Redskins

Owner says Dolphins have keepers at coach and QB

Owner says Dolphins have keepers at coach and QB

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross thinks years of instability in the coaching and quarterback jobs are over, and the team's losing will end soon, too.

Speaking with reporters Monday, Ross said he was pleased about the work of first-year coach Joe Philbin and rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, even though the Dolphins went 7-9 to finish below .500 for the fourth consecutive season.

``The two biggest ingredients in a winning team are your coach - and I think we have our head coach - and second is a quarterback you can build around,'' Ross said. ``This is a quarterback-centric league, and you see every great team that is there consistently has a quarterback. I think we have our quarterback.

``Once you are there, it is a lot easier, I think, to put the building blocks around them.''

Ross believes those blocks can be in place in 2013. When asked the organization's plan for the coming year, he laughed and said: ``Win.''

Philbin was hired a year ago as a first-time head coach - and Miami's seventh coach in eight years - after Ross unsuccessfully courted Jim Harbaugh in 2011 and Jeff Fisher in early 2012. While Philbin wasn't the first choice, Ross said he was impressed by the coach's organizational skills on the job, and the way he followed through on the plan he laid out before the season.

``We have a really solid head coach here, and a guy that I think will be here a long time and hopefully bring all those victories that everybody wants,'' Ross said.

Tannehill, the first quarterback drafted in the first round by Miami since Dan Marino in 1983, became the first Dolphins rookie QB to start all 16 games.

``What really impressed me is his intelligence and the type of person he is,'' Ross said. ``He's a high-character guy, and that's what you want.''

Ross completed his purchase of the Dolphins in January 2009, when Bill Parcells was the football czar and Tony Sparano the coach. Parcells stepped down in 2010, and Sparano was fired late in the 2011 season.

But according to Ross, only now does the organization bear Ross' stamp.

``This is really the first time I've really gotten involved,'' he said. ``I didn't select the people that were here before. I was handed a situation that, for one, I was kind of pinned to the wall. I have a lot of respect for Bill, but I didn't put together that organization. I also felt that I should learn a little bit before I started making moves. Making moves for the sake of making moves is sometimes probably the worst move you can make. You want to sit back and really assess the situation, which I was able to do.''

One position of stability for the Dolphins has been general manager Jeff Ireland, who is beginning his sixth year with the team even though many fans consider him the chief culprit for the recent losing.

Ross was asked why Ireland is the lone holdover from the Parcells regime.

``His football intelligence, his knowledge, his hard work,'' Ross said. ``He has the respect of his peers and he is one of the youngest general managers around. I like dealing with youth and enthusiasm. And I think he has the knowledge and desire. He is smart, and he is committed.''

Ireland has the Dolphins well-positioned this offseason, with five of the first 82 draft picks and more than $40 million in cap space. Philbin has said he prefers to build through the draft, and Ross agrees.

``Free agency certainly isn't the answer. We've all seen that,'' Ross said. ``Oftentimes there's a reason why a guy is out there as a free agent.''

But the billionaire real estate developer said he's willing to spend whatever it takes to build a winner.

``Certainly all my resources are there, and if the right players are there, I don't care what it costs,'' Ross said. ``We'll go after them.''

The Dolphins have reached the playoffs only once in the past 11 years, and home attendance is in decline. This season, they ranked fourth-worst in the NFL at 57,379 per game.

``I can understand, when you're not winning, why some people might not show up. We put a winning team on the field, I think we'll fill up the stadium,'' Ross said. ``We're moving in the right direction, and I feel good about it, more so today than I ever have.''

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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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