The P Word
The dirtiest word around Redskins Park begins with a P and has 10 letters.
Don't even whisper it.
On the surface, it's a harmless, innocuous, pedestrian collection of sounds, but say it around Joe Gibbs and watch the man immediately perk up. Utter at your own risk. It's already become pretty clear that the sky high local expectations for the Skins iare going to create a verbal minefield for us media schlubs to dance around.
Gibbs is not making predictions for the 2006 season. In case you may have missed it, his players are not making any predictions, either. And trust me, he's reading everything they say very closely.
The other day a radio reporter asked Coach about Mark Brunell's comments from the first day of training camp about anything less than a trip to a Super Bowl being a disappointment. Said reporter made the mistake of using the P word when asking for a reaction to Brunell's statements, and Joe jumped in right there, mid-query. Coach Joe pointed out that the QB had in fact made no prediction - and rightly so - but a nerve had been struck. This is becoming sensitive stuff. For a brief moment, it seemed like the Hall of Famer might get on a rant. I never feared it would reach the level of that Monday press conference before the San Francisco game last season - you remember, the one after Kornheiser called the 49ers chopped liver and rightly called for a Redskins blowout win - but I sensed we might be heading in the direction.
This prediction/expectation business is going to be tricky. Anyone can understand why Coach Joe would want to control this situation and keep expectations under check. But after the finish to last season, and another offseason of setting NFL spending records - for coaches and players alike - including loading up on millionaires at the same position in some cases (WR), of course the fans, deprived of a quality product for so long, would think Super Bowl or bust, too. The reality of the situation is somewhere between those extremes, I suppose, considering the minute margin of victory in most NFL games, the strength of the NFC East and the fact that injuries can derail a season faster than Mel Gibson can fill up an arrest report ...
And we're not going to escape this one anytime soon. That's life in the NFL fishbowl. A hot start, and the city is on the bandwagon with a spare engine in the trunk and two kegs in the backseat. A tepid beginning, and it's all doom and gloom. Bottom line is you have to hold this team to a high standard after coming within a few plays of reaching the NFC Championship Game last season. Can they be successful without winning it all? Certainly. Would another divisional playoff defeat be grounds for anger and consternation?
You guys tell me.
Morning practice update: Cornerback Carlos Rogers did not participate due to back spasms, but Bubba says it's nothing major. We'll see if he's with the team for full pads tonight. My partner Howard Bryant's fav new player, tight end Christian Fauria, didn't practice either. Haven't had a chance to find out what's ailing him yet, but it seemed minor considering he was still taking part in some drills out of uniform. When I get a chance to grab Bubba I'll post an update in a comment on the blog or something ...
I know we've only just begun to date, and I really don't know you guys all that well yet, but I'm already throwing down the gauntlet. How about a contest for who can come up with the best Skins chant, soccer-style? For the uninformed, go to pretty much any European or Latin American soccer game and you'll hear a relentless roar of chants, many of them directed at a particular player and sung to the cadence of a widely known song. Standard chants can relate to a player's hometown, his looks, something he does particularly well, or just about anything. Most creative chant wins something - I'm willing to listen to suggestions for the prize as well - and I'm not talking something like, "There's only one Sean Taylor; there's only one Sean Taylor, sung to the tune of "Guantanamera." ...
If you make it out to training camp, try to keep an eye on the kids who are stationed beneath the huge cranes (they're called Cherry Pickers, I guess? Should I have known that? Is that on the average metrosexual's radar?). The Pickers hold the camera crews shooting practice for the coaches. When the camera dudes run out of film they wrap the reels up in a bag, tape it, then it's bombs away. They drop the packages straight down from 60 feet (I actually checked on the height), and you can imagine there's some velocity involved here. Believe it or not, most of the time the teenager at the other end seems to make the grab. I, meantime, discerned long ago not to walk too close to those cranes, because if you ain't paying attention you'll be on the fast golf cart to Bubba's ...
Fausto Carmona, the check is in the mail. God, I love this guy. He'd be the perfect replacement for the Yanks when Mariano Rivera hangs up the mitt. Was listening to the 9th inning of the Sox/Tribe game on the radio on my way home from The Park last night and nearly swerved off of 495. Good stuff, but my boys are still doomed, I fear ... Someone asked about media grub out here the other day. Well, I've got to hand it to Skins PR, they've been a big help this camp and, on Monday to my surprise, in one corner of the newly refurbished media room there were cold cuts, chicken wings, a veggie plate and meatballs all giving me that come hither look. Tuesday morning there were bagels, fruit, English muffins, croissants and other goodies. And, most importantly, they've been great about having lots of water available for us out on the field at practice. Much appreciated guys ...
Okay, back to work. We've got a meeting with NFL officials to discuss the rule changes at 1 pm, and I hope we get Hochuli again like we did a few years ago. I'm dying to ask him if he can kill a man with his bare hands.
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