Ex-Pro Bowler can't hold back his tears

Ex-Pro Bowler can't hold back his tears

From Comcast SportsNetWASHINGTON (AP) -- Captain Chaos fought to hold back the tears.Chris Cooley, the longest-tenured player on the Washington Redskins and easily the team's most colorful character, was saying goodbye."I appreciate everything," Cooley said with a sniffle, his voice starting to waver. "I'm sorry. I'm a baby. I appreciate everything you guys have done for me. I guess, finally, just to say thank you to our fans. It's been great. Thank you."The Redskins released their two-time Pro Bowl tight end Tuesday, a few hours after creating some special teams chaos of their own by cutting kicker Graham Gano and replacing him with Billy Cundiff.Talk of field goal percentages quickly gave way to the stunning realization that No. 47 will no longer occupy his customary space near the back corner of the locker room."He helped me get comfortable with this team & this offense. He is a legend in my mind and will be missed. Thank You Chris Cooley," tweeted rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III -- and he's only known Cooley a few months.Coach Mike Shanahan said the decision came down to a matter of playing time. Fred Davis, who had a breakout year in 2011, has emerged as the new starting tight end, relegating Cooley to utility duty as a backup at both fullback and tight end during preseason."He wants to start. He wants to play," Shanahan said. "And we'll see if he gets that opportunity."Cooley did not take questions at the end of his impromptu speech to reporters. He said recently that he wanted to start, but that he was also at the point of his career that he wanted to win after missing the playoffs in six of his eight NFL seasons.Shanahan said Cooley's release wasn't about health or money. Cooley appeared in only five games last season after trying to play before sufficiently recovering from offseason left knee surgery."I thought he practiced well, he played well (in preseason), and I think he's got an opportunity to start in the National Football League," Shanahan said. "I think he's healthy."Cooley, whose Pro Bowl seasons came in 2007 and 2008, was also one of the most expensive players on the team, due 3.8 million in salary this year and 3.85 million in 2013."We never talked about a reduction," Shanahan said. "We never talked about anything like that. I'd never do that to a guy like him."Shanahan conceded that cutting Cooley is a "risky move" because Davis would be lost for the year for another violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy. Davis was suspended for the final four games of last season after failing a drug test.The coach didn't rule out having Cooley return if the 30-year-old tight end can't find a suitable team elsewhere.For his part, Cooley seemed unsure what to do with himself."I have every belief that I can play football," he said. "I have every belief that I can be not only a productive player but a starter in this league. I'm very confident in my abilities to continue to play the game. It would be a tough decision for me to put on another jersey. It's something that I really never had to imagine, so for now, I'll take some time and make sure what I do in the future is exactly what I want to do."Gano's release came one day after he appeared to win the kicking job, and two days after Cundiff was cut by the Baltimore Ravens.Gano had stood at his locker on Monday feeling excited and looking forward to the season after his lone competition in training camp, Neil Rackers, was sent packing when the Redskins made their first round of cuts.But Gano's numbers have never been impressive. He has made 73.8 percent of his field goal attempts since joining the Redskins (No. 25 in the AP Pro32) late in the 2009 season, the second-worst rate in the league over the past three seasons.Gano, 25, missed 11 attempts in 2010, tied for most in the NFL. He had a league-high 10 misses last season, although five of those were blocked. He beat out Rackers without attempting a field goal in the Redskins' preseason games, coming out ahead based on his performance during practice.Cundiff's statistics are only marginally better. The 32-year-old kicker has a career field goal rate of 76.7 with the Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints, Cleveland Browns and Baltimore. He joined the Ravens during the 2009 season and went to the Pro Bowl season in 2010, going 26 for 29, but last season he missed a potential game-tying, 32-yarder against the New England Patriots in the waning seconds of the AFC title game.Cundiff also has limited range. He is 5 for 19 over his career from 50-plus yards, including just 1 for 6 last season. He was cut Sunday by the Ravens, who opted to go with rookie Justin Tucker. The Redskins called as soon as Cundiff cleared waivers."It obviously was an interesting situation, and I think there's really no other way to put it," Cundiff said. "For me, obviously, a tug of emotions. When you start to see what I accomplished in Baltimore, and then to have the door kind of shown to me a little bit earlier than I thought -- then to have a team come up right away and say they'd like to have my services and they were going to make a move."Shanahan didn't offer much of an explanation for his kicker change."We just thought that was the best move for us at this time," the coach said.

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Film study: 1st All-NBA selection should be in John Wall's immediate future

Film study: 1st All-NBA selection should be in John Wall's immediate future

Kyle Lowry and Damian Lillard have made the All-NBA team before John Wall, and two years ago Kyrie Irving beat out the Wizards’ point guard when he didn’t really have the better individual season.

This year, Wall should reach his self-stated goal of being a four-time All-Star (accomplished) and first-time All-NBA player. It's just a question of if it'll be on the first, second or third team.

It’s not just about Wall's individual accomplishments – career highs of 23 points, 10.8 assists and 2.0 steals  – it’s his team’s success that should help him achieve that recognition. 

Saturday night, he dominated his matchup with Irving for the second time in three meetings and put on display why as a two-way player there's not much of a debate to be had about it. Irving, who plays next to LeBron James which inflates his credibility and his marks in the team success category, was voted the All-Star starter but if it were a spot that was solely merit-based Wall again was better this season.

He not only had game highs of 37 points and 11 assists in the 127-115 win for Washington, Wall isolated Irving in plain sight, posted him, shot over him and defended James himself 1 vs. 1 with tremendous success.

Wall is doing all of this despite coming off surgeries to both knees May 5 and a slow start to the season. His conditioning wasn’t always there. He still can gamble a lot defensively and allow the ball in the lane because he’s going for steals. He still can be better. 

When Wall is disciplined the way he was Saturday, not Irving, not Lillard, not Lowry, not Steph Curry and not even Russell Westbrook can be his peer on defense (Yes, Westbrook has a reputation for being a lockdown defender but there's ample evidence to show he's not and is in fact extremely undisciplined).

The Wizards (45-28) haven’t had an All-NBA player since Gilbert Arenas was second team in 2006-07 and third team in 2005-06 and 2004-05. Rod Strickland made it as a second-team selection for Washington in 1997-98.

And based on the way Wall's backcourt mate Bradley Beal is closing the season -- and being mistakenly omitted from his first All-Star apperance though he's no worse than the second-best shooting guard in the conference with DeMar DeRozan -- there's an argument to be made for him as All-NBA, too. Defensively, Beal has been more steady for longer stretches of the season than Wall.

Let's steamline the topic, however, and stay focused on Wall:

When isolated vs. Wall with no help, Irving has no chance of stopping Wall. Not good enough defensively and not nearly strong enough. And team defense isn't good, either, as Irving usually does  a lot of reaching in and getting lost on the weak side of the floor:

When is the last time you've ever seen Irving defend like this?

And for all Irving's talents, his speed and handle that produce an array of offensive moves, he usually creates for himself. Wall creates for others even when it appears he has nothing:

There's far more evidence than this and it goes beyond one game and one matchup. Irving will have his moments where he gets the better of Wall. If you're in a situation when you need one bucket with the game on the line like in Game 7 of the NBA Finals?

Irving is a better option than James in that situation. But he's still not a better player than James.

Over an 82-game season/big picture, this represents the primary differences between the two and why Wall deserves to be rewarded because he's just better of the two. And the same applies to many others who have gotten the recognition that Wall has not in his seventh season.

It's time.

MORE WIZARDS: Wizards sky high after dominating Cavs

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Don't believe trade hype: Bruce Allen insists Kirk Cousins will be Redskins quarterback in 2017

Don't believe trade hype: Bruce Allen insists Kirk Cousins will be Redskins quarterback in 2017

Kirk Cousins will be the Redskins quarterback in 2017. Period. At least that's the word from team president Bruce Allen.

"That's why we franchised him," Allen said of Cousins.

Asked about numerous trade rumors and reports on the Redskins single season passing record holder, Allen dismissed them all.

"I can't keep up with the rumors," Allen said. "Kirk and I have talked almost a dozen times this offseason, and we get to laugh when we hear these different rumors. We haven't talked to anyone."

MORE REDSKINS: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 6.0

Allen has spoken with Cousins representatives a number of times this offseason, and the organization still wants to get a long-term deal done with their passer. 

"Our goal from the beginning has been long-term," the team president said. "I'm still hopeful and confident we'll do it."

The team could again use a tag on Cousins, an option Allen mentioned. 

MORE REDSKINS: Exclusive: Allen answers questions on McCloughan firing