It must be March; the national media is at it again, foaming at the mouth over the Redskins’ foray into free agency.
You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net
The national media’s template for coverage—to use the term loosely—of the Redskins’ ability to get far enough under the salary cap to make some high-profile free-agent acquisitions was, for the most part, typical Dan Snyder bashing. There was one talking point, however, that crossed the line from stupid to flat out outrageous.
First, the garden variety, pedestrian stupidity. Ahh, where to begin. Len Pasquarelli is always a good place to start. From ESPN.com:
So, either Washington contracts manager Eric Schaffer is a genius or Snyder has found a way to circumvent the cap. Seems it must be the former, since none of the legion of the team officials who keep wondering privately how the Redskins are able to add players -- and who complain to the media about Washington's laxity in turning in contracts to the league -- apparently has the gumption to raise the issue with the NFL Management Council.
After paying a backhanded compliment to Schaffer, Pasquarelli implies that the only reason that the NFL hasn’t smacked the Redskins for salary cap violation penalties is because nobody has complained loudly enough. Excuse me, Len, but does anyone have to complain for the league to enforce the rules? Does another team official have to do that little “throw the flag” motion that NFL receivers do to try to elicit a pass interference call to get Paul Tagliabue to enforce the terms of the CBA? I don’t know the inner working of the NFL, but it’s a pretty safe bet that the league doesn’t have to wait for someone to a call toll-free hotline (1-800-CAP-HELL) for it to take action against cap cheaters. If the Redskins weren’t clean, they would have been hit by the league.
Len babbles on:
In each of the last two springs, Snyder has vowed publicly that the roster he has assembled will represent the Redskins' team for three years. Then the inevitable occurs. Washington doesn't win a Super Bowl, the roster is blown up and Snyder goes back to the vault for another free-agent spending spree.
Horse hockey. First of all, Snyder does not assemble the roster, Joe Gibbs does. Snyder has publicly vowed nothing about the roster in any way, shape or form in the past two springs. The only comment that Snyder has made about the roster since January of 2004 is something along the lines of, “Whatever Joe Gibbs wants is what he gets.”
And did I sleep through a roster explosion last spring or something? The Redskins drafted a corner (Rogers) to replace one who departed via free agency, got a free agent center (Rabach) to replace one who was woefully inadequate, traded away a disgruntled receiver for a better one (Moss), and signed a free agent WR (Patten). That hardly qualifies as a mushroom cloud over Ashburn.
The other prime Snyder basher, Peter King, did an interview on WFAN radio in New York. The host asked him how the Redskins were able to get under the cap. King’s response:
Here’s how they did it this year. They got rid of, basically, depending on how you count them, four or five starters. They purged those guys.
Purged them? How Stalin-esque! What, does he know about a gulag hidden under Redskins Park or something?
Style aside, let’s examine the substance here. Depending on how you count them. Hmmm. Let’s see, LaVar Arrington, starter. Walt Harris, starter when someone was injured. Matt Bowen, not a starter. Cory Raymer, not a starter. Brandon Noble, entire season on injured reserve. Ditto Tom Tupa.
The only way King is counting five starters is by just flat out making them up.
That’s just a small sampling of the ridiculous stuff out there. However, perhaps frustrated because they don’t seem to have fazed Snyder yet, both King and Pasquarelli stoop to new lows when they attack the integrity of Snyder and, indeed, of the entire organization. They’re playing their outrageous tune from the same sheet of music. First, Lenny (an ESPN Insider article):
Several NFL teams had claimed that the Redskins could not mathematically get under the salary cap if it was set in the $94 million range, which it initially was (at $94.5 million), and that Washington needed a cap level in the $98 million range to be in compliance with the spending limit. And, presto, suddenly the team gained $4.4 million in cap relief (you do the math on the difference between $98 million and $94 million) when Arrington forfeited the deferred bonus money.
While no one was publicly willing to charge the Redskins with attempting to circumvent the cap, there were plenty of whispers that owner Dan Snyder had conspired to get the money to Arrington by surreptitious means.
“‘Plenty of whispers’ that I, Len Pasquarelli, decided to turn into shouts by broadcasting them all over the Internet,” Lenny thinks but fails to write. There’s absolutely zero evidence that anything like Dan Snyder taking a briefcase full of cash and passing it to LaVar in the dead of the night in an underground parking garage in Silver Spring ever happened. The lack of evidence, however, doesn’t prevent King from calling for an investigation:
I think just for the sake of insuring trust in the salary cap from some skeptical front offices, the league needs to make sure LaVar Arrington is really going to forego the $4 million in guaranteed money to get his freedom now. Not saying it didn't happen, but I am saying with all the money the Redskins have to spare and how convenient it was that the team could find this money after months of hand-wringing over the Arrington deal, the league needs to double check that the accounting of this is clean.
A dog may have been kicked in Peter King’s neighborhood. We don’t know this for sure but, because so many of us think that Peter King is the kind of guy who goes around kicking dogs, there needs to be an investigation to see if he committed cruelty to animals. Not saying that it happened, you know, just double check to make sure he’s clean.
The Washington Redskins certainly are fair game for criticism. One playoff appearance in six years does not vindicate their way of doing things. However, it is reasonable to expect responsible criticism from publications such as ESPN and Sports Illustrated. Their writers should not be making things up out of thin air and making reckless, irresponsible accusations. Peter King and Len Pasquarelli are acting like a couple of message board trolls, and in the process they are dragging down the credibility of the organizations that they work for.