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FINLAY: A lifetime of football, helped shaped by Dad

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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 Redskins week that was—Bouncing back from injuries

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Bouncing back from injuries

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, September 23, one day before the Washington Redskins play the Raiders at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: No media availability

Days until:

—Monday night Redskins @ Chiefs (10/2) 9
—Monday night Redskins @ Eagles (10/23) 30
—Cowboys @ Redskins (10/29) 36

The Redskins week that was

Cravens officially won't return in 2017—This was the news that the Redskins had put Cravens on the reserve/left team list, which meant he can’t come back during the 2017 season. While we might hear something more on this before the end of December, the story is on hold until 2018. If Cravens does come back, he would start the second year of his rookie contract. The deal essentially is on hold until he returns (if he does, of course).

5 observations on the Redskins win over the Rams—The top takeaway was “you have to run the ball to run the ball.” Yes, it’s an obvious statement but the logic of it seems to escape Jay Gruden from time to time, as it did Sean McVay. Since Gruden came to Washington the Redskins are 3-19 when they rush for fewer than 90 yards and 1-14 when they attempt fewer than 20 runs. They committed to the run on Sunday and 229 rushing yards later they had the win.

Strong start for Smith but Redskins want to see more—Preston Smith has frustrated coaches with his inconsistency ever since arriving as a second-round pick in 2015. So, it’s too early to start thinking he’s going to have a breakout year after he started off with two sacks in two games. Still, a hot start is a key component to a breakout year and we’ll see if he keeps it up against tough opposition in the next two weeks.

First look at Redskins vs. Raiders—A Bay Area writer says that the Raiders’ offense is “doing whatever it wants” during the team’s 2-0 start. They are fourth in the NFL in total offense but they have that status primarily due to piling up 430 yards against the tanking Jets. I have no doubt that they will move the ball tomorrow night but I’m not so sure the will do whatever they want against an improved Washington defense.

Jay Gruden updates a lengthy injury report—When Gruden rattled off the injury list during his Monday press conference he listed seven players who were “day-to-day” with various injuries sustained during their physical win over the Rams. Six days later, it will be a surprise if any of them are out against the Rams tomorrow. Perhaps the most impressive injury return was that of Mason Foster. During the game, his shoulder was dislocated. He popped it back in and didn’t miss a snap. On Wednesday, less than 72 hours later, he was at practice giving some solid shoves to a blocking sled.  

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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Redskins Week 3 injury report: Five are listed as questionable

Redskins Week 3 injury report: Five are listed as questionable

The Redskins had a tough, physical game against the Rams last Sunday and it shows on the team’s injury report. Five players are listed as questionable for the coming game against the Raiders at FedEx Field.

TE Jordan Reed (chest), RB Rob Kelley (ribs), ILB Mason Foster (shoulder), S Montae Nicholson (shoulder), and CB Josh Norman (shoulder) are the players who are questionable.

RELATED: MUST-SEE PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS' WIN IN LA

Of those players, Reed was the only one to miss a practice this week. He was out on Wednesday and was back on a limited basis on Thursday and Friday. The Pro Bowl tight end told reporters in the locker room that he will be in the lineup on Sunday.

There is particular concern about Kelley’s injury. He is likely to start as he usually does. But CSN is reporting that the team will have four running backs on the game day active list instead of the three they went with in Weeks 1 and 2. Mack Brown will dress for the Redskins after being inactive in both previous games.

MORE REDSKINS: A STRONG START FOR SMITH BUT MORE IS NEEDED

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.