Nationals

Marshall understands strong comments irked some

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Marshall understands strong comments irked some

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) Brandon Marshall understands he might have offended some people with his demand for accountability following the Bears' loss to Green Bay last weekend.

Chicago's star receiver might have won a few allies, too.

``When you make a comment like that, it's almost guaranteed that you're going to rub some people the wrong way, and then there's some people that might respond to it in a positive way,'' he said. ``It's a little bit of both.''

Marshall clearly was more relaxed Wednesday, just a few days after he went off, but these are still tense times for Chicago.

The Bears (8-6) are freefalling after a promising start for the second straight season and are in danger of missing the playoffs for the fifth time in six years.

Coach Lovie Smith's future is in question. The same goes for injured linebacker Brian Urlacher, given his expiring contract, and with the losses mounting, few would appear to be safe at the moment.

``Once the season is over, I think that this organization will take time to let things settle down and figure out what the necessary steps are going forward,'' quarterback Jay Cutler said. ``But as players, we can't worry about that. That can't be in the back of our mind, can't be anything we're concerned with.''

Things are going so poorly at the moment it's hard to believe the Bears were sailing along not too long ago.

They started 7-1 but have dropped five of six since then, and there's no guarantee they'll reach the postseason even if they close with wins at Arizona and Detroit.

The loss to Green Bay was particularly ugly.

Not only did the Packers clinch the NFC North, Chicago managed just 190 yards, and Marshall simply couldn't hold back afterward.

He had an intense glare as tears welled in his eyes and his voice cracked. He said everyone involved with the offense should be held accountable ``even if that means jobs'' and answered a few more questions before walking out of the interview room.

He appeared to be in a better frame of mind on Wednesday. Asked who should be held accountable, Marshall joked, ``Reporters.''

``We can't keep making the same mistakes,'' he said.

He pointed the finger at himself, saying he needs to do a better job blocking and running routes.

``I think he's looking at what he can do better to help us win,'' offensive coordinator Mike Tice said. ``I'm glad to hear him soul-searching and trying to find a way because it means something to him.''

Marshall was also asked if he was admonished by management or the coaches for his post-game comments, and his answer was vague.

``Well, maybe that was a comment that maybe I should have kept to myself and kept in-house,'' Marshall said. ``And with that being said, any response I got from anybody in the organization, I'll keep that private.''

Marshall said he's trying to be more of a leader than he was with Denver and Miami.

He said he's been reading books on the subject, studying documentaries about Ray Lewis and Michael Jordan, trying to glean what he can from two legendary players.

It's not easy, though, when the losses are mounting and a promising season is slipping away.

Marshall is second to Detroit's Calvin Johnson with 1,398 yards receiving and leads the league with 107 receptions, but Chicago's offense has been out of sync all season.

The Bears rank 29th in that area, and that's not the way they envisioned it.

They've relied so heavily on Marshall, and other than the occasional promising flash by rookie Alshon Jeffery, the other receivers aren't contributing much.

Some of that might be on Cutler and the play-calling, but it's mostly on them, whether they're dropping passes or simply not getting open.

Meanwhile, Marshall said he's trying to lead through his words and his actions.

``It is definitely tough sometimes when things don't go the way you expect them to go,'' he said. ``It gets frustrating, especially when the person that may be in that role is really passionate and really loves this sport. This game has done a lot for me. I remember when I first got here, I told you guys that the NFL saved my life. I look at where I come from, from a boy, the environment. I look at my journey's past six years. If it wasn't for the NFL, I don't know where I'd be. And now, I'm starting to see a difference in my family and my community. People are changing. I'm getting phone calls from around the league, guys asking for counseling as far as how to attack mental illness or different situations. This is a new season for me on and off the field. You just have to stay on the journey.''

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Nationals cancel 2021 Winterfest due to COVID-19

Nationals cancel 2021 Winterfest due to COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic will prevent fans from attending Nationals games during the 2020 season and it appears will also cost them an annual offseason tradition.

The Nationals announced Wednesday their plans to cancel Winterfest 2021. The convention was originally scheduled for January 2021.

"Due to the continued uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to cancel Winterfest 2021, which was scheduled to be held in January," the team said in a statement. "We know how important this event is to our fans. That said, we look forward to offering a variety of alternative opportunities for our community to come together to celebrate our team."

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Details regarding the alternative opportunities are unknown as of this writing. 

In the meantime, Washington will continue to play its 2020 season without fans. They are 4-5 entering a series with the Orioles Friday and had to take four days off after the Marlins experienced a COVID-19 outbreak within their clubhouse and the Nats' series with Miami was postponed. 

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Making a case for Warriors as Washington Football Team's new name

Making a case for Warriors as Washington Football Team's new name

It's been several weeks since the Washington Football Team announced it was retiring its former name and logo after more than 80 years. Ever since FedEx became the first known sponsor to formally ask Washington to change its name, fans have taken to social media to voice some of their favorites among potential replacements. I spoke with several marketing experts about a few of the fan-generated names, and will use their responses to make a case for some of the most popular suggestions. This is the case for Warriors.

Case for: Washington Warriors

When it comes to the Washington Football Team, developing a new brand has as much to do with separating itself from the previous identity as it does creating a new one.

While the team’s previous moniker provided a sense of pride and joy to some people, it was considered derogatory by others. Those offended by the name had expressed resentment for decades before the team finally decided to take action this summer. But the team only did so after its bottomline was at risk of taking a hit by corporate sponsors threatening to end their relationships with the team.

If Washington wants people to take its rebrand seriously and view it as more than a money-saving play, the team will need to completely distance itself from Native American imagery. That being considered, is Warriors a good choice as the replacement name? It depends, says Tim Derdenger, associate professor of marketing and strategy at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business.

“It depends on which direction you go with it,” Derdenger said. “I’ve read things that they want to keep the feather and go in that direction as opposed to a military warrior, more of the Indian warrior. And if they do it the latter, they’re completely missing the mark on why they’re changing their name.”

CONCEPTS: TOP 5 NEW FAN-GENERATED WASHINGTON WARRIORS LOGOS

This conundrum highlights the different things that have to be considered when undergoing a name change. It isn’t just the name; it’s also the logo, the branding on team gear and uniforms, the stadium atmosphere, the fan experience, and so much more. If the team was able to rebrand itself as the Warriors without singling out a specific race or group of people, the name could work. The Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association have a great brand and don’t use human imagery at all, going with the Bay Bridge as their primary logo.

Matt White, president of WHITE64, pointed to Washington Football Team owner Dan Snyder's background in advertising and branding as a reason he thinks the team could pull it off.

“I think what you have to do is, do it in a thoughtful, logical manner, where you’re hiring a firm, which he has relationships with that can really do a great job,” White said.

The option for thoughtful branding exists in a way for "Warriors" that it doesn’t for a name like "Braves." Some fans had tossed around the latter as an option because of its history as the Washington franchise’s original name for one season in 1932, when the team was still located in Boston. But that’s a piece of history most fans likely forgot, if they ever knew it. And a Brave, by definition, is specifically a Native American warrior. The name doesn’t allow for a change in branding the same way Warriors does.

“The Cleveland Indians are already being asked to change their name. The Atlanta Braves apparently are even being looked at with that,” White said. “And again, there’s gotta be a solution that doesn’t offend somebody but that can still capture the spirit.”

CONCEPTS: TOP 5 NEW FAN-GENERATED WASHINGTON WARRIORS UNIFORM DESIGNS

That's where Warriors could be used, like Braves, to appease the base of fans who never wanted to part with the old moniker. However, Brad Nierenberg, the CEO of RedPeg Marketing, thinks choosing that name is also a choice to please those particular fans over the people who want to see a clean break. 

“If you’re gonna stay close with the Redskins, I think you’re gonna be staying with a fan base that ... you’re gonna placate the challenge to changing the name, then the Warriors and Braves are gonna be that next step,” Nierenberg said.

“I think there’s gonna be people saying they didn’t go far enough. That’s my gut.”

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This is where everything else that accompanies the name change becomes so vital. Because while it’s likely true everyone won’t be happy with Warriors, it’s possible to win over a few more people with the proper branding and imagery.

"The logo is then going to be the key part,” Derdenger said. “And what that logo will look like and how it connects back to the military warrior.

“I can’t right now see in my head what a Warriors logo looks like. ... But they have to go away from the connection to the Native Americans.”

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