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Detroit shows Washington how it’s done by signing Stafford

By DERON SNYDER

Maybe you’ve heard the expression. Pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered.

The NFL version has a slight twist.

Quarterbacks get paid and … end of story.

Team president Bruce Allen last month insulted everyone’s intelligence – including his QB – by insisting that Washington offered Kirk Cousins “the highest fully guaranteed amount upon signing for a quarterback in NFL history ($53 million). Allen went on say the terms Cousins rejected “would have made him at least the second highest-paid player by average per year in NFL history.”

Allen’s statement wasn’t simply in poor taste, revealing specifics of a failed negotiation for a player still under contract. It was misleading, too, passing off money already committed to Cousins as part of the $53 million. Essentially, the Skins gave him an opportunity to sign for significantly less than he’ll likely command next year. What a deal!

Elsewhere, quarterback Matthew Stafford signed a five-year extension to remain with the Lions and Derek Carr re-upped for five years with the Raiders.

Your team is officially pathetic when Detroit and Oakland provide better examples of how to conduct business.

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State’s Attorney candidate Lyles gives back to Prince George’s County with major community event on Labor Day weekend

By HOWARD MANN

BOWIE, Md. – No one needs to tell Mike Lyles what it’s like to be vulnerable and victimized. That was his life as a young child raised by elderly godparents in Southeast DC.

“My 14-block walk to Catholic school – in uniform – proved to be a daily lesson in survival and negotiation,” says Lyles, Executive Director of the Prince George’s County Human Relations Commission and the top candidate for State’s Attorney. “Growing up like that gave me a deep understanding of violence’s impact in our community and the need for residents to feel safe at home, at work and on the street.”

To enhance the warm feelings associated with a safe, welcoming and nurturing community, he’s hosting “Mike Lyles’ Labor Day Family Cookout” on SUNDAY, SEPT 3, from noon to 4 p.m. The FREE event will be held at 106 Johnsberg Lane. There will be something for everyone, including face-painting for the children, a live DJ and the smooth sounds of Lyles’ band, “The Eye in We.”

More than 300 people and a number of elected officials, community leaders, business executives and candidates for office are expected to attend as Lyles – a former two-term Bowie City Council member and a nationally renowned expert on human trafficking – strives to become Angela Alsobrooks’ successor in the State’s Attorney Office. There also will be a voter registration drive, resource information for crime victims and more.

Lyles looks forward to exchanging ideas with residents and having a great time in this farewell to summer. It’s a way to give back and show where his heart lies.

“My commitment is to ensure that this wonderful county continues to be a safe place to live and raise a family,” he says. “To that end, I will tirelessly seek justice to ensure the safety of our residents, while also ensuring fairness for those charged with crimes.”

To learn more about his “Compassionate Justice” campaign and make a donation, visit www.votemikelyles.com.

NBA season can’t be as crazy as offseason, regardless of Irving trade

By DERON SNYDER

We thought the NBA offseason couldn’t get any juicer after the blockbuster trade between Cleveland and Boston, which followed a sea change of summer movement involving Jimmy Butler, Paul George, Chris Paul and others.

The Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas deal was unlike any in NBA history, with a potential league-wide ripple effect. The top two contenders in a conference don’t exchange All-Star players at the same position, especially the season after meeting in the conference finals. Players taken at opposite ends of a draft (Irving, first in 2011, and Thomas, dead-last the same year) aren’t traded for one another.

That’s crazy, right?

Maybe too crazy to materialize.

Cleveland received an impressive haul for its disgruntled point guard, netting Thomas, starter Jae Crowder, prospect Ante Zizcic and Brooklyn’s unprotected 2018 first-round pick. In theory, that package is enough to make LeBron James reconsider leaving Ohio, a relocation that’s widely presumed to occur after next season.

But now, everything is in limbo, reportedly because the Cavaliers don’t like the looks of Thomas’ hip. They might ask Boston to sweeten the deal, which could lead to a voided trade with everyone remaining in place.

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Wizards unmoved after Cavs-Celtics blockbuster trade

By DERON SNYDER

Trades like this week’s stunner, Cleveland and Boston swapping All-Star point guards rarely happen.

In one sense, it’s unprecedented: We’ve never seen the first player selected in a draft (Kyrie Irving, 2011) traded for the last player selected in the same draft (Isaiah Thomas). We also seldom see the top two contenders in a conference strike a deal that arguably makes their rival stronger.

It must be nice to live in an NBA market where GMs can pull off a swing-for-the-fences move that includes pair of stars, another starter, a prospect and a first-round pick. Yes, it’s OK to be jealous when your team’s biggest waves come from re-signing players and adding injury-prone questions marks from the discount bin.

Anyway, the big question isn’t whether Boston can repeat as the East’s No. 1 seed or Cleveland can repeat as conference champ. The more pressing concern is: “What’s all this mean for the Wizards.”

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Prep football is down but college and NFL are far from out

By DERON SNYDER

We might be ready to watch some football, but fewer and fewer prep students are gearing up to play.

According to a recent report by the National Federation of State High School Associations, the number of high school participants fell by 25,901 in 2016-17. Enrollment is down 4.5 percent over the past decade and schools in the Midwest and Northeast are dropping the sport at a startling rate.

However, the NFL doesn’t have anything to worry about as a new season approaches. Despite all the concerns about safety, concussions and long-term effects, and despite the high-profile instances of early retirements, we’re generations away from the point where a player shortage is remotely possible.

Our Fridays are suffering a bit. But our Sundays (and Saturdays) should be fine.

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No need to hurry in worrying about Washington, so relax for now

By DERON SNYDER

Let the hand-wringing begin. Furrowed brows are welcome, too. So is head shaking, tsk-tsking and muttering under your breath.

The $24 million quarterback and the coach with a two-year extension have failed miserably in leading Washington’s offense – the team’s clear strength – thus far through the preseason. Instead of resembling one of the league’s most high-powered units, the Skins’ starters have struggled to manage a measly first down. They move the chains as if moving mountains.

Their ineptitude has created mass consternation in some corners and outright panic in others. Doomsdayers see a worst-case scenario materializing with every errant pass and fruitless run. Critics who worried about the loss of offensive coordinator Sean McVay, along with 1,000-yard wideouts Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, are doubling down on fearful forecasts.

Where’s Aaron Rodgers when you need him?

The Green Bay quarterback didn’t stick around long Saturday night – going 6 of 8 for 37 yards and a touchdown on his only drive – but the prescription he wrote for the Packers faithful three years ago could be beneficial around these parts today.

He gave them five letters: R-E-L-A-X. Relax, he said. Everything is going to be OK. The assurance was issued to calm a fidgety fan base after Green Bay’s 1-2 start in 2014. The Packers finished at 12-4 and advanced to the NFC championship game.

At this point, it’s fair to ask if I’ve fallen and bumped my head.

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Singing the national anthem before games: Oh say can we stop?

By DERON SNYDER

The story is told of a man whose wife would cut off both ends of a ham before cooking it.

One day he asked why, and the wife said she got the habit from her mother. The husband questioned his mother-in-law, who said she got it from her mother. When the man finally queried his wife’s grandmother, the old lady reached into the cupboard and pulled out a timeworn pan.

“This was all I had to cook with,” she said. “The ham was always too large, so I’d cut off both ends.”

In some instances, we’re like the wife, performing rote tasks with no idea why. I’ve often thought the national anthem at sporting events falls in that category. I’ve asked the same question Yahoo’s Dan Wetzel posed this week in a thought-provoking column:

Why do we even play “The Star-Spangled Banner” before games?

If you thought the NFL killed this story by blackballing Colin Kaepernick, you since have learned otherwise. Oakland’s Marshawn Lynch and Seattle’s Michael Bennett sat out the anthem during preseason games last weekend, around the same time Klansmen, neo-Nazis and other white supremacists held demonstrations in Charlottesville, Va. The ensuing hatred and violence harkened back to clashes from the civil rights era a half-century ago.

“I’ve been thinking about sitting during the national anthem for a minute, especially after everything that’s been happening the last couple weeks,” Bennett said Tuesday in an as-told-to Yahoo article. “It’s just been so crazy right now, and I felt like the conversation wasn’t over. I felt like this needed to be a continuous thing that’s going on. I know it offends a lot of people, that’s why I kept it straightforward. I love America, I love hot dogs, I love everything about it.”

Some folks can’t grasp the concept of Bennett – or anyone – claiming to love America, yet choosing to sit during Francis Scott Key’s most-famous work. Critics see a disconnect.

But Bennett, Lynch, Kaepernick, Philadelphia’s Malcolm Jenkins (raised fist) and others, see the perfunctory performance as the perfect opportunity to move conversations from pride to introspection. That’s more than a lot of us can claim when “Oh say can you see …” gets started.

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Nationals dripping wet on slippery slope during rain delays

By DERON SNYDER

Baseball’s rain policy is all wet and no team this season has taken on more water than the Nationals.

I don’t know what it is about Washington and precipitation, but more than literal clouds hang over the franchise when showers loom. A reputation for postseason flame-outs apparently isn’t enough. The Nats are adding a measure of infamy for regular-season wash outs.

The team handles inclement weather the way Washingtonians drive in the snow – dreadfully.

The latest example occurred last weekend. To be fair, the Nationals weren’t liable for Saturday’s fiasco, when Bryce Harper narrowly escaped serious injury after torrential downpours and a three-hour rain delay. While running out a grounder in the first inning against San Francisco, Harper’s left foot slid off the base. He flew, twisting awkwardly and crashing to the ground. He grimaced and writhed, clutched his left knee and needed assistance to the dugout.

Undesirable combinations of letters flashed through our minds. ACL. MCL. DL.

The injury bug hasn’t merely bitten the Nats this season, it has tried swallowing them whole. But Harper received a fortunate diagnosis. “The good news is there’s no ligament or tendon damage, which is pretty remarkable in my mind just seeing the type of injury that he had,” general manager Mike Rizzo told reporters.  

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College football and college don’t mix for UCLA quarterback

By DERON SNYDER

In major college sports, the participants range from athletes who are students to students who are athletes. The ideal balance is found smack-dab in the middle, as rare and elusive as coaches who reject better jobs to keep their word to incoming recruits.

Nevermind that only a handful of college players advance to the pro ranks. NCAA Division I football is professional enough in its own right.

Ask UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen if you’re in doubt. In an interview Tuesday with Bleacher Report, he equated being a student and being a player to “trying to do two fulltime jobs.”

Rosen isn’t a stereotypical jock. He grew up rich with Ivy-League parents, a renowned surgeon and a journalist, the latter being a great-great-granddaughter of the founder of the Wharton School at Penn. He has spoken publicly of the advantages he enjoys by coming from an affluent, educated family.

So, Rosen’s take on the subject of major college football – “Human beings don’t belong in school with our schedules. No one in their right mind should have a football player’s schedule and go to school” – deserves our attention.

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HOF speeches prove that Kap is right and NFL owners are small

By DERON SNYDER

Shut up and stick to fill-in-the-blank.

For former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, it was acting.  For former Congressman Sonny Bono, it was singing. For former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley, it was basketball.

Why do some folks insist on placing others in a box that limits their expression? We turn to movies, music and sports as a form of escape, but asking performers to otherwise be silent is selfish. An inability to separate great scenes, riffs or plays from entertainers’ thoughts is a “you” problem.

Granted, enjoying the work of someone who committed heinous acts like sexual assault or domestic violence can be a struggle. That’s more understandable than rejecting the artistry of someone whose opinion on, say, police brutality or racial injustice, differs from yours. Some consumers might have a problem with any expression of thought (Blue Lives Matter?), but too often the resentment is caused by disagreement with expressed thoughts.

In that case, some football fans surely were unhappy with portions of the speeches Saturday during the Pro Football NFL Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Former San Diego Chargers halfback LaDainian Tomlinson had the nerve to talk about his great-great-great grandfather being a slave and how America should fulfill the promise of liberty and justice all.

Former Seattle Seahawks safety Kenny Easley went a step further. He devoted one minute of his 22-minute speech to a social stance that can get a player blackballed.

“Black lives do matter, and all lives matter, too,” Easley said. “… We’ve got to stand up as a country, as black Americans and fight the good fight to protect our youth and our American constitutional right not to die while driving or walking the streets black in America. It has to stop, and we can do it, and the lessons we learn in sports can help.”

Yes, sports can teach lessons. But that doesn’t guarantee we’ll pass the exams.

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