Nationals

Irish fans, recruits left wondering about Kelly

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Irish fans, recruits left wondering about Kelly

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Notre Dame nose tackle Louis Nix III captured the emotion of just about everyone who follows the Fighting Irish with a simple tweet: ``Didnt see that coming!''

News that coach Brian Kelly had interviewed with the Philadelphia Eagles one day after the Irish were thoroughly beaten 42-14 by Alabama in the BCS title game caught just about everyone by surprise.

The job, after all, has not traditionally been a springboard to the NFL and is viewed by many - at least Notre Dame fans - as a destination job for a deep-pocketed program with one of the most storied histories in college football. And why would anyone leave after coming so close to the national championship?

Nix, who already announced he was skipping the NFL draft and returning to Notre Dame next season, told his followers he wasn't concerned about Kelly's interview.

``Im not worried and you shouldnt be either,'' he tweeted.

The early reaction from Notre Dame recruits indicated they are still committed to the Irish.

``If Kelly leaves!!!!!,,,,, I'm still a domer S/O to my ND fans,'' linebacker Jaylon Smith tweeted.

Cornerback Devin Butler expressed similar feelings, tweeting: ``I committed to a program and school.. Not a coach.'' He then added: ``But I doubt he leaves.''

Still, the interview alone could prove costly. Recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports says Notre Dame was on track to possibly have the top recruiting class this year, but said some recruits will get antsy if Kelly doesn't announce his intention soon. He said other schools probably started calling recruits shortly after the news broke.

``There will be kids looking at other schools now. I don't see that happening unless Kelly's telling them he's not leaving,'' Lemming said.

Kelly, who was believed to be out of the country, originally signed a five-year contract three years ago at a reported $2.5 million a year and was given a two-year extension a year ago. Athletic director Jack Swarbrick told reporters Sunday he had planned to talk with Kelly about extending his contract. Swarbrick did not respond to messages left by The Associated Press at his office or on his cellphone seeking comment. Neither did Kelly's agent, Trace Armstrong.

Kelly told reporters in Florida before the game that Notre Dame was his dream job, but said while he was coaching at Cincinnati he was focused on that. He then added: ``I think that's the same thing with the NFL.''

``I think from my perspective I've got the best job in the country, NFL, college, high school, whatever. I just look at the place that I'm at and thankful for the opportunity that I have,'' he said.

The question is, will he have another opportunity? He is the first Notre Dame coach in recent memory to interview for another job. Former Irish coach Charlie Weis was given a 10-year contract when there were reports the New York Giants might be interested in talking to him.

Former Big Eight Commissioner Chuck Neinas, who has spent years helping coaches and administrators find jobs and recently spent about 10 months as the Big 12 interim commissioner, said it's hard to tell what might motivate a coach to interview for a job.

``Some people might be using this as a stepping stone, others to get their name out, that they're movable,'' he said. ``But I think most people that interview are interested in the position.''

Kelly could be trying to get something more than a better contract, including more money for his assistants, and he has indicated he would like a massive scoreboard that can show video replays and synthetic turf at Note Dame Stadium.

Neinas said he doesn't think most coaches have hidden interests. He said his advice is to interview only if you want the job.

``I tell them, `If you're not interested, don't interview,''' he said.

But sports attorney Darren Heitner says Kelly owed it to himself to at least talk with the Eagles.

``Even if he had no intention of actually accepting that job, it is the most beautiful bargaining chip he has in his possession. Even if the entire time he intended to stay, why not entertain the offer and perhaps get some more money into his pocket?'' he said.

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How to entice Bryce Harper in to re-signing with the Nationals? With food, of course!

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How to entice Bryce Harper in to re-signing with the Nationals? With food, of course!

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach… and if that leads us to Bryce Harper’s potential landing spot, then I present to you the yummiest reasons he should stay with the Washington Nationals.

In a video from TMZ, a paparazzi follows Harper to baggage claim and implores him for any hints toward where he is signing this offseason. The only true answer he got was that Harper likes a place called Steak 48 in Chicago. This surf-and-turf hot spot in the River North neighborhood of downtown Chicago has the audacity to serve “Maryland STYLE lump crab cakes.” Really, Bryce? Will the real thing convince you?!

On that note, let’s start off with the seafood we have to offer. This is the Mid-Atlantic, after all.

How can you work here April-September without eating local crabs in some form? I think that’s impossible. You can choose from hard shell or soft shell, but no shame in either game.

Live Chesapeake blue crabs can be bought at Captain White’s Seafood and other vendors on The Wharf off Maine Avenue. Otherwise, you can sit down and have them steamed for you at Quarterdeck, Ivy City Smokehouse, Bethesda Crab House or Captain Pell’s.

If Harper is more of a soft shell guy, all of those places also serve out-of-the-park crab cakes, but you can’t go wrong with Hank’s Oyster Bar, Old Ebbitt Grill, Chris’ Marketplace, or Clyde’s.

If the star really wants to dive in to local taste, he should eat Chesapeake Bay oysters from the largest estuary in America. My personal favorite selection is at Whaley’s (seafood tower on me, Bryce), but Rapphanock Oyster Bar, The Dabney, Pearl Dive Oyster Palace and Black’s Bar & Kitchen can’t be beat.

I find it hard to believe the team hasn't had an outing at The Salt Line, the lively seafood spot just a short throw from Nats Park where teammate Ryan Zimmerman is an investor and co-owner.

Now that we’ve satisfied Harper’s iron intake, let’s break down his protein. In order to keep the superstar here, I want to make sure he knows that D.C. cares about providing a well-rounded diet.

Barbecued meats in general around here are delectable. Sitting in juxtaposition between the north and south, D.C. restaurants bring a mash-up of styles of smoked and sauced meats. Favorites are Federalist Pig, Hill Country, Fat Pete’s and Hardy’s BBQ truck.

However, if Bryce Harper show he’s as invested in authentic Nationals fans as our season tickets are in him, he should really pick up a half-smoke, the district’s original recipe for a spicy, thicker pork and beef dog that’s aggressively seasoned and sometimes served with chili sauce.

Could you imagine Harper making his announcement to stay over a half-smoke at Ben’s Chili Bowl? I think even the panda statue would cry tears of joy.

Another hyper-local taste is mumbo sauce. While proven not originally from here, D.C. natives are enthusiastic about the special sauce. Yum’s is pretty well-known for carrying it.

Time for dessert! I think we can all agree that in the past 10 years, cupcakes have become iconic in the district with Georgetown Cupcakes, Baked & Wired and Sprinkles all having a home in Georgetown. To settle the debate, Baked & Wired is best. They are ranked #1 on Yelp if you don’t believe my own palette.

But what if it’s game night, you ask? D.C. has it’s hearty share of restaurants that are open even after extra innings. The Diner, Kramerbooks, Mandu, New Big Wong, Old Ebbitt Grill, Oyamel Cocina Mexicana, Amsterdam Falafelshop and Jumbo Slice are all here to keep you warm at night no matter what you’re craving post-victory. Need I go on?

Bryce reassured Nats fans and TMZ that he is “still a National right now.” Better eat these while you can, Bryce, or you’ll be sorry you didn't sign in one of the best food cities in the MLB.

Do you have any local food or restaurants you think will convince Bryce Harper to stay with the Washington Nationals this offseason? Send them to @NBCNationals or @rmhopmayer. Maybe we can throw together a friends-giving or holiday dinner for those that want him to stay our beloved Guest of Honor.

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Josh Norman wants to play 'early Santa,' will give away Redskins tickets

Josh Norman wants to play 'early Santa,' will give away Redskins tickets

Josh Norman caused quite a stir with his comments Sunday about the atmosphere at FedEx Field, and the Redskins cornerback made it clear he plans to do his part in making sure the stadium is packed for Sunday's game against the Texans. 

Norman told reporters Thursday he's going to be giving away "40 or 50" free tickets for the Houston game, online and perhaps even in person.

"Yes, I will be giving out free tickets," he said. "I'll be doing it on my socials as well, I think I'll probably post tonight or something about it."

"Who knows, you may see me coming out and being an early Santa somewhere in the mall or something, just handing out tickets."

And if you are one of the lucky fans who gets a ticket from "Santa Norman," he has specific instructions on how you should behave at Sunday's game:

"Whoever get(s) them, we want them loud and just obnoxious. Just really obnoxious."

Norman joins several Redskins players who have promised to give away tickets to the Texans game.

It may be November, but the Christmas spirit is alive and well at Redskins Park. 

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