Redskins

Browns kicker excited about "Cowboy" homecoming

Browns kicker excited about "Cowboy" homecoming

BEREA, Ohio (AP) When he was a kid, Browns kicker Phil Dawson worshipped the Dallas Cowboys.

In Texas, it's mandatory.

``Unless you grow up in Houston,'' Dawson said. ``The rest of the state is Cowboys and that's all you did was follow the Cowboys.''

And that he did.

Like many boys growing up deep in the heart of the Lone Star state, where football and religion intersect, Dawson dreamed of one day wearing the Cowboys' royal blue and famed five-pointed star. He even decked out his bedroom into a pseudo shrine to America's Team.

``I had a Doomsday Defense poster on my wall,'' Dawson said. ``My high school years was the dynasty with the three Super Bowls. I was pretty spoiled as a football fan. My dad, we had season tickets, so I had a few stars sitting around the house and some good memories.''

Dawson hopes to add new ones Sunday, when the Browns (2-7) visit the Cowboys (4-5) in what will be a second homecoming in two weeks for the 37-year-old, who has been perfect so far this season. During the Browns' bye last weekend, Dawson returned to his alma mater of Texas and was inducted into the Longhorns' Hall of Honor, a tribute he's ``still absorbing.''

It will be just Dawson's second game as a pro in Dallas, and his first visit inside 4-year-old Cowboys Stadium, the monstrous $1.3 billion marvel with its enormous high-definition TV screen, platforms of go-go dancers and retractable roof.

Dawson can't wait.

``I just hope they have the roof closed and it's a true dome game,'' said Dawson, who has made 23 straight field goals - the NFL's longest current streak - since last season. ``It'll be fun to see it. I've driven by it. I haven't gone in it yet. But everyone I've talked to who's been in it says it's just ridiculous.''

The only drawback has been filling ticket requests for family and friends. Dawson expects around 30 supporters.

``It's been growing every day,'' he said. ``I'm about to close down the ticket office. I can't afford many more.''

He's not the only Browns player with Cowboy connections.

Rookie running back Trent Richardson is hoping Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith will be in attendance. From the same high school in Pensacola, Fla., where Richardson broke most of Smith's records, the two have developed a close relationship.

Richardson speaks regularly to Smith, Dallas' iconic No. 22, for advice.

``That's one person I said I always wanted to be like when I was growing up,'' said Richardson, who has rushed for more than 100 yards in two straight games despite still being slowed by a rib cartilage injury. ``I'm just trying to follow in his footsteps and see if I can do better than how he did. That's big footsteps to follow.''

Richardson is trying to become the first Browns rookie to string together three straight 100-yard games, a feat even the great Jim Brown couldn't accomplish.

For Dawson, Sunday's game is a chance to continue what has been a personally sublime 14th NFL season.

He's made all 17 field-goal tries and is 16 of 16 on extra points. Dawson is the lone kicker in the league with more than nine attempts who hasn't missed. In his previous game, Dawson accounted for all of Cleveland's points by kicking five field goals in a 25-15 loss to Baltimore.

Ever humble, and mindful of a kicker's fragile existence, Dawson didn't want to make much of his impressive nine-game run.

``We're off to a good start,'' he said. ``I certainly don't want to diminish that, but there's still seven games to go. So I could screw this whole thing up pretty quick. I like where I am right now, but I'm only as good as my next kick, and the last thing I want to do is to go home to my hometown and poop the bed, so to speak.''

So much of Dawson's youth revolved around the Cowboys and trips to their former stadium in Irving, Texas.

He attended high school games there with his father, Robert, an accountant who pointed out football's innate beauty to his son. On Sundays, Dawson would carry books with him to Cowboys games, though he would rarely crack any open, preferring to learn more about Tom Landry's ``flex defense'' than the Revolutionary War.

``I learned the game from my dad and a lot of that was sitting there watching Cowboy games,'' Dawson said. ``He taught me a few things and helped me look at things and explain things. Those were some good memories.''

Dawson's children will be at Sunday's game. He and his wife, Shannon, have kept their three kids in school in Texas, a separation that has been hard on Dawson. They were all together last week in Austin for his enshrinement, and the Dawsons will gather again to watch dad try to beat the Cowboys.

He has spent his entire career in Cleveland, so surely his house is free of any Cowboys paraphernalia.

``I'll go with that,'' he said, cracking a smile.

Dawson confessed that his oldest son, Dru, has a Cowboys bedroom like he had.

``His bedroom is blue,'' Dawson said. ``He's got the star, the NFL emblem, he's got the stadium. I don't know if he has any of the players. He has the mural type stuff all over the place. And then there's obviously Browns helmets.''

Good thing.

So will Dru be allowed at Sunday's game?

``Oh yeah,'' Dawson said. ``No blue though.''

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These hidden factors could make Brandon Scherff less interested in an extension with the Redskins

These hidden factors could make Brandon Scherff less interested in an extension with the Redskins

In Brandon Scherff, the Redskins have a 27-year-old guard who has delivered on his first-round status, a lineman who has become one of the best in the league at his position and should have many more years of production and defender-mauling left.

Therefore, it's in the Redskins' best interest to extend Scherff this offseason, and the veteran confirmed on Monday there have been talks about getting that done

But during a discussion on the Redskins Talk podcast, J.I. Halsell, a salary cap expert and former agent, laid out something that could force those negotiations to stall.

"There are some things you have to take into consideration because 2020 is the final year of the collective bargaining agreement, so there are some things you have to work around when structuring the deal," Halsell said.

Not only is that deadline approaching, but another one is, too. In 2021 and 2022, the NFL's TV deals with Monday Night Football, FOX, CBS and NBC expire as well.

So, there's a very real possibility the league's salary cap could look much, much different in a few seasons. And that, according to Halsell, may make Scherff much less willing to accept an extension now.

"If you're Brandon Scherff, in 2021, with a new collective bargaining agreement, the salary cap might be $250 million or something crazy like that, with all the new revenue coming into the league," he explained. "And so why would I take a deal today and preclude myself of taking advantage of a very lucrative and larger revenue pie?"

Essentially, it comes down to whether Scherff wants to take a present risk that could pay off down the line (kind of like how Kirk Cousins did a few years back with the Burgundy and Gold). He could probably lock something in over the next few months — Halsell's projection was an agreement for five years, including $45 million guaranteed and a $14.5 million average per year — or step away from talks now and try to cash in later.

Haslell told Redskins Talk he'd probably advise the lineman to take the second route.

"You would say, 'Look, you're a former first-round pick. You've made a decent amount of money in your career thus far,'" he said. "You have the financial wherewithal to not take the bird in hand today that may not be as lucrative as what is out there in 2021. So, bet on yourself and play out the last year of your rookie deal, force them to tag you in 2020 and then see what this new NFL salary cap world looks like in 2021."

Now, who knows truly how much these factors will play into Scherff's back-and-forth with the 'Skins. Nevertheless, you can see why the Pro Bowler's next contract may not be as much of a no-brainer as previously thought.

"If the kid is willing to bet on himself," Haslell said, "then it could be very lucrative on the back end."

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Seven reasons you need to root for the Blues in the Stanley Cup Final

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Seven reasons you need to root for the Blues in the Stanley Cup Final

The St. Louis Blues defeated the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night to advance to the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final. The champions of the Western Conference will take on the Boston Bruins, the champions of the Eastern Conference, having swept the Carolina Hurricanes in four games.

With the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins squaring off in a rematch of the 1970 Stanley Cup Final, we've dug up the seven reasons why Capitals fans, and -- well -- all NHL fans should be rooting for the Blues to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup.

1: The Blues are like the Capitals of the West

A lot of fans think that the San Jose Sharks hold that title, but the Blues present an even stronger case.

The Blues Stanley Cup drought is currently at 51 seasons. And although they made the Stanley Cup Final three consecutive seasons from 1968-1970, they have yet to win a game in the Stanley Cup Final.

That should sound familiar to Caps fans. Before they won it all in 2018, Washington's Cup drought was 42 years, and when they made the Cup Final in 1998 they were swept by the dominant Detroit Red Wings.

The similarities don't stop there. Each team has a Russian sniper, a crop of promising rookies on offense and defense, and acquired depth pieces in free agency to build a consistent contender.

In the Blues case before this season, they couldn't make it past the Conference Finals, similar to how the Caps couldn't make it out of the second round.

Call it coincidence or fate, but the Blues are looking eerily similar to the Caps that won the Stanley Cup last year.

2: No More Boston Championships

The New England Patriots just won the Super Bowl. The Red Sox just won another World Series. The city of Boston has celebrated six major professional championships since 2010 and 12 since 2000, with each parade more frustrating to watch than the last.

Does Boston really need another championship after a drought since February?

3: Brad Marchand is the worst

A lot of people will complain about Tom Wilson's play. But Brad Marchand is the king of the subtle and overtly dirty play, especially in the playoffs where the rules relax.

In last year's playoffs, Marchand was told by the league to stop licking players after he brushed his tongue across Leo Komarov's face.

This postseason, he's punched players in the back of the head after a play's been blown dead.

He also baited Justin Williams into penalty minutes when he high-sticked him across the face. No penalty was given to Marchand on the play.

Marchand's put up 18 points through three rounds in addition to his antics.

4: TJ Oshie's old stomping grounds

The Caps acquired Oshie from the Blues in 2015 in exchange for Troy Brouwer, Pheonix Copley and Washington's third-round pick in 2016, and he's now a mainstay in the Caps top six. 

Oshie played over 400 games for the Blues, recording over 300 points for the organization that drafted him. Not only did he put up stellar numbers, but he was an alternate captain for the Blues and was beloved by fans in the area.

Who better to root for than for Oshbabe's old team?

5: Vladimir Tarasenko is tearing it up

If you've got Alex Ovechkin's endorsement as a game-changer, that's a good place to start.

Ovechkin took note of Tarasenko's skill in a 2014 game the Blues played against the Rangers and told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch "He just make great jump in his career and he’s carrying the team right now.”

In these playoffs, the Russian sniper has eight goals and five assists, including points in every game of the Western Conference Finals against the San Jose Sharks.


6: Pam and Jim are facing off in an Office matchup

Actor John Krasinski, who played Jim Halpert in The Office,  is a Bruins fan. 

Jenna Fischer, who played Pam Beesly, Jim's love interest, is a Blues fan.

We have a house divided.

We tend to lean to Team Pam because if you take a closer look, Jim was a pretty awful colleague and despite his charm and boyish looks, he was kinda a bad person.

7: Washington helped St. Louis ascend the standings

On Jan. 2 the Blues were last in the league and posted a 15-18-4 record with 34 points.

But their fortunes started to turn on Jan. 3, when they faced the Caps at Enterprise Center in St. Louis. They beat the Caps 5-2, and turned their season around from that game going forward, including an 11 game winning streak.

So really, St. Louis has Washington to thank for transforming their season from one marred by losses to one where they made the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1970.

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