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The Slippery Slope

The Slippery Slope

Rich Tandler is the author of Gut Check, The Complete History of Coach Joe Gibbs’ Washington Redskins. Get details and order at http://GutCheckBook.com


A couple of people I know related a story about what they did while sitting behind the visitor’s bench during a recent Redskins game. Emboldened by some mean “punch” consumed before the game, they heckled the visiting players about everything from their playing ability to steroids to their uniforms. It was all in good fun. One player not dressed for the game even came over and chatted with them after it was over.

This was just a somewhat amusing anecdote until we saw the outrageously ugly riot that broke out in the Detroit-Indiana NBA game Friday night. Then such behavior became the peak of the proverbial slippery slope.

Such an incident has never happened in the NFL, at least not in modern times. But it’s easy to see how it could.

My friends would never get involved in anything violent nor would they shout out obscenities, but let’s say that they’re yelling to a nearby player that his mother wears combat boots. That doesn’t draw a reaction. But another individual sitting nearby, perhaps not a level-headed at the others and who has been taking shots out of a flask all game long, moves from commenting on the apparel of the player’s mother to her ancestry or what she does in her spare time. This draws some angry words from the player. That gives others sitting near the heckler incentive to really let him have it. Things deteriorate from there and you have the scene in Detroit all over again.

Now, this is a somewhat simplified scenario, but does anyone doubt that the incident at the Palace started with some good, clean heckling? In other words, if nobody heckles, the whole thing never happens. The words created an atmosphere of hostility, one that became extreme when Artest committed the hard foul that provoked Ben Wallace’s shove. It just became a small leap for the abuse to go from verbal to physical.

I certainly am not going to defend the players going into the stands. However, had the whole thing ended with Artest getting hit in the face with that cup and beverage, it still would have been a very ugly incident.

I’ve never liked heckling. My idea of a good time when going to a sporting event is cheering on my team, not razzing the guys on the other side.

At the same time, I’m not going to play the speech police here. Just because it’s not something that I like to do doesn’t mean that I think that those who do get a kick out of it don’t have the right to do so as long as the language is appropriate.I’m concerned, however, that the bad apples, the ones that escalate the hostile atmosphere to the point of physical violence, are going to lead to a necessity to have physical barriers in between the fans and the players like a third-world soccer field has. That would diminish the experience for all involved.So, heckle if you must. Just remember that you may have to be doing it from across a moat and through a barbed wire fence some day.

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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.