It didn’t take long for new Redskins head coach Ron Rivera to make his mark on the organization.
Thursday afternoon Rivera held his introductory press conference where he talked about accountability and culture change. By Thursday night, the ping pong tables had been removed from the Redskins locker room.
I’m sad to say, but @Russellmania621 will be happy to hear, the table is officially out of the locker room. It’s been donated to a sheep farm where it has lots of space to run, just like where @staciesundberg took our black lab Prince when I was 7.#WPMOYchallenge SUNDBERG https://t.co/8vTzMXGElw— Nick Sundberg (@NickSundberg) January 3, 2020
While Sundberg is likely joking about the sheep farm, he’s not joking about the ping pong table’s disappearance. A source tells NBC Sports Washington that the ping pong table and a shuffleboard table was also removed from the locker room.
Let’s clear a few things up about both games.
It didn’t seem like that shuffleboard table got used all year, and maybe not last year either. A very informal media poll suggested that the shuffleboard table hadn’t been regularly used since DeSean Jackson left the team after the 2016 season. D-Jacc liked the shuffleboard table and could organize a game quick.
The ping pong tables have been more of a lightning rod, mainly because the highly recognizable “knock/knock” noise of the paddles and board was often audible during player interviews in the locker room. Sundberg and the other specialists played more ping pong than anybody, and by a wide margin. Why? Because the punter, kicker and long snapper don’t have as many team meetings as everyone else.
In the last two months, however, the ping pong tables became a spot for all members of the team. Defensive linemen had a competitive doubles match going. Terry McLaurin had taken over as the best player after the three specialists and then Case Keenum.
For an awful team dealing with a fired coach and a very uncertain future, the ping pong table was one spot where players seemed to have fun.
This is not a defense of the games in the locker room. If Rivera wants them gone, good, get rid of them.
Culture can be hard to identify, but Rivera is tasked with changing it at Redskins Park. That means some feelings will get hurt, and frankly, much of that is probably overdue.
But in many ways, the ping pong table was demonized far more than a 10-foot piece of wood ever deserved. The ping pong table never missed a tackle or jumped offsides.
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