Redskins

Cardinals fire coach Whisenhunt, GM Graves

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Cardinals fire coach Whisenhunt, GM Graves

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) The Arizona Cardinals have fired coach Ken Whisenhunt after six seasons that included the long-suffering franchise's only Super Bowl appearance.

The team also ousted general manager Rod Graves, who had been with the franchise for 16 years. He'd been general manager since 2007.

The housecleaning by Cardinals President Michael Bidwill, son of team owner Bill Bidwill, followed a season that saw the team start 4-0 but lose 11 of its last 12 to finish 5-11.

Bidwill wasted no time in identifying possible replacements, saying at a Monday news conference that the team had reached out to Andy Reid, fired earlier in the day after 14 years as coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. Bidwill also said he had received permission to interview Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.

Bidwill also said Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton was a candidate for the head coaching job and would be the first to be interviewed. Horton is believed to have interviews with other teams, too.

And Bidwill identified Steve Keim, Cardinals vice president for player personnel, as a candidate to replace Graves as general manager.

The 50-year-old Whisenhunt had more wins than any other coach in Cardinals history, going 45-51, 4-2 in the playoffs. He had a year worth about $5.5 million left on his contract.

Of the team's three winning seasons the past 28 years, two came with Whisenhunt as coach.

But the lack of success the past three seasons led Bidwill to make the changes.

``It came down to wins and losses and the direction I felt like the team was going,'' Bidwill said. ``...It was a decision that I made over the last several weeks and came to a final decision last night.''

In the last three seasons, Arizona won 18 games, only four on the road.

``When you look at the other teams in the NFC West, they were making dramatic improvements, especially the 49ers and the Seahawks,'' he said, ``so I felt like we've got to get back to where we're competing at the highest level to win the NFC West.''

Those dismissed included assistant head coach/offensive line coach Russ Grimm, offensive coordinator Mike Miller, offensive quality control coach Chad Grimm, quarterbacks coach John McNulty, wide receivers coach Frank Reich and running backs coach Tommie Robinson. Tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens was the only coach on the offensive staff not fired.

None of the defensive coaches were dismissed.

Despite its overall lack of success, the team finished among the league leaders in several defensive categories.

In a statement released by the team, Whisenhunt thanked the Bidwills for the opportunity.

``I'm very proud of what we as a team and as an organization achieved during that time,'' he said. ``Collectively we accomplished some very special and unprecedented things. That's a testament to the dedication, hard work and talent of so many coaches, players and people throughout the organization.

``But we all understand this business and when you don't win enough games changes are made. That doesn't mean it's easy but you definitely don't have to look far to find people that have it much worse.''

Whisenhunt's six seasons were tied for the longest tenure for a coach in the Cardinals' long, largely unsuccessful history

In his second year with the team, the Cardinals finished the regular season 9-7, then mounted a stunning run to the Super Bowl, beating Atlanta, Carolina and Philadelphia along the way. They lost a thriller to Pittsburgh 27-23 in the Super Bowl in Tampa.

The following season, Arizona won a franchise-record 10 games in the regular season and defeated Green Bay 51-45 in overtime in one of the most exciting playoff games of all time. But the New Orleans Saints pounded the Cardinals 45-14 the following week, and quarterback Kurt Warner decided to retire.

Things were never the same again as Whisenhunt went with an assortment of quarterbacks but could never find the offensive magic that Warner created.

The Cardinals went 5-11 in 2010, but after a 1-6 start regrouped to finish 8-8 in 2011.

Arizona started 2012 at 4-0 but it was a fool's gold record. The Cardinals lost nine straight and 11 of their last 12 to finish 5-11 for the second time in three seasons.

Quarterback was again the main issue. Most of the success came with Kevin Kolb at the position, but he went down with what turned out to be a season-ending rib injury in Week 6 and, with John Skelton, Ryan Lindley and, in the finale, Brian Hoyer, at the position, and with a woeful running game, Arizona's was the worst offense in the NFL.

Kolb remains under contract although the Cardinals may want to try to renegotiate since he's to make $9 million plus a $2 million roster bonus next season. Bidwill, though, was supportive of the quarterback.

``That's one of the questions that we need to really focus on with the coaching staff candidates is how do we see about Kevin and his performance and how we can turn him into the quarterback of the future here for the Cardinals,'' Bidwill said, ``and make that decision - if he's the right guy. That's a question that needs to be answered but I'm not ready to give up on Kevin Kolb yet.''

Kolb played for Reid, mainly as a backup, with the Eagles before he was traded to the Cardinals.

Offense was supposed to be Whisenhunt's specialty.

The Georgia Tech graduate with a degree in engineering played nine seasons as an NFL tight end.

Whisenhunt worked his way through the coaching ranks to become tight ends coach for the Steelers in 2001 and was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2004. After three seasons in that job, he was hired in Arizona to replace Dennis Green, who was fired after three losing seasons.

Graves joined the franchise as assistant to the president in 1997. He became vice president for football operations in 2003 and general manager in 2007.

``Working with talented others to build and enhance our brand over the past 16 years has been an awesome and totally enriching experience,'' he said in a statement released through the team. ``It has been the opportunity that others only dream of. Every day I came to work I viewed it as the ultimate privilege and never once lost sight of that. ``

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Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Follow Bob Baum at www.twitter.com/Thebaumerphx

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Stefon Diggs is unsure about the NFL starting up with 'so many unanswered questions'

Stefon Diggs is unsure about the NFL starting up with 'so many unanswered questions'

On Tuesday, Cleveland Browns center and NFLPA president J.C. Tretter penned a letter questioning if the NFL is truly prioritizing player safety in its return to work plan, which is expected to begin with training camp at the end of the month.

Hours later, Buffalo Bills wide receiver and former Maryland Terrapin standout Stefon Diggs voiced similar concerns on Twitter, stating "I’d be lying if I said I was comfortable starting back up."

Earlier in the day, he tweeted that he missed football and that he loves the sport.

If and when the NFL does resume this fall, games will be played without fans in some stadiums. Diggs mentioned that it would be "weird" to play in front of an empty stadium, something he's never done before at any level of football.

Even if there are fans at NFL games this fall, they will be away from the playing field. The league has already announced that the first 6-8 rows of each lower bowl section will be blocked off from fans to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. Instead, those sections will be covered with advertisements, similarly to how the Premier League has done during its restart.

Training camp is set to being on July 28, around the same time both the MLB and NBA will begin/resume their respective seasons. With live-action just a few weeks away, we've seen multiple players across both sports opt-out from playing, including Nationals infielder Ryan Zimmerman and Wizards sharpshooter Davis Bertans.

As the NFL season begins to get closer, it's likely only a matter of time before a few players opt-out, too.

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Wizards Moe Wagner to wear 'Vote' on jersey as social justice statement, per report

Wizards Moe Wagner to wear 'Vote' on jersey as social justice statement, per report

When the NBA returns to action in Orlando later this month, some players will have the option to replace their last name on their jerseys with social justice statements. 

Washington Wizards' Moe Wagner will be one of those players that will be opting to do so, according to the TNT's Chris Haynes. Wagner will have 'Vote' on the back of his jersey.

The second-year player will join several other stars that will be speaking out by virtue of their jerseys. As of now, he joins Rudy Gobert, C.J. McCollum, Pat Connaughton and others who will have a social justice message on their threads. 

Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz) - "Equality"
CJ McCollum (Portland Trail Blazers) - "Education Reform"
Jusuf Nurkic (Portland Trail Blazers) - 'Equality"
Kent Bazemore (Sacramento Kings) - "Education Reform"
Matisse Thybulle (Philadelphia 76ers) - "Vote"
Pat Connaughton (Milwaukee Bucks) - "Equality"
Meyers Leonard (Miami Heat) - "Equality"
Ivica Zubac (Los Angeles Clippers) - "Enough"
Moe Wagner (Wizards) - "Vote

More players will likely join-in to wear these statements. The NBA and NBPA agreed to this option allowing the players to inspire change on a large platform while restarting the 2020 season. The players can continue important conversations regarding race and social injustice as opposed to basketball serving as a distraction to larger issues within the country.

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Some players are "disgruntled with the lack of options" the NBA provided, according to Haynes. There are 28 options for players to chose from, along with their regular last name. According to ESPN, here are the phrase options:

-Black Lives Matter
-Say Their Names
-Vote
-I Can't Breathe
-Justice
-Peace
-Equality
-Freedom
-Enough
-Power to the People
-Justice Now
-Say Her Name
-Sí Se Puede (Yes We Can)
-Liberation
-See Us
-Hear Us
-Respect Us
-Love Us
-Listen
-Listen to Us
-Stand Up
-Ally
-Anti-Racist
-I Am A Man
-Speak Up
-How Many More
-Group Economics
-Education Reform
-Mentor

Stay connected to the Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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