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Goodell gets it

Goodell gets it

A year ago, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell decided that his league was at risk of gaining a reputation as a collection of thugs. Sweeping changes in the code of conduct and stiffer penalties for violating those standards came into effect almost overnight.

Tank Johnson of the Bears and Chris Henry of the Bengals felt the sting of Goodell's preemptive strike. Pacman Jones, who at some point will be a former Titan, still is feeling it.

Now, Goddell sees a new problem on the horizon and, just as he did with player misconduct, he's moving quickly to nip it in the bud.

That problem is cheating, teams going outside the rules to gain an advantage over an opponent.

Right now, it's not viewed as a league-wide problem. Fairly or unfairly, it's viewed as a New England Patriots problem. They're the only ones who have been caught. The organization was fined and stripped of its first-round draft pick after being caught taping the Jets' coaching staff's defensive signals during the season opener.

There may be more to come as Goodell is interesting in speaking to a former low-level Patriots employee who may know something about taping prior to the Patriots' first Super Bowl win after the 2001 season.

If something comes of that, the league will have an image problem, but the negative perception still would be focused on Foxboro.

Another team caught spying, though, would be a PR nightmare for the league. One team doing it is a maverick; two teams doing it is a trend, a cancer. The brush tarring the league's reputation would become much broader. Congressional hearings certainly would follow.

As he did with player conduct, Goodell has taken a decidedly proactive stance on the cheating issue. A memo obtained by Mark Maske of the Washington Post outlines a series of strong steps designed to strongly encourage teams from going outside the rules of competition, to make it easier to punish them should they do so and to make those penalties more severe.

The measures, some of which Goodell can implement on his own and others of which will need league approval, include unannounced inspections of team facilities including locker rooms, the press box, and the coaches' booth.

Something less than conclusive proof of rules violations will be needed in order for the commissioner to impose penalties.

And, as it was with the players, the punishment will be swift and severe. "Where a violation is shown, I intend to impose more stringent penalties on both the club and the responsible individual(s)," Goddell is quoted as saying in the memo. "I will also be prepared to make greater use of draft choice forfeiture in appropriate cases. I believe this will have the effect of deterring violations and making people more willing to report violations on a timely basis."

Bravo.

The culture of "If you ain't cheatin' you ain't tryin'" has to go by the wayside. If people are going to continue to pay for tickets and watch games on TV they have to believe that the games are being fairly contested. Another cheating scandal would shake the faith that the playing field is level.

You can argue that what the Patriots did in the Jets game gave them only a marginal edge at most and you wouldn't find a lot of disagreement here. However, the perception was the critical aspect in Spygate. It will take the Pats a long time to shake the "cheaters" label that many fans and others have applied.

Instead of waiting for trouble to happen, Goodell going out to find it and stop it before it has a chance to take hold. This approach not only makes him unique among the major pro sports commissioners, but among most of heads of sports at all levels.

Again, bravo.

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Redskins Fan of the Year bracket: Which Washington supporter deserves the title?

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Redskins Fan of the Year bracket: Which Washington supporter deserves the title?

Every week during the 2017 Redskins season, NBC Sports Washington found two Redskins fans in the crowd and paired them in a head-to-head matchup on Twitter to determine the fan of the game.

And now that the season is over, it's time to take each of those winners, throw them into a NCAA Tournament-style bracket and let Twitter pick the Redskins Fan of the Year.

Starting on January 8 over on the @NBCSRedskins Twitter account, one matchup a day will be posted at 11 a.m., and fans will have 24 hours to vote for their favorite supporter by retweeting or liking depending on their preference. Week 1's winner will face off with Week 17's, Week 2's will play Week 16's, etc.

The winners will advance, and eventually, one member of the Burgundy and Gold faithful will stand above all the rest, earning the coveted title of Redskins Fan of the Year. 

Check out the results below, which'll be updated every day. To see the tweet that corresponded with each matchup, click the link after the date, but remember, retweets and likes submitted after the 24-hour period won't be counted.

January 8: Round one, matchup one

This was a close one that came down to the last-minute, but at the 24-hour mark, Week 17's winner garnered justtttttttt enough retweets to move on.

January 9: Round one, matchup two

In this tournament, a giant Redskins chain is apparently worth more than a giant football hat.

January 10: Round one, matchup three

In the tournament's third showdown, we have our first winner from the Likes side:

January 11: Round one, matchup four

Was there anyway she wasn't gonna win, especially with the little Hogettes nose?

January 12: Round one, matchup five

Our fifth matchup's winner earned the most retweets of anyone up to this point:

January 15: Round one, matchup six

These three 'Skins fans had to witness Washington's Thursday night flop in Dallas, so it's only fair that they get to advance to the second round:

January 16: Round one, matchup seven

There's still time to vote on this one:

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Who will be the Redskins' core offensive players three years from now?

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Who will be the Redskins' core offensive players three years from now?

Just before training camp, I took a stab at figuring out who on the Redskins roster would still be with the team and contributing in the year 2020. Now that the season is over, let’s revisit that look, move it up to 2021, and see how much the picture has changed. The offense is up today, the defense later this week.

The terms used here are mostly self-explanatory. If you want details you can look at this post from a couple of years ago.   

Offense (age as of Week 1 2021)

Potential blue-chip players: Brandon Scherff (29), Morgan Moses (30)
Changes from last prediction: Moses added, removed Trent Williams (33), Jordan Reed (31)

Scherff and Moses both are two young players who should get better with more experience. The right side of the line will be in good hands assuming the Redskins will be able to re-sign Scherff, who will be a free agent following the 2019 season.

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Williams will be 33 in 2021. He can play at a very high level at that age but I think he will be just below the perennial Pro Bowl status he enjoys now. Although I think that the Redskins can still get some good play out of Reed in the next couple of years, it’s hard to imagine him staying productive into his 30’s. He is under contract through 2021 but it’s hard to see him playing in Washington past 2020.

Solid starters: Jamison Crowder (28), Josh Doctson (27), Chris Thompson (30), Williams
Changes: Doctson, Thompson, Williams added, Kirk Cousins (33), Terrelle Pryor (32), Moses removed.

I’m probably higher on Doctson than most. I don’t see him attaining All-Pro status or catching 100 passes in a season but his physical talent is so good that he will be a solid, productive receiver for the next several years. The Redskins will need to find a third receiver but they will have two good ones in Crowder and Doctson.

Third-down back isn’t technically a starting position but Thompson should still be contributing as much to the offense as many starters.

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I think that Cousins will be a solid starter somewhere in 2021 but it is not looking like it will be in Washington. Pryor obviously did not work out and he is very likely to be playing elsewhere next year.

Potential starters: Spencer Long (30), Rob Kelley (28), Samaje Perine (25), Chase Roullier (28)
Changes: Added Roullier, moved Doctson up

Long could be a fixture on the O-line in 2021 or he could be signed by a different team in March. I don’t think that Kelley or Perine will be workhorse backs but either or both could be a part of a tandem. Roullier could move up to the “solid starters” category if he can repeat what he did in a small sample size (7 starts) in 2017.

There are other players who could end up on these lists a year from now. But we haven’t seen enough of 2017 draft picks TE Jeremy Sprinkle or WR Robert Davis to offer an intelligent assessment of where their careers are headed. It’s the same with undrafted linemen Tyler Catalina and Kyle Kalis. They might not make the team in 2018 or they could be competing for starting jobs in 2019.

There also are reserves like Ryan Grant (30) and Ty Nsekhe (35) who still could be on the roster but who would only be spot starters.

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