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Looking for bright side in Washington? This isn’t much, but here it is

DanSnyderCowboysBy DERON SNYDER

Another NFL season has come to a close in Washington, creating the annual void of football-filled Sundays.

Then again, the local team was extremely uncompetitive, again. Maybe it could win an Emmy nomination for “Best Comedy,” but it would probably lose that contest, too.

Good news is scarce when a team goes 4-12, but here it is: Washington isn’t the league’s worst team.

It’s not No. 1 but it’s not No. 32, either!

Dan Snyder’s outfit won twice as many games as Tennessee and also doubled Tampa Bay’s total in the win column. Yes, it needed a last-second field goal to beat the Titans and it was drubbed by the Buccaneers, but Washington still won as many games as those teams combined.

Washington also had more victories than Oakland (3-13). Granted, that isn’t saying much – the Raiders have averaged 4.6 wins per season since 2003 – but it’s more than could be said last year.

Jacksonville (3-13) also was no match for the locals, yielding 41 points at FedEx Field and losing 12 other games as well. Too bad the Jaguars couldn’t be the opponent 12 more times.

The New York Jets were equal record-wise, but Washington was better in the only way that counts at this subterranean level … getting the higher draft pick. The Jets earned the sixth overall selection, one slot behind the DC team. (A couple of early projections have Washington selecting Iowa tackle Brandon Scherff; at least he plays the right position if he’s not the right player.)

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Season-ending loss leaves Washington fans in a daze

redskinsfandazeBy DERON SNYDER

Walking to FedEx Field on Sunday afternoon – past the tailgaters with smoky grills, past the beanbag toss boards painted burgundy and gold or blue and silver, past the clusters of fans comingling in Washington and Dallas jerseys – you would think all is well if you didn’t know better.

One fan waved a broom at passersby in the visitors’ colors and pointed at a sign: “Sweep the Cowboys!” Another walked around hawking T-shirts that proclaimed Dallas “stinks” and quarterback Tony Romo is a slur that rhymes. But it was a very pleasant scene, almost surreal, aided by weather so mild that some fans wore short-sleeves.

Then the game started. Long before it was over, mercifully, at 44-17, reality set in and 50 percent of the crowd checked out.

Washington fans were numb by halftime and comatose by the end. They didn’t have enough energy to boo – and they were outnumbered to boot – by the time the from 10 points midway through the fourth quarter to 27 points with about two minutes left.

Fittingly for this franchise, there were flashes that might suggest success isn’t far off.

There was DeSean Jackson taking a simple receiver screen 69 yards for a touchdown and a 7-3 lead. There was halfback Roy Helu gaining 42 yard on the ground and 41 yards through the air. There was Pierre Garcon with a catch-and-run of 47 yards as Washington drove from its own 10-yard line to the Cowboys’ 7-yard line.

But quarterback Robert Griffin III threw an interception from the Cowboys’ 7. Most of  Helu’s yardage came in garbage time. And Jackson had just one other reception for 17 yards.

Meanwhile, the defense gave up 294 yards of offense in the first half, playing as if they – like the fans – also were anesthetized by 24 losses (en route to 25) the last two seasons.

No one can blame the Washington fan base if it’s dazed at this point. The back-to-back campaigns of 9-7 and 8-8 in 2007 and 2008 never looked better. Since then, aside from the aberrant 10-6 record in 2012 season, losses have numbered 12, 10, 11, 13 and 12.

Sometimes you wonder if the beatings have altered players’ sense of the wretchedness they’re part of.

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father-and-sonI had a dream the other night, haven’t you heard, 

     it’s a story about destiny, that’s my word

 In this story, children are well fed, their parents hardworking,

     their journey’s fulfilled, their peace undisturbed,

     love is abundant, that’s my word

Like doctors we pledge to do no harm and in addition,

     sound an alarm to those that aim to strip our voices and crush

     our humanity, we move with intensity to disarm

My dream does allow for free speech, different perspectives and

     multiple motivators, but the goal must be positive, the aim

      forward  thinking, the results tangible and all negativity held at bay

     and manageable

Words can sometimes be just that, but my dream involves other

     dreamers with ideas and skill sets of their own, thoughts

     that when intertwined with action, create a force that’s unstoppable

     and infallible

What I need now is more recruits, more resources and most of all

     more dedicated souls to ensure that our young nation can

 finally stop having their dreams deferred, that’s my word!

     – Warren Jay Lowe



Lowe_Warren2A native of Lackawanna, N.Y., outside of Buffalo, Lowe is a former public school teacher who was forced into retirement due to injuries sustained on the job during a student’s blindside attack. Now a freelance writer, he’s battling life-threatening heart failure while waiting for a transplant. Those who wish to assist – either monetarily or with encouraging words – may visit his page on Help HOPE Live. He can be reached at

Christmas showcase in New York to put Wizards on display

WizardsChristmasBy DERON SNYDER

Playing on Dec. 25 is a longstanding tradition for the New York Knicks, who in 1947 beat the Providence Steam Rollers at Madison Square Garden in the NBA’s first Christmas Day game.

The Knicks are gigawatts ahead of Washington in terms of franchise star power, glitz and magnetic pull on national broadcasts. But Washington is no slouch when it comes to playing on the day gifts are unwrapped, having been in 21 such games.

Only seven franchises have played in more, including New York, the all-time leader with 49 on Christmas Day. And Washington has been pretty good, too, going 14-7.

History and heritage won’t help the Knicks Thursday when they host the Wizards. New York is 22-27 overall on Dec. 25 and just 21-20 at home. Based on the team’s current makeup and trajectory, it will surprise no one if New York drops to .500 in Christmas games at the Garden.

Denizens would celebrate a .500 record at season’s end because the Knicks are dreadful. Only Philadelphia (4-23) has won fewer games than New York, 5-25, which is floundering in ways Phil Jackson didn’t imagine when he became team president in March.

“It’s about a loser’s mentality,” Jackson told reporters during a news conference earlier this month. “It’s not about the skill or the talent level.”

That sounds like the propaganda Washington fans were fed for most of this century, with just five seasons at .500 or better. Among the worst campaigns during that stretch was 2008-09, when the Wizards finished at 19-63.

That also marked the last time Washington played on Christmas Day, visiting Cleveland and losing its eighth straight game.

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Kentucky has been pretty good but aims for historically great

kentuckybasketballBy DERON SNYDER

A buzz went through the FedEx Field press box Saturday afternoon before Washington’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

There was an incredulous “What?” A few seats down, there came a quizzical “Are you serious?” From the back row, a hesitant “In men’s basketball?”

It was halftime of the Kentucky-UCLA game in Chicago and the score was 41-7.

That looks as unbelievable in print as it sounds when spoken.

John Calipari’s Wildcats treated Steve Alford’s Bruins like a ragtag collection of intramural rejects, not Division I’s 18th-best team in scoring. UCLA fell behind 24-0 at the outset as it shot 0-for-17 from the field. Nearly eight minutes elapsed before the Bruins got on the board.

UCLA lost the second half, too, 42-37, resulting in a worse-than-it-sounds final score of 83-44.

But it was the bulge at intermission that everyone talked about, except Calipari, who insisted he was unaware.

“I didn’t look at the score in the first half,” he told reporters in a postgame news conference. “I did not know what the score was. I knew it was pretty good.”

Kentucky has been pretty good all year, but it’s aiming for historically great.

No. 10 Kansas is pretty good. The Jayhawks lost to Kentucky by 32 points. No. 9 Texas finished within 12 points, the closest Kentucky has come to a scare (not counting a 10-point victory against Columbia) while compiling a 12-0 record.

The Wildcats are a unanimous No.1 in the Associated Press poll but failed to capture two of 31 first-place votes in the USA Today coaches poll (proving just how much some folks despise Calipari).

We don’t know Alford’s personal opinion of the man, but here’s what he said about the man’s squad.

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Washington’s win can’t mask stench of miserable season

eagles-redskins-football-jpeg-02a14_s877x585By DERON SNYDER

Christmas came early for Washington’s NFL team and its fans. They were able to unwrap a nice, shiny victory Saturday afternoon, not the lump of coal that Philadelphia was expected to deliver and add to the pile.

For at least one day – the first such since Oct. 27 – there was rejoicing in Washington’s locker room. There wouldn’t be a seventh consecutive defeat. There wouldn’t be back-to-back 13-loss seasons. There wouldn’t be another week of talking about everything that ails this franchise.

Not that the list has changed. Just that it can swept under the rug until the next contest.

“This week we had a little more success,” a relieved coach Jay Gruden said after Washington’s 27-21 victory at FedEx Field. “So you look like you play better when you win the game.”

The fact that it wasn’t a complete debacle – like many efforts of late – would’ve counted as a moral victory. But Washington has played at roughly Saturday’s level in several other games and come out losers. There’s something to be said about winning, period, whether it’s ugly, so-so or gorgeous.

Saturday was a bombshell at the end, with rookie cornerback Bashaud Breeland intercepting a pass from Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez to set up Kai Forbath’s game-winning field goal with 5 seconds left. Philadelphia appeared to be en route to breaking the tie moments earlier, as it marched from its own 15-yard line into Washington territory.

“There have been so many games recently where at that juncture, in the fourth quarter, we’re not even in it and don’t have an opportunity to win,” Washington  safety Ryan Clark said. “To be in the game and have the opportunity to make one play and get a win – I think guys were excited about that and accepted the challenge. It was new for us.”

The biggest question entering Saturday – and next week’s season-finale against the Dallas Cowboys – was level of effort. Would the team play hard and compete with nothing but pride on the line? The Eagles and Cowboys are battling for the NFC East title. Would Washington show any fight at all?

The answers came quickly and repeatedly.

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THE LOWE DOWN: Warning Signs

downlowewarningsignsBy WARREN LOWE

In light of the many violent confrontations between inner city police (primarily white) and young black males, much discussion has arisen as to whether or not warning signs existed that collisions would occur.

Many Americans see this is a valid question; however, those who were able to view this country from a ONE NATION, ONE RACE (HUMAN) UNDER GOD perspective, saw the warning signs many years ago.

For many years, children of our inner cities have had to weather the storm of peer violence/death in record numbers but America ignored their cries. Oftentimes the suspects and even the victims were looked upon as animals.

Their communities requested counseling, self-help centers, improved educational and developmental facilities but received NEW PRISONS INSTEAD! This attitude oftentimes prevails as long as the carnage remains in the city and let’s assume that these “cities” are occupied by African Americans.

In searching for optimism amidst the tragedies from young Mr. Till through Mr. King, Mr. Martin and Mr. Brown (to name a few) we must take certain steps to ensure that this merry-go round stops spinning out of control.

We must FIRST, spend more time getting reacquainted with our children, SECONDLY, we must realize that our society can only thrive when all of its citizens thrive. With that comes the understanding that suffering of one’s neighbor becomes the suffering of the neighborhood, if ignored.

It is time that we begin to check our problems at the door, regardless of whose community they first arise in. The youth of today are in a crisis and rightfully so. They have been left to fend for themselves and during that time, many evils stepped in to babysit.

Our children must feel secure and know they’ll be heard. When this is done, we can attack the root of the problem which is pain, loneliness, lack of self-esteem and failure to fit in, to name a few.

Our children are reaching out to gain a sense of belonging and whether it’s the “Bloods”, “Crips” or “Trenchcoat Mafia”, the result is the same. SAME ROOT, SAME TREE, SAME FRUIT!

In this case, the fruit is senseless violence.


Lowe_Warren2A native of Lackawanna, N.Y., outside of Buffalo, Lowe is a former public school teacher who was forced into retirement due to injuries sustained on the job during a student’s blindside attack. Now a freelance writer, he’s battling life-threatening heart failure while waiting for a transplant. Those who wish to assist – either monetarily or with encouraging words – may visit his page on Help HOPE Live. He can be reached at

RG3, Jay Gruden saga takes another unexpected twist


Here we go. Quiet on the set.

“Take 5! Robert Griffin III, Washington’s would-be franchise QB … action!”

Or is this Take 6? It’s hard to keep count.

In any case, RG3 has resumed his star role for Washington’s final two games this season, which presumably will end the dramatic portion of 2014 (the competitive portion never began).

He has been battered in the public eye as much as in the pocket, bringing both beatings upon himself in some measure. But with Colt McCoy being placed on the injured reserve list, Griffin has a prime opportunity to win back support with a strong showing against Philadelphia on Saturday and Dallas on Dec. 28.

We can only hope his psyche hasn’t suffered the same damage as his body.

“God has blessed me with a lot of mental toughness to be able to deal with all this stuff,” Griffin said during his news conference on Tuesday. “Just having the right people around me, the right people to talk to, it’s been very, very helpful going through this process. So I am in a great place mentally. I just want to play football.”

Unfortunately, he has neither played enough football nor played it well enough to inspire confidence. The two remaining games won’t provide conclusive proof one way or another. They just represent the next take.

Take 2 was abysmal, when he returned from major knee surgery and led Washington to a 3-10 record in 2013 before Mike Shanahan shut him down. (If Shanahan had made that decision at halftime of the playoff game against Seattle … never mind).

Everything was supposed to be rosy for Take 3. The new director, coach Jay Gruden, was hired to remake RG3 into the leading man who caused folks to swoon in 2012.

But the magic was missing through all the rehearsal games and the season premiere at Houston. There was a brief spark the following week, against Jacksonville, but his left ankle was dislocated early in the second quarter and he missed the next six games.

Gruden’s preference for the understudies became apparent during that time. Griffin might have been done for the season, but Kirk Cousins hung his head and threw away his shot, while McCoy lacked time to perhaps strengthen his grip on the role.

Otherwise, Griffin’s next scene might have occurred in a different uniform.

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Saunders could flip out wondering what could’ve been with Wizards


The Wizards have flipped the script on the NBA.

But the transformation occurred way too late to help Flip.

Minnesota coach Flip Saunders will hardly recognize what he sees when the Timberwolves hit the court Tuesday night at Verizon Center.

The home team will be among the league’s best, overall and in sending off visitors with defeats. The crowd will be engaged and energized, helping to create a true advantage for the hosts. The media will be positive and optimistic, speculating about the Wizards’ chances this season and over the next several years.

No one can blame Saunders for soaking it all in and wondering: “What if?”

The situation is nothing like it was three years ago when he coached the Wizards and was fired after a 2-15 start. He had gone 49-114 in two seasons with Washington and the franchise was headed toward another abysmal record (20-46) in the lockout-shortened campaign.

Saunders landed what he thought was a pretty good situation in 2009, signing to coach a Wizards team just one season removed from four consecutive playoff appearances. But his hopes for a successful stint in D.C. ended on Jan. 6, 2010, when NBA commissioner David Stern suspended Gilbert Arenas indefinitely for bringing guns into the Wizards locker room.

That incident prompted the breakup of the Wizards’ core, as Antawn Jamison, Brendan Haywood and Caron Butler were jettisoned. The team entered The Knucklehead Era, with Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee and Nick Young becoming the principal characters/culprits.

We all know how that worked out.

Saunders couldn’t survive the bad hand he was dealt and the dealer didn’t improve until Saunders was gone. That’s when president Ernie Grunfeld demolished the run-down roster he constructed and – shockingly – engineered an effective rebuild. He surrounded John Wall with Bradley Beal, Nene, Marcin Gortat, Martell Webster and other players who helped the Wizards reach the Eastern Conference semifinals last season.

After spending time as an ESPN analyst, Saunders has returned to the team that gave him his first NBA head coach job. Except for also being Minnesota’s president of basketball operations, he finds himself in a situation similar to the one he left in Washington: His team is 5-18 entering Tuesday’s game.

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No other big-time rivalry, college or pro, is quite like Army-Navy

army-navy-footballBy DERON SNYDER

BALTIMORE – In a major way, the 115th rendition of Army-Navy was like the first 114 meetings, because it was more than just a game.

On the field, though, it resembled the previous 13 contests in the only way that matters; Navy extended it series-record win streak Saturday with a 17-10 victory.

The outcome at MT&T Stadium disappointed the Black Knights and their followers, who must endure another year of ribbing from the Midshipmen family. Army hasn’t had the last word since it capped Navy’s 0-10 season in 2001, one month before George W. Bush was sworn in as president.

But an event earlier that year – hijacked jetliners crashing in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania – reminded us that the Army-Navy rivalry is unparalleled in all of sports. Its beats anything that college offers, in addition to Yankees-Red Sox, Lakers-Celtics, Cowboys-Washington or you name it.

It’s easy to become jaded watching Alabama-Auburn, Michigan-Ohio State, Oklahoma-Texas and other noted football clashes each year. Even if you believe those athletes are inadequately compensated for their time and trouble, you know they’re enjoying at least some fruit from a million-dollar industry. You also know they’re free to pursue whatever they chose when their college days end.

That’s not the case with players in the Army-Navy series, who have five-year military commitments awaiting after graduation. The solemn nature of their pledge is drummed in when the Corps of Cadets and the Brigade of Midshipmen, dressed in their gray and blue uniforms, respectively, march onto the field during pre-game ceremonies.

If you don’t feel a surge of emotion watching those young men and women representing their service academies and their country with pride, then something is wrong with your wiring.

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