Redskins

McCarthy stresses positives after loss to Vikings

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McCarthy stresses positives after loss to Vikings

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) As disappointing as their loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday had been - especially since it cost them the NFC's No. 2 seed and a first-round playoff bye - the Green Bay Packers had no time to feel sorry for themselves.

With those same Vikings coming to Lambeau Field on Saturday night for an NFC wild card game, the work week is already underway. And coach Mike McCarthy as already stressing the positives.

``I mean, there's nothing but positives right now,'' McCarthy said at a 7:45 a.m. press conference, on a day when players were technically off but could come to the stadium if they wanted to.

``This is playoff football, and really, yes, we had every intention of winning the game in Minnesota (Sunday). OK, it didn't work. I'm not just fluffing it by, but you have to, because the door is open for the playoffs to begin.

``It's the playoffs. It doesn't matter who we play, where we play them. We feel confident that we're going to get it done and do whatever we need to get it done.''

While the onward-and-upward theme was predictable - ``We have no choice at this point,'' defensive tackle B.J. Raji correctly pointed out - it was also necessary with the shortened work week.

McCarthy said the team would practice Tuesday afternoon, then Wednesday and Thursday mornings, doing all of its normal installations. The players will have a mandatory weightlifting session Tuesday morning, and the team will gather at noon to officially kick off their week.

``We've been through some adversity this year, more so than probably in the past, and I felt like we dealt with it very well throughout the year,'' left guard T.J. Lang said. ``Knowing these guys, these players, these coaches, we're going to be ready to go - get this game out of our minds and get ready to prepare for them next week.''

It will help that the Packers will be prepping for the Vikings for the third time in a month. The Packers won at Lambeau Field, 23-14, on Dec. 2 before Sunday night's 37-34 loss.

``We know who our opponent is. The preparation for our opponent should be pretty clean,'' McCarthy said.

Whether or not the rematch is a good thing was a matter of opinion. In the visitors' locker room at the Metrodome, opinion had been mixed.

``We're in the playoffs now, so you play who you are seeded against. The road got a little tougher having to play on opening weekend, but we've got a home game and that's why you win the division,'' quarterback Aaron Rodgers replied when asked if he wanted a rematch. ``You get to go back home and the game will be a different type of game. They won't have the home-crowd advantage and hopefully that will make a difference.''

Others were anxious to get another shot at the Vikings and running back Adrian Peterson, who followed up a 210-yard effort on Dec. 2 with a 199-yard effort Sunday, which left him eight yards short of Eric Dickerson's 1984 NFL single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards.

``As long as we're in the playoffs, it really don't matter who we play. Obviously, it's a team we play twice a year so it's going to be a lot of recognition out there,'' cornerback Tramon Williams said. ``We've got the Vikings next week, (so) bring them on. Bring them on. Obviously, they have to go to Lambeau and hopefully we can go out and put together a better performance that we did.''

This isn't the first time the Packers have faced their Week 17 opponent the following week in the opening round of the playoffs. At the end of the 2009 season, the Packers went to Arizona for the regular-season finale and knew before kickoff that there would be a postseason rematch the following week. Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt pulled his starters while McCarthy played his, and the Packers won the game that didn't matter. The next week, the Cardinals won in dramatic fashion, advancing with a 51-45 overtime victory.

It's also not the first time the Packers have faced an NFC North opponent in the postseason. In 2004, the Packers swept the Vikings in regular-season play but lost in the wild card round at Lambeau. And in 2010, the Packers split their regular-season series with the Chicago Bears before beating them in the NFC Championship Game to advance to Super Bowl XLV.

In that instance, the Bears could have kept the Packers out of the playoffs by beating them in Week 17 at Lambeau Field. Instead, the Packers won, and the Bears lived to regret it. McCarthy's task is to make sure the Vikings don't return the favor.

``It's different because there's a familiarity. There's a lot more tape. You're watching it over and over and over again. You can call out the plays just as soon as they start,'' McCarthy said. ``Those are the things you have to be cautious of, but at the end of the day playoff football is about fundamentals.

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Three things that may prevent Red Wolves from being the new name, even as it gains popularity

Three things that may prevent Red Wolves from being the new name, even as it gains popularity

If you were to compare Washington's search for a new name to the NCAA basketball tournament — that may be the weirdest sentence in sports journalism history, by the way, so if you want to bail right now, go ahead — then the Red Wolves are like the darling 13-seed that's making a run.

At the start of the team's name review, Red Wolves was not on the radar at all. Other choices, like Warriors and Red Tails, were the primary ones folks were talking about. Even Washington FC was being mentioned ahead of Fred Smoot's favorite.

Now, though, the Red Wolves are relevant — at least in the eyes of the fans. But is that proposal really being considered by Dan Snyder and Ron Rivera?

It's difficult to discern what's truly on the table that belongs to those decision makers, but — and as a new member of the pack, this isn't fun to say — there are some things that suggest that Red Wolves isn't as legit of a contender as many would hope.

These three factors especially come to mind, and while they may dampen the howl of those in love with this particular name, they still need to be brought up.

Rivera's "two names" comment

Back on July 4, just after the franchise announced they'd be reviewing the use of the word "Redskins," Ron Rivera told the Washington Post that he and Snyder had come up with a "couple of names," two of which he "really" liked. 

If those two names, whatever they may be, are still at the top of that pair's list, it doesn't feel like the fans' devotion to Red Wolves will matter as much as they crave it to. The apparent honing in on those replacements happened well before the social media push for the Red Wolves really started.

Is it possible their preferences have since changed? Of course. Is it also possible that Red Wolves is in the group that Rivera approved of early? Sure, but that seems less likely. 

Regardless, for those pumping up just how strong the Red Wolves movement is — and it's quite strong — there's still a fairly good chance the guys heading up this effort trimmed their list down long before the movement even got going. That means this surge may not be as effective as those leading it believe. 

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The desired military tie-in

Another important piece in all of this is Rivera's intent to have the next name honor the military. That's something he made clear in the original statement about the review as well as in that interview with the Post.

Now, before you leave this page to yell on Twitter and Instagram and wherever else you go to yell, yes, there was a Navy helicopter squadron known as the Red Wolves that was active until 2016. So a tie-in does exist.

The point here, however, is that Warriors and Red Tails satisfy this requirement as well. The former is an obvious one — basically anyone in the military is a warrior in some respect — while the latter would pay tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen.

Who knows just how much say Rivera has in this complicated situation, but if his opinion does carry real weight, then it's totally reasonable to expect a name that honors the military in some way. And while landing on the Red Wolves would accomplish that, the two other more mainstream options would, too. 

A potential trademark issue

Some have pointed out that the Arkansas State Red Wolves are in a battle over that name with a Tennessee pro soccer team and are now wondering how that could impact Washington's pursuit of the moniker.

Here's what D.C. trademark lawyer Scott Zebrak told NBC Sports Washington about those kinds of possible problems.

"How closely similar are they in look as well as sound? Because it may be that you have protection for what’s called a composite mark where it’s multiple words together and not one word standing alone. It may be the 'Washington X,' not just 'X.' Those are the kind of confusion issues that you sort through."

That would indicate that Snyder and Co. would have a path to securing the Washington Red Wolves as the replacement for Washington Redskins, but perhaps he'd just want to avoid that fight altogether. Zebrak also explained that while money can help in these kinds of showdowns, whoever has more doesn't always win.

Conclusion

Any of these three factors on their own may not be enough to eliminate Red Wolves, but a combination of them or all three of them could prevent that beloved sobriquet from materializing. Red Wolves has its fair share of positives — it begins with an "R," it would fit in the fight song and it'd be unique — but it's necessary to look at the other side in addition to the bright side.

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Washington's name change talks have reportedly been going on for 'several months'

Washington's name change talks have reportedly been going on for 'several months'

Washington announced it would be retiring the "Redskins" name 10 days after a statement declaring they'd conduct a "thorough review" of its controversial moniker. The review was seemingly in response to key sponsors putting significant pressure on the organization to change its name. 

Around the time of FedEx's formal request for a name change and Nike removing team merchandise from their website was the time reporters started to dig for information regarding a possible name change including NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Dan Snyder and the league had been talking about the team's name for months, according to Rapoport. 

"This has actually been going on for a long time," Rapoport told The Sports Junkies Tuesday. "One thing I know about Dan Snyder, and this was maybe in more so when Bruce Allen was in charge, [he] loves secrecy. He loves to do everything kind of behind closed doors, so these talks were going on for, really months before we knew what was happening.

"On one hand, it's good because it really does show that this is not necessarily something that FedEx and Nike just forced [Washington] to do," he said. These were going on several months before and I'm kind of glad they went in this direction, I think it's the right one."

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Based on commissioner Roger Goodell's statement on July 3, the league had been in contact with Snyder and the organization for a 'few weeks' prior to Washington's "thorough review" announcement. But several months? Yeah, Goodell and Washington definitely left that part out. 

The fact that both the team and the league had a nice head-start on the situation could bode well for those hoping for a new name before the start of the 2020 season. Rapoport even revealed his understanding that a new name would go along with the old name's retirement as sort of a package deal. As we know, this was not the case. 

RELATED: NAME CHANGE EXPECTED TO BE BUTTONED UP BY TRAINING CAMP, PER REPORT

"That's what I was told for probably more than a week," Rapoport said. "When I was kind of tracking this and seeing what's going on it was, 'Alright there's gonna be a name change soon' and then it was 'Alright there's gonna be a name change in 24 hours' and then 'Actually we're just going to retire the name.'"

So for now, the old name getting retired will have to do. 

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