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Sports Uncovered: Joe Gibbs' return draws parallels to Michael Jordan's 'I'm back'

Sports Uncovered: Joe Gibbs' return draws parallels to Michael Jordan's 'I'm back'

It’s rare for a sports fan to see a legend — like, a certified, once-in-a-lifetime, worship-the-ground-that-person-walks on legend — grace their favorite team.

It’s even rarer for a sports fan to see that legend grace their favorite team, retire from their favorite team — and then, one day, come back to their favorite team again.

That second thing is something both Bulls supporters and Redskins devotees can relate to. 

In the debut episode of NBC Sports’ brand new Sports Uncovered podcast, Michael Jordan’s first memorable return from retirement is chronicled. While his “I’m back” statement was as brief as it gets, the impact he would make after releasing it was anything but. 

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Now, while Joe Gibbs’ second stint with the Burgundy and Gold didn’t register on a national, much less an international, scale like Jordan’s second run in Chicago did, it did completely reinvigorate the region and everyone who cared about football in Washington.

To be fair, I was only 10 years old when Gibbs 2.0 began, making it impossible to grasp what that shocking move truly meant. That said, I remember the way my mom reacted when she heard the news, and the reverence with which she spoke about the head coach is something that sticks with me. We went out to walk our dog around the block right after she found out, and she couldn’t stop talking about the leader and the man he was.  

When I ask my coworkers or other folks who were invested in those dominant, Gibbs-led Redskins teams during his first go-round how they felt after hearing there’d be more, that same reverence is evident in their voices, too. It makes me wish I was older when Dan Snyder brought Gibbs back. I would’ve loved to have been swept up in that kind of excitement.

Unfortunately, while Jordan would go on to notch yet another three-peat with the Bulls, Gibbs couldn’t come close to replicating his first tidal wave of success and glory. In four seasons, he made the playoffs twice. For the Redskins in the 2000s, that’s about as good as it gets. For him, however, it was modest.

But no one knew that would be the ending when Gibbs’ return first became a reality. All Redskins fans knew in early January of 2004 was that they were getting their Hall of Famer back. That alone was its own victory. 

Nowadays, whenever a star calls it quits, one of the first questions that often gets asked is, “What are the chances they come back?” Well, Gibbs did come back. The sequel wasn’t better than the original, obviously, but the fact that a sequel existed at all is still remarkable.

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One analyst explains why Redskins' financial value won't decrease with name change

One analyst explains why Redskins' financial value won't decrease with name change

As it stands now, the Washington Redskins are one of the most valuable sports franchises in the world. According to Forbes, the team is worth a whopping $3.4 billion -- the 14th most-valuable franchise in all of sports, and the fifth most valuable team in the NFL.

With the team currently conducting an internal review of the moniker, it's worth wondering if a new name would hurt the value of the team. According to Randy Vataha -- the president of Game Plan LLC., which helps the service of helping people buy and sell sports franchises -- it shouldn't.

"I don't think it will really hurt the team's value ultimately," Vataha said to NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay.

Vataha explained that each franchise's actual name has little to do with its value.

"We're big believers and have a lot of data that indicates that yes, branding is important, yes, names are important in a lot of ways, but what's really important is the size and the demographics of the market," Vataha said.

The analyst gave the example of New York sports franchises, such as the Knicks and Rangers, and how they are consistently two of the most valuable teams in all of sports. Why? Because they play in New York City.

"The New York teams are all the top teams in every league," Vataha said. "The NFL is a little different because of how they share revenue, but the New York teams are always at the top, not because of the names of the teams. It's because of the marketplace.

"You'll have a lot of people, you'll have a lot of social media, you'll have a lot of political commentary back and forth," Vataha continued. "But at the end of the day, the core value is decided by the size of the market and the demographics of the market."

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This past week, a report surfaced from the Washington Post that the Redskins three minority owners were looking to sell their stake in the team, citing that they were "not happy being a partner" with Redskins majority owner Dan Snyder. The three minority owners -- Fred Smith, Dwight Schar and Robert Rothman -- make up approximately 40 percent of the team's ownership group.

Vataha said he understands both sides of the argument surrounding the team. Additionally, he said that the safest financial decision for the team would be to keep the name, despite all the public backlash they've received over the past couple of weeks.

RELATED: VATAHA DOESN'T BELIEVE SNYDER WILL BE FORCED OUT

However, immediately after, Vataha emphasized once more that he doesn't envision the name change truly making a big difference value-wise.

"I understand the arguments on both sides pretty well," Vataha said. "But I think from the financial standpoint, the safest thing is never change it. But, on the other hand, I don't think it'll be a big hit to value any way at all."

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Fred Smoot laughs at Asante Samuel's dig at Darrell Green: 'Darrell will always be cornerback royalty'

Fred Smoot laughs at Asante Samuel's dig at Darrell Green: 'Darrell will always be cornerback royalty'

On July 4, former NFL cornerback Asante Samuel got the Twitter-sphere and Redskins nation fired up when he sent out a tweet questioning what was so special about former Washington defensive back Darrell Green, who is a Hall-of-Famer.

Though Tony Dungy and others chimed in to show Samuel what he was missing, the 11-year veteran couldn't quite grasp why his statement was so surprising. Samuel's argument was based on the fact that in a career that spanned two decades, Green "only" had 54 interceptions to show for it.

RELATED: ASANTE SAMUEL QUESTIONS DARRELL GREEN'S GREATNESS

For former Redskins defensive back Fred Smoot, Samuel's claim that the numbers dictated who Green was as a player is just wrong. Smoot, who played two seasons alongside Green, believes Samuel was a victim of not understanding how football has changed over the years.

In modern times, a pass-heavy league not only makes interceptions more common but makes the stat a way to grade defensive backs. When Green dominated the field, the league didn't play out the same way.

“First of all, Darrell played in a league that ran the ball most of the time," Smoot said on NBC Sports Washington's Redskins Talk and Friends. "Second of all, he took on the number one receiver all the time. They never threw balls his way."

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Because the NFL wasn't as pass-heavy back in the 80s and 90s, Green didn't have a wild number of interceptions to show for his success. But, that didn't mean he wasn't making an impact and performing as one of the best at the position. As Smoot explains, Green would excel in numerous categories that sometimes don't show up on paper.

“Darrell did more than just intercept the ball, he shut down one side of the field, actually return a lot of punts, scored a lot on defense. And he tackles well, all-around defensive back," Smoot said. 

Another stellar trait of Green's was his speed. Though there are no official measures of his 40-yard times back when he played, there are reports that it hovered in the 4.1-area, giving him a reputation as one of the fastest players in football. Even at age 50, he casually ran a 4.43. That speed was valuable on the field, as he could stick with any receiver and chase down players from behind.

Smoot saw the speed first-hand, even when Green was getting toward the end of his career at the age of 41. He recalled racing Green during practice, and even though Smoot was nearly 20 years younger, he couldn't keep up.

“I raced that old man and lost to that old man," Smoot said. "Right then I was about to retire from football. I was about to throw my cleats away.”

Green may not have averaged a large interception total, but that stat is only a small part of his NFL career. As Smoot showed, there was so much more brilliance to him as a player. That's why, to Smoot, Green's name always comes up when discussing the best at the position.

“You want to talk about one of the best cornerbacks of all time? That’s how the list starts out. Deon Sanders, Darrell Green, so and so," Smoot said. "Darrell will always be, how should I say, cornerback royalty.”

Green also has a bust in Canton to show for his work.

“I don’t have to say anything about Darrell Green, he’s a Hall-of-Famer for a reason," Smoot said. 

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