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Manning benching not nothing, but not everything folks making it



In Kansas City, some folks are suggesting it’s time to replace quarterback Alex Smith with rookie Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs are in the playoff hunt but have lost four of their last five games.

In Buffalo, questions linger about the decision to bench quarterback Tyrod Taylor for rookie Nathan Peterman. The Bills remain in postseason contention but gave away a game with Peterman’s five-pick start.

In New York, blistering criticism flooded the airwaves and cyberspace Tuesday after a quarterback change was announced. The Giants, going nowhere at 2-9, decided to proceed without Eli Manning under center.

What’s the controversy there?

I understand that no position receives as much scrutiny, acclaim and blame as quarterback. I realize that Manning has won two Super Bowls and his family is NFL royalty. I know he’s a fixture in the Big Apple with 210 consecutive starts since November 2004.

But I’m confused by claims that the Giants are mistreating Manning by making a move now. Is it because Geno Smith and rookie Davis Webb will play instead? Is it that Manning represents the best chance to win? Was the team simply supposed to let the veteran ride out the string?

The only argument that halfway makes sense is this: New York stinks with him and will stink without him, and if that’s the case, he might as well finish the season.

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The carousel fires up each year and we can’t wait to see where it ends



College coaching carousels are fascinating to behold, a sport within sports.

Maybe it’s the public nature of job openings that often materialize after rampant speculation. The list of hot prospects and rumored candidates are intriguing as well. So too is the debate in defining great jobs vs. good jobs vs. lousy jobs. The high salaries involved don’t hurt, either.

A lot of mid-major coaches can’t be picky when opportunities arise within a Power Conference. Moving up often offsets any deficiencies found at the new school.

But the most sought-after up-and-comers can turn down overtures from lesser outposts, waiting a few years for destination jobs.

That’s especially true in basketball. This season, Archie Miller has the reins at Indiana after six seasons at Dayton, which he led to the last four NCAA tournaments. Two years ago, Shaka Smart was the nation’s most-coveted mid-major hoops coach after taking VCU to five consecutive NCAA tournaments, including a Final Four. He parlayed that success into the Texas job.

Dayton and VCU have become veritable launchpads. Miller is the third consecutive Flyers coach who left for a Power Conference. Will Wade, now in his inaugural season at LSU, is the forth consecutive Rams coach to make the leap.

But whereas 68 coaches reach basketball’s Big Dance each season, the stakes are higher in football. Only four teams reach the College Football Playoff. Another eight teams are slotted in the remaining “major bowls.”

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For DC’s NFL team, jokes extend beyond the field, to the field itself



It’s not bad enough that Washington’s last back-to-back playoff appearances were 1991-92.

It’s not bad enough that the franchise has won 10 games just three times since Dan Snyder’s purchase in1999.

It’s not bad enough that poor personnel decisions affecting the front office and roster have made the team a laughingstock since the last playoff victory (2005).

Instead of letting that sorry litany speak for itself in solidifying their reputation for ineptitude, the Skins insisted on going a step further. They used a stunning, visual display Thanksgiving night to hammer the point for a national TV audience.

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Giants-Skins snoozer was about more than just tryptophan



LANDOVER – Where’s the flex schedule when you need it?

I know, I know. It would never work for Thanksgiving. The NFL only switches games scheduled for Sunday, moving them in or out of the primetime window based on their appeal. Games slated for Thursday, Saturday or Monday are ineligible.

Besides, NFL fans have suffered through decades of mostly lousy Lions football on Thanksgiving.

We couldn’t expect the league to react just because Washington’s first-ever home game on the holiday was as appealing as weeks-old mac-n-cheese left on the counter.

But if ever a game didn’t warrant infringing on our collective Turkey Day, it was Washington’s 20-10 victory against the New York Giants.

This isn’t Detroit or Dallas, where generations of fans have grown up with the custom and turned it into a ritual. I suspect most of us would be perfectly fine if the Skins never played a home game on the fourth Thursday of November.

For the majority of the evening, both teams appeared lukewarm to being there as well.

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Attitude of gratitude: Giving thanks for Embiid, Kyrie, Kaep & more



Birthdays are the most common method for noting our individual orbits around the sun.

Collectively, we reflect and celebrate our treks when New Year’s Eve slides into New Year’s Day.

While I certainly rejoice on those occasions, Thanksgiving has become just as meaningful. Gathering with family has a lot to do with that, recognizing we survived another 52 weeks and remembering those who didn’t.

The next holiday isn’t guaranteed for any of us.

So, when I’m blessed with the opportunity to express gratitude on the fourth Thursday of November each year, it carries special significance. Especially with Vanessa, Sierra and Sequoia by my side. With food, clothing and shelter to address my physical needs. With family, friends and loved ones to meet my emotional needs.

And I can’t forget about sports. The industry has provided entertainment for as long as I can remember, and employment throughout my adult life.

With that said, I’m thankful:


I understand setting the bar high. But the league got full of itself in attempting to generate $25 billion a year by 2027. It showed disdain for fans (full-price tickets for exhibitions), players (a full slate of Thursday games) and advertisers (an increasingly sloppy product). Having POTUS pick on you as TV ratings decline doesn’t help.

Karma is no joke.

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Washington did it before, can do it again



No, Washington doesn’t scare any of its remaining opponents.

But the feeling is mutual when looking at the schedule. The Skins have every reason to believe a 10-6 record is possible, which would keep their faint playoff hopes alive.

Six-game winning streaks don’t come easy. The difference between victory and defeat can be razor-thin in the NFL.

Hanging on for touchdown catches in the end zone. Intercepting a pass on last-gasp drives. Gaining half-a-yard on third-and-1 situations.

Odds are that Washington will lose a game down the stretch. But we can’t always trust the odds, as evidenced by the Skins’ 99.6 chance of winning in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game before New Orleans rallied.

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Still in shock after Washington lets win slip away against New Orleans



Washington wasn’t supposed to win Sunday’s game at New Orleans.

Washington didn’t win Sunday’s game at New Orleans.

We’re exactly where we expected to be, staring at a 4-6 team with playoff hopes on life support.

But we’re in shock nonetheless.

The Saints’ 34-31 overtime victory delivered the cruelest type of loss, improbable victory morphing into undeniable defeat in the closing moments. Watching the events unfold over the final few minutes felt like an out-of-body experience. Or was it déjà vu?

Either way, it was a nightmare scenario.

The Skins couldn’t make a stop on defense during New Orleans’ last three possessions, including the game-winning drive in overtime. This wasn’t Case Keenum impersonating Drew Brees; Washington was dissected by the real deal. The Saints’ future Hall-of-Famer completed 12-of-12 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns in the final 5:58 of regulation.

“It stings a lot of people,” coach Jay Gruden told reporters. “It stings everybody involved with the Washington Redskins, that’s for sure. We just have to bounce back.”

If there’s any spring left.

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Success a snap for Harris of Atlanta Falcons & Auburn University



The initials that indicate football positions are well known. QB for quarterback and LB for linebacker. DE for defensive end and WR for wide receiver. P for punter and K for kicker. But if you want a good way to stump some folks, ask them what LS stands for.

And if you want a good way to irritate some youth players, ask them to fill the overlooked position.

“Typically, the long snapper isn’t something anyone aspires to be,” says the Atlanta Falcons’ Josh Harris (Auburn). “I have no idea why my Pop Warner coach picked me. Frankly, I wasn’t thrilled when he said I was going to be the long snapper. He demonstrated it one time and I got down into that stance and tried to throw the best spiral I could.

“Now I’m very thankful he put me in that position.” Harris has much to be grateful for. Perfecting the art of snapping footballs up to 15 yards through his legs allowed him to experience two childhood dreams. That’s two more than he imagined possible as he left high school for college.

Harris was a three-sport athlete, a wrestler who played football and baseball in Carrollton, Ga., about 45 minutes west of Atlanta. He didn’t garner much interest as a linebacker and defensive end. But one of his assistant coaches realized Harris had a gift for snapping and suggested that he walk on at a major college.

Choosing the school was easy because he grew up as a huge Auburn fan. A slew of relatives had attended, including his grandfather James Morrow, a member of Auburn’s 1957 national championship team. Still, Harris wasn’t crazy about the idea.

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Crump convinced that Lyles is best choice for State’s Attorney



GLENN DALE – Attorney Benjamin Crump, nationally renowned for his work in social justice cases involving Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown Jr., and Tamir Rice, among others, had a warning Saturday for his audience at Glenn Dale Golf Club.

“My heart tells me if we don’t do all we can to get Mike Lyles elected as the State’s Attorney for Prince George’s County, the next day after the election and every day after that we will regret it,” Crump said at a Team Lyles event. “We’ll look in the mirror and say we wish we had done more. We don’t want to live in regret.”

He expressed his belief that Lyles is the best person for the job. The two worked together in the past, within the National Bar Association and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Crump said he didn’t mind forgoing sleep Friday and catching a pre-dawn flight in order to arrive on time.

“We really need people like Mike for due process of the law and fair administration of justice,” he said.

Crump said his experience on high-profile cases with massive media coverage illustrate the importance of the State’s Attorney Office. Having the right person serve as a jurisdiction’s top prosecutor is vitally important to ensure justice isn’t denied. Crump has seen that happen too many times, whether it’s guilty parties getting off or minor offenders being hammered.

“We’re here for Mike because we know he won’t treat your children any differently than he would treat anybody else’s child, no matter what race, ethnicity, class or status,” Crump said. “Mike is a person who understands civil rights because that’s what he’s been doing as director of the Prince George’s County’s Human Rights Commission. He knows what it means to fight for civil rights.”

Lyles, a former two-term Bowie City Council member with more than 20 years of law practice in and out of government, also serves as co-chair of the Prince George’s County Human Trafficking Task Force. In that capacity, he played a vital role in the county securing a $1.3 million grant last month from the Department of Justice.

“I don’t want you to elect me because you know me as a friend,” Lyles told the audience. “I want you to elect me because I have a track record of doing what I say and making things work the way they should work.”

Hate AND Appreciate: Grayson Allen makes it fun again for Duke



Hate is a strong word, used only figuratively in this space because the emotion means something else in a sports sense. It’s not true, genuine animosity toward certain athletes or teams; it’s a fun, almost-healthy feeling that makes watching sports more engaging.

With that said: I hate Grayson Allen and Duke.

I never embraced that before, but it feels good to say it out loud.

Allen follows a long line of Duke basketball players who earned distinction among the nation’s most-loathed hoopsters. There was Christian Laettner – the granddaddy of them all – plus J.J. Redick, Greg Paulus, Steve Wojciechowski, Gerald Henderson, Shane Battier and the list goes on.

It’s a wonder Tyler Hansbrough didn’t suit up for the Blue Devils.

My enmity toward the program is based on its impression as a smug and conceited group that suffers from an acute superiority complex. They probably contracted the virus from coach Mike Krzyzewski, though it’s understandable how five national titles might have that effect on a person.

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