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FINLAY: A lifetime of football, helped shaped by Dad


FINLAY: A lifetime of football, helped shaped by Dad

Never rooted for the Steelers in my life. Didn’t hate them, but as a kid, they just weren’t much on my radar. Their glory years predated me, and the mystique of the Black and Gold meant little to me in 1996.

Still, I made very clear to my dad we were rooting for the Steelers. It made sense, of course, to root for Pittsburgh as the only other option was the Cowboys. At that age, growing up in D.C., there was simply no way I could root for Dallas. 

For me as a teenager, going to the Super Bowl was the peak of my existence. An unreal spectacle, and more importantly, the pinnacle of football. It didn’t matter that the Cowboys were playing, my dad and I were at the Super Bowl. The experience trumped the contestants, and eventually, the result.

My dad moved to America in the mid-1970s. He never loved football, but he loved me. As early as I can remember I loved the sport, loved playing it, loved watching it, and even as a young kid, loved writing and talking about it. 

My dad drove me to football practices. My dad drove me to football games. He watched me play, and together, we watched plenty of others play. 

How he made a Super Bowl trip happen I’m still not sure. My stepmom pulled a billion strings to get us tickets, and luckily, we had family friends in Arizona we could stay with. No chance we could swing the hotel prices of Super Bowl week, but only having to figure out airfare, my parents made it work. 

As much as I remember the game, the scene I remember most was the lobby of some downtown Phoenix hotel where we picked up our tickets. A scene I now know, for my young eyes, it was incredible. Players walked around, coaches, GMs, just about anybody associated with the NFL walked through that lobby. 

I was a precocious kid, and even then, obsessed with sports media. I’ll never forget seeing Peter King and tugging on my dad’s shirt. 

“Dad, that’s Peter King!”

“Who’s that?”

“Dad! He writes for Sports Illustrated!”

Dad certainly didn’t know who he was, but he encouraged me to go over to speak with him. I went. King could not have been nicer as I drilled him with questions about the Redskins quarterback controversy. Heath Shuler or Gus Frerotte. At the time, it was the most pressing issue in my universe. 

Looking back now, I wonder if the palpable buzz of that hotel lobby in some way got me where I am now. I’ll never know. 

What I do know is I never would have gotten where I am without my father. And now he’s gone. 

He passed on Master’s Sunday, somewhat suddenly. While it’s shocking and incredibly hard, he also went peacefully, surrounded by family. As far as going goes, it’s what many hope for. 

The days since have been tough. I’m not sure what will come ahead. I’ll miss him everyday of my life, and I will think about him often. I have my own young daughter to raise now, and while she will never really know my dad, I hope to show her his personality. 

I haven’t written about the Redskins in almost a week. I’m not sure that’s happened, in some blog or other capacity, in nearly a decade. Or maybe more. Or maybe less. I’m honestly not sure. 

What I am sure of, when it mattered, my dad loved football. Because he loved me. 

And I love him too. I’m going to get back on my feet and back on the beat and attack news and information like I have the past year. I’ll try to have fun along the way as well, like I think I have for the past year. 

Plenty of folks have lost their dad. I’m not unique, and I’m much luckier than many. I know that and appreciate it. 

Thanks for indulging me on this story. Maybe you learned something about me. I learned a lot about myself. I’ll close with this: Give your loved ones a hug. Life can be fleeting. Chase your joys. Love life and be good to one another. 

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Need to Know: The five Redskins under the most pressure entering camp

Need to Know: The five Redskins under the most pressure entering camp

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, July 21, six days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.


The Redskins last played a game 201 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 51 days.

Days until:

—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 20
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 29
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 43

Five Redskins who are under pressure going into training camp

QB Kirk Cousins–Going first with the most obvious. He’s under pressure to get this team back to the playoffs. Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine will help the running game and perhaps the defense will improve. But this team still will rise and fall by scoring points through the air. From his point of view, he’s on a one-year deal. If he is going to get a record long-term deal next year–or get the Redskins to cough up $35 million on the franchise tag–he’s going to need to play well.

WR Terrelle Pryor–He also is in the one-year contract situation so he needs to impress all 32 teams to drive up his value. He’s also being counted on to replace the 1,000-yard production of either Pierre Garçon or DeSean Jackson. Or maybe both. That’s a lot to put on the plate of a player in just his second full-time year at his position.

CB Josh Norman–Cousins has the highest 2017 salari on the team but Norman has the biggest contract on the team and he didn’t have the impact to match it last year. It’s not that he had a bad year but it’s reasonable to expect more interceptions and fewer penalties. It’s fair to give him a pass with it being his first year in the system. However, the Redskins have a window to release him without a debilitating cap hit after this season and if the value isn’t there you can’t rule out them pulling the trigger.

S Su’a Cravens–Everyone knows that Cravens is perhaps a step slow for a safety. He needs to make up for it with anticipation, which means paying attention to all the details in practice and doing a lot of extra film study. There is no questioning his work ethic but it’s a lot to absorb in a hurry.

OLB Preston Smith–When he is on, few are better. When he’s off, he can disappear for games on end. Consistency is the key for Smith this year. If he catches on and starts playing at his best all the time, he may be in line for a lucrative contract extension next offseason. If he falters, Trent Murphy, Junior Galette, and Ryan Anderson all will be waiting to lay claim to his snaps.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Rob Kelley hopes cutting out his favorite fast food restaurants means a better 2017

Rob Kelley hopes cutting out his favorite fast food restaurants means a better 2017

While his job and athletic ability separate him from most commoners, Rob Kelley is just like you and me when it comes to his diet. Well, when it came to his old diet, actually. 

Like many, the second-year Redskins running back loves him some crispy fried chicken, buttery, pillow-like biscuits and piping hot french fries. He also can get down with piles of nuggets, double cheesburgers and creamy milkshakes. 

But during this offseason, Fat Rob is looking less and less so, and that improvement is largely due to some new eating habits.


"Changed the diet up," Kelley told CSN Redskins Insider JP Finlay this week at the former's youth camp (full video above). "Slowed down on the fast food and processed food and tried to eat more healthy."

When asked what places he's specifically cut out from his rotation, Kelley answered with a laugh. It wasn't a happy laugh, though — it was like one of those laughs people let out when they're feeling major pain but not trying to show it.

"Popeyes. McDonald's," he said. "Not trying to discredit those fast food places, but just, it's not working well for me."

Limiting trips to those establishments can no doubt be a difficult task (it's OK to nod your head in agreement) but it's also working for the 24-year-old. He told Finlay he thinks he's lost about six pounds since OTAs and now checks in at 229 thanks to his workouts and an increased reliance on Whole Foods, vegetables and his grill. 

But just because he's shedding pounds doesn't mean he's shedding the moniker that caught on during his rookie campaign. He may be trending closer to Svelte Rob than he is to Fat Rob these days, but No. 20 is going to keep his nickname moving forward anyway.

"It's always accurate," he said.