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Ralph's Mouth

Ralph's Mouth

You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net

A display of sheer, green envy just isn’t becoming of an 88-year-old man. But Ralph Wilson showed his colors in an Associated Press article published last week.

The Buffalo Bills’ owner called out Redskins owner Dan Snyder by name as the talked to the AP reporter as one of a group of owners who “To me, and this is just my opinion, [they] don't have the same values about the league as the old guard did.”

Wilson whined on, "I just don't think they're as interested in the game as the old owners, I really don't."

The other two owners Wilson singled out by name are Jerry Jones of Dallas and Robert Kraft of New England.

Presumably, the “values” that Wilson is referring to have to do with money and the unwillingness of Snyder, Jones, Kraft and others to “share” it. Wilson located a lapdog in the Buffalo press, the Buffalo News to be exact, who was willing to do his bidding and further articulate his position:
The problem is a Cold New Breed of big-market, huge-egoed owners like Washington's Dan Snyder and Dallas' Jerry Jones, who can't control their Inner Capitalist. They either don't understand or don't care about the all-for-one concept that built the league into a mega-monolith.
Uh, where is the evidence of that? In keeping all of the revenues from luxury seating, stadium naming rights and other sources, Jones and Snyder were just doing what league rules allowed them to do. Nobody asked them for a cut until recently. The first time they had a serious meeting about revenue sharing, which was last month, they were among those who voted to give money—tens of millions of dollars—to the lower-revenue clubs. What, where they just supposed to take out their pens and write out a check to Wilson without any kind of structure, any kind of formula in place?

By the way, what Wilson and his hack writer have conveniently forgotten was that the very same vote that created the revenue sharing plan also kept intact the salary cap system. While the higher-revenue owners like Snyder and Jones must have been tempted to try out a landscape that would have let them bid unlimited amounts of money to acquire the best players, they decided to keep the system in place, certainly not something that their “Inner Capitalist” would have them do. But, no, because they didn’t just hand Ralph Wilson a blank check they’re greedy, their values are misplaced and they don’t care about the game.

While we’re on the subject, can we talk about this myth that it is things like revenue sharing and the salary cap that have made the NFL popular? It has suddenly morphed into The Truth. The NFL is wildly popular not because of its business model but because Americans like football. If people didn’t like the game, the best business model in the world wouldn’t be able to make it any more popular that soccer is.

What’s the second-most popular sport out there? It’s college football, which has very little revenue sharing. Sure, the conferences share TV and bowl revenues among their members. But when Michigan and Notre Dame hook up in The Big House, we don’t see a dime of the millions that such an event generates going to Wake Forest or Vanderbilt. Northwestern, being in the Big Ten, gets a few bucks thrown its way but by far the main financial beneficiaries of such an affair are the participants. And if a rich alum cuts a check for $10 million to have the field named after him, none of that gets shared with anyone outside of the university. Yet the sport thrives because Americans love the game.

And the people of western New York love the game too, perhaps as much as anyone in America, and it’s unfortunate that the Bills may end up moving, to Los Angeles or elsewhere. However, to blame that situation on Kraft, Snyder, and Jones is patently ridiculous. As a Rust Belt city, Buffalo has been in decline for a couple of decades now, perhaps longer. Population and the economy are shifting to the south. That’s not anyone’s fault, it’s just the way that things are. The Redskins and the Cowboys could pour all kinds of money into the Bills and that wouldn’t change these facts. If the city of Buffalo can’t support an NFL team, it’s certainly not up to the cities of Washington, Boston, and Dallas to do it for them.

Wilson isn’t just enlisting allies in the media; he is turning to where most corporations looking for a handout do, the government. All-Pro Buffalo linebacker Cornelius Bennett never put a hurtin’ on anyone like the last person to get between Chuck Schumer and an TV camera got, so he was eager to jump into the fray. A Buffalo congressman named Higgins wants to have a committee hearing to investigate the revenue sharing plan. I’ve been looking through the US Constitution to find out where the Congress has any express or implied powers to ensure that a sports franchise can stay in a particular city. I’m also trying to find out where they will find all of the time and resources needed to conduct such an inquiry. Your tax dollars at work.

When times are tough, one can hunker down, get tough, and try to figure out a way to deal with it, or one can whine and cry and get someone to threaten a congressional hearing and find a bogeyman. Wilson and his media mouthpiece have, of course, chosen the latter.
Credit the late commissioner Pete Rozelle, who sold a socialist concept to a bunch of capitalist owners on the grounds that parity pads everybody's profits.

One by one, richer owners broke ranks to go for more of the gold. Dallas' Jones was the first to exploit the loophole of unshared revenue from luxury boxes. The me-first principle prompted a glut of new stadiums filled with luxury seats (or hefty upgrades of old ballparks) that cost taxpayers in NFL cities billions of dollars.

The rich got richer, and they don't want to share their excess with their (relatively) poorer brethren. It threatens the competitive balance that turned the NFL into a money-printing machine.
Conveniently left out here is the fact that the stadium that Snyder’s team plays in was built by the team and that he is currently making heft payments on it and that Kraft had to kick in on the construction of the Patriots’ stadium and that Jones will likely have to help pay for a new stadium in Dallas. Apparently, the concept of “excess” when it comes to money only takes into account the revenue side of the picture and ignores the expense side. I guess it’s like that when you play in a 100% taxpayer-financed stadium.

And speaking of excess, how about this: Wilson paid $25,000 for the Bills. He could sell them tomorrow for something in the neighborhood of $800 million. The value of his investment has increased by a factor of 32,000. Wouldn’t a profit of $799,750,000 have to be considered to be excessive, even over the course of 45 years or so? That’s over $17 million a year in appreciation alone. You’re telling me that’s not excessive?

Wilson warns, “Don't buy all of that stuff that the league's PR machine puts out.”

Don’t buy in to all of the “woe is me” spin that Wilson is putting on his current situation, either.

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Redskins vs Cardinals Preview: 5 things to know with Jordan Reed out

Redskins vs Cardinals Preview: 5 things to know with Jordan Reed out

The Redskins moved the ball well against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, but continued red zone woes again sent Washington home with a loss. While the late November schedule proved brutal for the 'Skins, playing two games in five days, now the Redskins come to Arizona for an early December game with fresh legs and ample rest. Played indoors at University of Phoenix Stadium, weather will not be a factor for the 4 p.m. EST kick, but all the action starts on CSN with Redskins Kickoff at 3 p.m. Here are five storylines to watch:

  1. Keep it moving - Kirk Cousins showed he likes to get hot in the second half of the season during 2015. The quarterback's play late last year won the 'Skins the NFC East, and while a division title is out of reach with the Cowboys already at 11 wins, Cousins again looks to be on a heater. In three games since the bye, Cousins has thrown for more than 1,000 yards to go with eight touchdowns and no interceptions. The No. 1 story for the 'Skins is Cousins, and if he keeps his hot streak going, Washington should find itself in position to win in Arizona.
  2. Missing in action - This will be the final game of a four-game suspension for left tackle Trent Williams, and the Washington offensive line has performed admirably in his absence. Arguably more important this week will be the absence of tight end Jordan Reed, who suffered a serious shoulder injury in Dallas. What's wild about Reed - he came back to play in the second half against the Cowboys - and score two touchdowns - while playing with a separated shoulder. Reed did not practice this week, and Jay Gruden said his range of motion in the shoulder is just too limited to go against the Cardinals. 
  3. Consider the source - The Redskins offense might be the most potent group in this game, but Washington would be foolish to sleep on the Cardinals. Arizona was widely considered a Super Bowl contender coming into the season, and though they are in the midst of a disappointing year at 4-6-1, a win against the Skins could get the Cards back on the playoff track. Arizona running back David Johnson is the 3rd leading rusher in the NFL with 921 yards on the ground, not to mention an additional 613 yards receiving. Gruden on Johnson, "He is probably the best all-around back there is in the National Football League right now as far as being able to move outside, be a great route runner but also run between the tackles and run outside with his speed. So it’s going to be a matchup problem." Defensively, the Redskins ranks 25th in the NFL at stopping the run. Watch out for David Johnson.
  4. Problems don't just go away - Look at just about any metric on the Redskins offense, and the results are impressive: No. 2 in yards-per-game, No. 2 in yards-per-play, No. 2 in pass yards-per-game. But for all the yards, the 'Skins don't score at a corresponding clip as they rank 9th in the NFL in points. The culprit? Red zone troubles. "There are so many good things we’re doing on offense to put a damper on what they’re doing offensively with the red zone. It’s hard to do, but it’s something that is a glaring weakness of this football team right now," Gruden said of his team. The best road to wins for the Redskins is by scoring, ideally at least 30 points, and that will require some success inside the 20s.
  5. The harder they fall - If the Arizona offense has an Achilles heel, it's their offensive line. Carson Palmer has been sacked 16 times in the Cards last four games, and the 'Skins need to focus on bringing Palmer down. Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Murphy - who will be playing in his hometown - have been the leaders at getting sacks for Joe Barry's defense, and Preston Smith could be in line for another big game. Getting to Carson Palmer should be among the defense's top priorities, as that can slow Larry Fitzgerald and the Cards pass game.

Numbers & Notes:

  • DeSean Jackson's 67-yard reception in Dallas was a season long and his longest since a 77-yard touchdown vs. Buffalo in Week 15 of the 2015 season.
  • Kirk Cousins' 3,540 passing yards in 2016 now rank 10th-most in a single season in team history, and he still has five games left to play.
  • The Redskins offense ranks first in the NFL in percentage of fewest 3-and-out drives at 9.5 percent.
  • If Pierre Garçon can gain 137 receiving yards on Sunday, he will pass Michael Westbrook for 10th-most career receiving yards in team history.
  • With nine sacks, Ryan Kerrigan is one sack away from becoming the fifth member of the Redskins (Dexter Manley, 4; Charles Mann, 4; Andre Carter, 2; Brian Orakpo, 2) to post multiple 10-sack seasons since the NFL adopted sacks as an official statistic in 1982.

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Enemy Intel: Sunday games have playoff implications galore for Redskins

Enemy Intel: Sunday games have playoff implications galore for Redskins

As the Cowboys take their long week off after consecutive Thursday games the Redskins, Giants, Eagles, and other wild card contenders are in action. Here is Tandler’s weekly Redskins-centric spin around the NFL.

—The Giants are on a six-game winning streak and while that’s not easy to do against any level of competition it needs to be pointed out that their slate was squishy-soft with the last five wins coming against teams that currently have losing records. Now things get real with a trip to play the Steelers and a home date against the Cowboys. I’m not really sure how good the Giants are but if they split these two games I’ll be more impressed with them than I am now.

—The 5-6 Eagles travel to play the Bengals, who are just about out of contention for a sixth straight playoff appearance at 3-7-1. In fact, the Eagles might be just about out of it, too. Their big problem is 3-6 conference record, which puts them behind several other wild card contenders in this tiebreaker. It’s important because that is the second tiebreaker behind head to head. It’s better for the Redskins if the Bengals win but it probably won’t matter much. The consensus in Philadelphia seems to be that the Eagles are a rebuilding team that got off to a hot start, kindling some unrealistic hopes and expectations for the rest of 2016.

—The team is the hottest pursuit of the Redskins is the Buccaneers, who travel to San Diego to play a game that starts at the same time as Washington-Arizona. The Chargers are 5-6 but they are buried in last in the tough AFC West. This game is a coin flip. Redskins fans should root for the Chargers. If the Bucs lose, the Redskins would still hold the second wild card at the end of the day even if they should lose to the Cardinals.

—The 5-6 Saints are on the fringes of the wild card picture. They host the Lions, who are leading the NFC North by a game and a half over the Vikings and two games over the Packers. It’s probably best if the Lions win, which would just about eliminate the Saints. Still, there is a scenario where the Lions go into a minor tailspin, lose the division to either the Packers or Vikings but have a good enough record to take the second wild card. So like with most games within the NFC until the dust settles some more, there is some upside and some downside no matter which team wins.

—That scenario where the Lions fade from the division lead become a whole lot less likely if the Texans can go to Green Bay and beat the Packers. This is an interconference game so it’s an easy call to pull for Houston.

—Seattle, with a three-game lead in the NFC West, hosts the Panthers, who are on the outer fringe of the wild card race at 4-7. Another loss likely would ensure that Carolina won’t be able to defend its NFC title. This isn’t a pivotal game but probably better if the Seahawks win to end it for the wounded but potentially dangerous Panthers.

—My one loss last week was the Seahawks giving 5.5 on the road to the Bucs. I won with the Saints over the Rams and the Falcons over the Cardinals. This week I’m giving the Seahawks another go, giving 7 to the Panthers, and I’m taking the Patriots -13.5 against the Rams (the loss of Gronk doesn’t do much to equalize these teams) and the Saints giving 6 to the Lions.

MORE REDSKINS: Betting on the Redskins' playoff chances