that Dan Snyder hired Shanahan and allegedly turned over a new leaf, a big black truck was spotted cruising around Bethesda slamming everybody’s least favorite sports owner. Big commercial magnets on the vehicle touted “Redskin Fans Against Dan Snyder” and urged locals to join in an anti-Snyder movement on Facebook.
“Yeah, that’s my truck,” says Alan Pohoryles. He’s the founder of RFADS, a group hoping to depose Snyder that Pohoryles says he concocted after the Skins’ loss to Kansas City early in the 2009 season, one of the year’s many debacles.
Pohoryles and his group got a lot of media attention right away, as the vitriol against the owner inspired a protest-laden Prague Spring for Redskins fans. Eventually 14,000 fans signed up with RFADS, he says.
But things have slowed down quite a bit since Snyder got rid of Vinny Cerrato. And with the arrival of big guns Allen and Shanahan, much of Redskins Nation has given up the fight and reverted to the same sort of postseason hopefulness that Snyder has inspired and exploited since taking over the team in 1999.
“I’m going to keep [the anti-Snyder magnets] on the truck,” he says. “Nobody’s asked me to take them down this week. I’d love to believe [Snyder] that he’s going to let Shanahan and Allen do their job. And if he really does that I’ll shut down the group. But it’s just really hard to believe that he is. His ego will get the best of him and he’ll probably continue to stick his nose where it doesn’t belong. We’ve been through all this before.”
Along with being a Snyder basher, Pohoryles owns Tommy Joe’s, a Bethesda bar. He says Snyder’s tenure as owner has hurt him as a fan and a businessman.
“I remember how full the bars around here would get when the Redskins were good,” he says. “They’re not like that anymore.”
Dave Kindred puts together “Fifty more dos and don’ts on sportswriting” for the blog of Indiana University’s National Sports Journalism Center. Some of Kindred’s tips are old-school gold. Among my faves:
“33. Never trust a high school program’s spellings.”
Wait? There was a time when spelling mattered? Oh, right…
But a couple other tips stand out for another reason. Kindred, who’s really, really nice, uses two tips to praise the Washington Times‘ defunct sports section, but he takes breaks while doling out that praise to throw haymakers at the Washington Post‘s.
22. Do what the Times did, tell us the emperor has no clothes. When I moved to the Washington area 12 years ago I was as near to the ordinary reader as I ever will be. This ordinary reader saw a difference between the sports sections of the Times and The Washington Post, especially in coverage of the Redskins. The Post genuflected at the feet of the boy emperor, Dan Snyder. The Times saw him as a football incompetent. Dan Daly first cast Snyder as a fantasy-football owner eager to collect big names. Daly wrote, “Whether or not it helps the Redskins get to the Super Bowl, signing Deion Sanders sure looks good. Just as signing Bruce Smith, Mark Carrier and Jeff George looked good. We have entered the Age of Appearances at Redskin Park. A player acquisition is only as good as its buzz – and buzz emanates, at least in part, from reputation and name recognition and things that don’t have anything to do with winning football games.”
23 When you nail the truth, keep it nailed. Dan Daly did that for a decade of Snyder’s failures. His colleagues Dave Elfin and Rick Snider beat the Post so often with such effectiveness that even an ordinary reader came to believe that the bigger paper avoided stories that would irritate the boy emperor.
These slams are powerful, since Kindred’s career as one of the best sportswriters in the history of history includes a long stint as a Washington Post columnist.
He wrote one of the most famous sports columns in the paper’s history. Check out his lede for a column previewing the 1983 Redskins-Dolphins Super Bowl, published on the morning of the game:
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 29 — Make it Washington 27, Miami 17.
Half a day after that column hit the streets, the Skins beat the Dolphins, 27-17. Yup, Kindred called the game down to the exact score. ‘Course, he could write at least as good as he could tout Super Bowls. Kindred has just finished a book about his old paper, Morning Miracle: Inside the Washington Post, which is scheduled to come out in July.
And that makes his recent anti-Post sorties all the odder. ‘Course, if Kindred’s slams about the Post‘s sucking up to Snyder only apply to the George Solomon years, then, hell, truth is a fine defense.
(Full disclosure: I freelance music reviews for the Washington Post, and in 2000 got fired by Solomon, who I really like, from a weekly gig covering horse racing for the paper’s sports section for writing a column in Washington City Paper about Tony Kornheiser.)
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has declared today Purple Friday throughout the state, in honor of the Ravens’ upcoming playoff appearance. There is, of course, another NFL team that plays its games in O’Malley’s jurisdiction. And since he grew up in the D.C. area and went to high school at Gonzaga, he’d probably love to have decreed that public servants working under him wear Redskins colors, and to turn the state’s official Web site into those shades, as he’s done today for Baltimore’s team. Alas, O’Malley never got the chance to authorize a maroon-and-black day…
While teammates are playing dangerous games and throwing away their careers, Caron Butler, he of the Wizards Big Three Two, still puts his name to good things. Last month he sponsored a charity basketball tournament at Coolidge. This weekend, Butler gets behind “Caron’s Coats for Kids Drive,” the fourth such coat collection effort in his years as a Wizard. Folks who bring a coat to the Verizon Center on Sunday will get a pass to meet Butler after that day’s game with New Orleans. I gotta say, there is one sorta off-putting thing about this event: Only “brand new coats” will be accepted, according to organizers, with “brand new” being put in quotes and underlined throughout the announcement whenever coats are mentioned.
I’ve never put on a charity drive like this or done anything nice for anybody, so I guess these things attract clowns who turn in useless crap to get freebies in return, but, still: Who has “brand new children’s coats” lying around?
If this is really to help “local school children” who are in trouble, why wouldn’t you just take every damn coat? Haven’t these people heard Dolly Parton‘s “Coat of Many Colors”?
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