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The Redskins are tied for first place. But the atmosphere doesn't feel so cheery


The Redskins are tied for first place. But the atmosphere doesn't feel so cheery

REDSKINS PARK -- The skies over Ashburn were clear blue Wednesday afternoon. The atmospherics felt far gloomier. Many inside the building at Redskins Park, like Josh Norman and Ryan Anderson, disagree. 

The day’s spotlight wasn’t on the Redskins tied for first place in the NFC East with a Monday Night Football game at Philadelphia on deck. Granted, even that football-focused topic includes heaping doses of melancholy. Over the last 10 days, Washington lost two games and quarterback Alex Smith with a season-ending injury. Other controversies involving Adrian Peterson and D.J. Swearinger popped up. 

Then came Reuben Foster, the highly controversial linebacker the Redskins claimed off waivers Tuesday. Focus on the pivotal game would come later in the week. 

Not for the Redskins players, of course. Beat the Eagles, and the losing skid ends. Its possible first place is all theirs if the Cowboys fall Thursday to the Saints. That’s where the players are keeping their attention. Based on individual or group chats with players, that mindset mainly seemed sincere even as social media posts, newspaper headlines and reporter questions centered on Foster.

“There ain’t no distractions. The only distractions is if you let it distract you,” Anderson told NBC Sports Washington. “It’s a probably a distraction for the media. A lot of rat poison, but that [expletive] ain’t going to distract nothing here because we know what we’ve got to do.”

Still, it’s hard ignoring the current dip and all the surrounding buzz even if Washington held Wednesday’s practice literally inside a bubble.

“I tell people it’s like a misty, hazy dust settles over us like a glooming fog kind of,” Norman told NBC Sports Washington. “It’s like, dude, why is it such a glooming feel or fog that’s hovering over us? We’re 6-5. We’re at the top of our division tied with Dallas. We lost two (in a row), but they had to win three (consecutive games) just to get where we at. It’s not like we’re at the bottom of the pack where the New York Giants are at. We’re not down there. …We’re higher up on the scale where teams would want to be.”

Head coach Jay Gruden spent most of his post-practice press conference gamely answering questions about the organization’s decision to add Foster. The 49ers released Foster Sunday following a domestic abuse allegation over the weekend, his third arrest in 2018. 

The Redskins are worried about football. Questions went elsewhere. The words “Philadelphia” or “Eagles” do not appear in Gruden’s official Wednesday transcript. That’s insane considering the week’s stakes. Based on the headlines, it's not.  

"I think any time you lose a couple of games in a row, you lose a little bit of the luster of being in first place,” Gruden said. “I think it's our job to make sure we gain the confidence back and our swagger back, somehow, someway. We're going to start out by having a good practice on Monday, which we did and today, which we did. … If we can play together as a good football team, be sound fundamentally, play physical football. That's how we won games then we'll be ok."

Coaches around the league drop similar statements weekly. These felt somewhat quaint Wednesday in light of all the headlines. It’s unclear how much say Gruden had in the Foster decision. It’s obvious that his focus is with Monday’s game. Same with the players. The news cycle hasn’t caught up. 

“That should be the topic,” Norman told NBC Sports Washington, referring to the Eagles meeting. “Can’t really focus on the game because of all the extra stuff outside of it. [Reporters] ask questions, and it ends up being the headline more so than the game. It’s like, gosh, man, can we just play a game and we talk about that and how play the opponents instead of all the extra stuff outside? But it comes with the territory I guess.”

The organization put the players in this position with the Foster waiver claim. "We ain’t talking Reuben Foster, but we’re gonna talk about this team," Anderson stated emphatically. 

The team put themselves in this first place tie by winning six games overall -- and losing the last two. The latter part is just life in the NFL, as is dealing with the loss of key players like the starting quarterback. The players accept those realities. They’re also excited about Monday’s opportunity. Everyone else may notice once the fog above Redskins Park lifts. When that happens is anyone’s guess.


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Who is Frederick Smith? Get to know the Redskins' minority owner and FedEx CEO

Who is Frederick Smith? Get to know the Redskins' minority owner and FedEx CEO

When one hears the word "owner" in relation to the Redskins, Dan Snyder's name is the first to come up.

Now, while Snyder has been the Burgundy and Gold's majority owner since 1999, and one real constant in the franchise's past few decades, there are other minority owners involved in the organization. That may not be something many knew, though — until Thursday.

That's when FedEx formally asked the Redskins to change their name on a day that also included Nike removing all of the team's apparel from its website. The CEO of FedEx, Fred Smith, just so happens to be a minority owner of the franchise, too.

So, who exactly is Smith? That's a question many supporters of the organization and followers of the sport now have. Let's try to answer it.


Smith bought a stake in the Redskins back in 2003 along with two other business executives. Those three reportedly purchased 20-percent of the team.

Before that move, Smith had been actively trying to acquire rights for an expansion franchise and even owned the Memphis Mad Dogs of the Canadian Football League. His son, Arthur, is the offensive coordinator for the Titans.


The now 75-year-old has held his position as minority owner for nearly 17 years. 

Smith's biography on the Redskins website can be found here. It focuses solely on his work with FedEx. He founded the company in 1971.

Smith is also the chairman of Alcon Entertainment, which produces films.

In just one day, Smith made more Redskins-related waves than he did in his previous 17 years with Washington. The wait begins to see just how large those waves eventually become. 

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Report: Redskins owner Dan Snyder does not plan to address calls to change team's name

Report: Redskins owner Dan Snyder does not plan to address calls to change team's name

Thursday included numerous new developments in the effort to get the Washington Redskins to change their name. 

FedEx, who holds the naming rights to Washington's stadium, formally asked the team to change their name. FedEx's CEO, Frederick Smith is a minority owner of the Redskins.

Also Nike, the NFL's official uniform supplier, removed all Redskins merchandise from their website after investors reportedly sent letters to them and FedEx urging them to end their relationships with Dan Snyder's franchise unless the team's name is changed. 

The Redskins have yet to respond to these actions, and according to Josina Anderson, Snyder has no official plans to do so. 

Anderson included the team has said internally that no other owner has contributed more to the Native American community monetarily. 


Snyder has long held the stance that he won't change the team's name, but the circumstances following George Floyd's death and the ongoing movement for racial injustice has created quite a bit of noise surrounding the franchise's name. 

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