Redskins

Georgia, Nebraska seek redemption in Cap One Bowl

Georgia, Nebraska seek redemption in Cap One Bowl

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) Georgia coach Mark Richt wants the lasting memory his team has of this season to be a positive one.

Nothing will give the sixth-ranked Bulldogs a second chance to get back the 5 yards they came up short in their SEC championship game loss to Alabama.

Still, Richt is hoping that Tuesday's Capital One Bowl against equally redemption-minded Nebraska will be a huge initial step.

``There's always a scene in the locker room after the game, and I'm going to be addressing seniors for the very last time,'' Richt said. ``You want that last memory to be a good one. That's a big motivating factor for me and I think it probably is for anyone who's thinking `Hey, this might be my last ball game.'''

On the other side of the field will be a Nebraska team that has been asked ad nauseam this week about how it could possibly get over its humiliating 70-31 loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game.

Like Georgia, Nebraska also enters the postseason with a two-game bowl losing streak. It's why Cornhuskers coach Bo Pelini hasn't sugarcoated at all this week the reality of the disappointment his team carries with it into this game.

``No, matter what happens...you'll never wipe that taste out of your mouth,'' Pelini said. ``That isn't going away, regardless of what happens (Tuesday). To me life is about opportunities. It's about challenges. It's what drives me and it's why I'm in this profession. It's why I do what I do and why the players play.

``When it was presented to me of which opportunity we were going to take, we took the one we thought was the biggest challenge for our team.''

Their previous shortcomings aside, both teams can also achieve program milestones with a win Tuesday.

Only two previous Georgia teams have recorded 12 victories in a season, and Nebraska is trying for its first 11-win season since 2001.

``Definitely looking forward to it. It's been kind of an up and down year, but I am just excited to play against Georgia,'' Nebraska senior running back Rex Burkhead said. ``They have a great defense, great team and I'm just ready to get back out there with my team and have another chance to go out with a bang.''

Burkhead only appeared in seven games this season as he battled a left knee injury that kept him on the sidelines at different points this season.

It put the Cornhuskers primary rushing duties on junior quarterback Taylor Martinez and sophomore running back Ameer Abdullah, who led the team with 1,089 yards. Martinez had a team-high 10 rushing scores. Freshman Imani Cross also chipped in seven touchdowns.

``They have done a tremendous job,'' Burkhead said. ``You know they had a great off season just to prepare for this season. I think you see them playing a lot faster this year just seeing things quicker, and that's probably the biggest strides they made from last year, and it's awesome to watch. I didn't play for a lot of games this year, so it was just kind of cool seeing them develop and mature throughout this year and showcasing their abilities and what they can do.''

Now Burkhead and company will combine to try to exploit a Georgia defense that had the eighth-ranked passing defense in the country (surrendering just 173.5 yards per game), but a rushing defense that gave up 177.8 yards on the ground.

Nebraska's rushing defense was even worse, giving up 194.9 yards per game.

Georgia defensive end Garrison Smith thinks the key, though, will be keeping a throwing and running threat like Martinez off balance.

``It's just going to be hard to contain him,'' he said. ``Everybody is just going to have to give our all and give hundred percent, give our best to get after them, which is hard when you are playing such a great player like him.''

That said, Bulldogs sophomore defensive end Ray Drew said he and his teammates welcome the opportunity to matchup up with the Cornhuskers' multi-pronged attack.

``We respect Nebraska,'' said Drew. ``As usual, we fear no one but respect everyone. I think we know what we need to do down here to leave with a `W'.''

Taking a cue from his coach, Murray said like Richt, he wants Tuesday to be a celebration for the Bulldogs' seniors.

That list includes junior linebacker Jarvis Jones, who could make the jump to the NFL this offseason.

``I know all the underclassmen really want to send them off the right way,'' Murray said. ``Like I said, I know me personally, I have yet to win or be part of a winning bowl game, so I really want to win. And I am going to do what I can to make sure this offense and this team are ready to go.''

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Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter athttp://www.twitter.com/khightower

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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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