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Cotton notes: Stoops happy to be back in Oklahoma

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Cotton notes: Stoops happy to be back in Oklahoma

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) When Mike Stoops got fired as Arizona's head coach last season, he had several opportunities for his next employment.

The one that made the most sense was returning to Oklahoma as part of brother Bob's staff again.

``It's a great program, it's working with your brother, it's familiarity, and you get to coach some awfully talented players,'' Mike Stoops said. ``There were a lot of other enticing opportunities. When everything started adding up, I felt Oklahoma was the best opportunity for me.''

Stoops is Oklahoma's associate head coach and defensive coordinator, and also coaches defensive backs.

The 12th-ranked Sooners earned a share of their eighth Big 12 title this season, going 10-2 in the regular season. They played No. 10 Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl on Friday night.

Stoops led Arizona to three consecutive bowl games, and his 2010 team reached No. 9 in the polls. The Wildcats had lost 10 of 11 games when he was fired midway through the 2011 season, finishing 41-50 in his seven-plus seasons.

Before that, Stoops was co-defensive coordinator for the Sooners from 1999-2004, and helped the Sooners win the 2000 national championship.

``It's been fun being at Oklahoma. I think being with Bob is certainly, it's been a unique experience again,'' he said. ``After eight years, it's a little different getting back into it. ... Nothing has really changed, but everything has changed.''

There is one really big difference after being a head coach, and now being an assistant again.

``I like giving orders better than I like taking them,'' he said, smiling.

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ONE MORE YEAR?: Texas A&M leading tackler Damontre Moore played his final college game Friday night in the Cotton Bowl. The defensive end announced earlier this week that he was bypassing his senior year for early entry in the NFL draft.

Many projections have Moore being among the top NFL draft picks.

That could also be the case for Aggies junior offensive tackles Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews, though neither beforehand if they expected to the Cotton Bowl to be their last game at Texas A&M.

``I love the school, I love A&M. It was the best decision of my life just coming here,'' Joeckel said. ``It's going to be hard to leave all the people, no matter what happens, it's going to be hard.''

There are a few Oklahoma juniors that could have played their finales.

Safety Tony Jefferson, the Sooners' leading tackler, wouldn't talk this week about the grade he received from the NFL Draft advisory board.

Other Oklahoma underclassmen who could consider bypassing their senior seasons are cornerback Aaron Colvin, fullback Trey Millard and receiver Kenny Stills.

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EXTRA POINTS: Texas A&M and Oklahoma were both 6-0 away from home during the regular season. ... The date for next year's Cotton Bowl hasn't been announced yet. This was the third consecutive season when the Cotton Bowl was played in prime time on a Friday night in the days before the BCS national title game. In that slot next January, the Orange Bowl is already set. ... The National Anthem was performed by the Gatlin Brothers, who also had that honor at the Cotton Bowl in 1979 and 1991. ... Former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer and former Texas A&M coach Jackie Sherrill both attended the game.

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Chris Cooley remembers mostly positive reaction to Redskins' name from Native Americans

Chris Cooley remembers mostly positive reaction to Redskins' name from Native Americans

With the Washington Redskins' name change dominating headlines across the sports world, former players have been asked a multitude of questions to get their thoughts on the team's controversial nickname.

One of those has been, "Do you remember people having a problem with the name while you were on the team?"

The answers have, of course, been mixed. Santana Moss told NBC Sports Washington's Matt Weyrich that he first noticed a problem years into his Washington tenure getting off the team bus in Seattle, while Brian Mitchell has said he's been dealing with the negative reaction around the name since the start of his career in 1990.

On Thursday, former Washington tight end Chris Cooley joined the Kevin Sheehan show on The Team 980 and described his unique experience receiving feedback from Native Americans on the team's name.

"It's probably time to change the name, and we're in that world where you can change it, but it doesn't mean that I believe it had anything to do with anything racial. It didn't," Cooley said. "Guys I played for didn't believe that, over 75 tribes that I traveled to didn't feel that way six years ago when I went to those reservations and 30 or 40 more that I went to by myself.

"You know what, it's completely fine if you change your mind on something like that," Cooley said. "And I'll be all for it, but when I was with the Washington Redskins I don't believe anybody felt it was a racially driven name."

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Cooley traveled to several reservations across the country to gain an understanding of a culture his former team's likeness was representing. Instead of having to tie his opinion to polls and other methods for gathering a group of people's opinion, he got his information straight from the source.

"The overwhelming majority was, 'Don't forget us,' 'Don't care,' 'That's fine but I'm a Cowboys fan,'" Cooley said. "It was just a conversation that was had very comfortably."

Cooley emphasized going to reservations alone in order to get honest answers from its residents. If he were there with the Redskins in a larger group, he feared he wouldn't get the same feedback as if he were alone. Ultimately, after speaking to hundreds of Native Americans, the Wyoming native got a similar response to his questions.

RELATED: NEW NAME REPORTEDLY WON'T INCLUDE NATIVE AMERICAN IMAGERY

"We would go to casinos, we would go to rodeos, and [I'd] ask them like 'Hey how do you feel about the Redskins' name?'" he said. "People would tell us, and it was more than 9-to-1 that felt positively about it, at least on the trips that I went."

However, as Cooley acknowledged, people can and are allowed to change their minds. The response a few years ago may have been positive, but that may not be the case anymore. 

According to a report from the Associated Press, more than a dozen Native American groups sent a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell asking the league to force Washington to change its name. 

So, in the end, Cooley isn't going to be "an old man on the front porch" as he called it, and push against change just to keep things the way they were. 

"Times change with people and all I'm saying is I don't feel like in my time there it was ever racially driven," he said. "But I'm also not going to sit here argue for it. If people want it changed then let's change it."

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Redskins assistant coach witnessed former Raider Barret Robbins' early mental-health issues

Redskins assistant coach witnessed former Raider Barret Robbins' early mental-health issues

Sports Uncovered is a six-part weekly podcast series that explores the stories that took the national sports world by storm. The newest episode, The Mysterious Disappearance That Changed A Super Bowl, dives into how Oakland Raiders star center Barret Robbins missed Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003 after 24 hours of partying. 

Barret Robbins was just a junior at Texas Christian when his manic episodes began. 

A potent mixture of steroids, alcohol and marijuana left the future NFL offensive lineman in a daze. It felt like he was sleepwalking. Driving to Austin from his school in Fort Worth, not really knowing what he was doing, seeking some level of attention, he smashed the window of a car dealership. 

Robbins had no intention of taking anything. But it looked like he was trying to burglarize the place. So, Austin police arrested him. It was so out of character, his TCU coaches, including current Redskins tight ends coach Pete Hoener, weren’t sure what to make of the episode. 

“My first inclination on something like that with him was ‘Man, he must have been really drunk,’” Hoener told NBC Sports Bay Area for the sixth episode of NBC’s Sports Uncovered podcast. “You know, been with the wrong person or something.”

Robbins went to jail and then to rehab before being allowed to play his senior year at TCU. But it was the beginning of a descent that continued long after Robbins failed to post for the Raiders’ appearance in the Super Bowl against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2003. 

The latest Sports Uncovered podcast by NBC Sports takes a look at Robbins' infamous Super Bowl disappearance and what has happened to him since then. Listen to the full episode below or by subscribing wherever you get your podcasts:

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Who knows if the outcome would have changed? Oakland lost 48-21. But Robbins’ life has never been the same. One of the best offensive linemen in football was out of the NFL by 2004 and left alone to deal with the depression and bipolar disorder that plagued him since college. 

The incident at the car dealership led to a diagnosis of depression by the TCU medical staff. Robbins’ story is difficult to listen to. He spoke with NBC Sports Bay Area for a 2011 interview that serves as the basis for the podcast, but otherwise few know his whereabouts now, including his former Raiders teammates. 

Robbins told NBC Sports Bay Area he likely had episodes before that one in college. But nothing where he ended up in trouble. It wouldn’t stay that way. He managed a nine-year career in the NFL before things fell apart. 

That saddens Hoener, who left TCU in 1997 and has spent the past 20 years as an assistant in the NFL, including nine with Rivera on the Carolina Panthers’ coaching staff and again this season with the Redskins. 

Hoener knew Robbins when he was just a teenager. The answer when odd things happened to a player back then was he must be drinking too much. Robbins just didn’t have the same support system that would be in place today for players at almost any level of football. Mental health is treated so much differently now. It might have made a difference for Robbins. 

“I think the thing that’s come of all this is there’s much better communication now with the medical staff and psychologists,” Hoener said. “And everybody up through the college level – maybe even the high school level – up through our level. So that a lot of those things don’t slip through.”

Want more Sports Uncovered? Check out Sean Taylor, the NFL superstar we didn't get to know, also part of the Sports Uncovered podcast series.

To never miss an episode, subscribe to Sports Uncovered and get every episode automatically downloaded to your phone. Sports Uncovered is also available on the MyTeams app, as well as on every major podcasting platform: AppleGoogle PodcastiHeartStitcherSpotify, and TuneIn

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