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The DMV makes the perfect place for an NFL Bubble

The DMV makes the perfect place for an NFL Bubble

Sports are back in the United States but with different levels of success.

To avoid COVID-19 infection, the NBA and NHL instituted strict bubbles where players, coaches, media and staff are sequestered away from the general public. Major League Baseball eschewed the bubble model and instead is asking its players to be responsible as they travel the country for games. It's not working well, and in the case of the Miami Marlins, it's been awful. 

So with the NFL season scheduled to start in about six weeks, what would be the best course of action?

The league already decided against the bubble concept with the biggest reason being that NFL rosters are just too large. 80-man teams combined with coaches and medical staff, then add scouts and front office personnel and perhaps media on top? That could easily be 150-people per team, and the league has 32 teams. That's almost 5,000 people to hole up somewhere; it's a logistical nightmare.

But as the NHL and NBA seasons begin largely without incident, and as the MLB season seems on the edge of complete unravel, maybe it's time to re-examine the concept of an NFL bubble. 

One city - or region - looks particularly prepared to handle that prospect. Where?

The DMV.

Within about 40 miles between Baltimore and Washington D.C. hold three large stadiums equipped to handle NFL football:

  1. FedEx Field where the Washington Football Team plays (Landover, MD)
  2. M&T Bank Stadium where the Ravens play (Baltimore, MD)
  3. Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium where the University of Maryland plays (College Park, MD)

Change the criteria a bit and three more stadiums could be options

  1. Audi Field where D.C. United plays (Washington D.C.)
  2. Nats Park where the Washington Nationals play ( Washington D.C.)
  3. Oriole Park at Camden Yards where the Baltimore Orioles play (Baltimore, MD)
  4. Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium where the Naval Academy plays (Annapolis, MD)


That's seven stadiums within 40 miles, plenty to handle the full slate of NFL games over the course of a 16-game season. Especially once the games get spread out over Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

The sod on some of the fields could become a problem, but installing FieldTurf would have to be considered a real option as the country deals with much bigger problems during a global pandemic. There's also the issue of scheduling football games at Nats Park and Camden Yards while baseball season wraps up, but with flexibility from the NFL those issues could be resolved. Not to mention that baseball will be over by late October anyway and the NFL season should continue into the holiday season. 

Why else would the greater D.C. area work?

There are plenty of hotels and particularly in Washington a local knowledge base of handling large events. The NFL could almost set up divisional pods in the area between Northern Virginia, D.C. and Maryland. Practice space could be at a premium, but there are plenty of smaller colleges and elite high schools with fields that could handle NFL practices. 

Let's be clear - this isn't ideal - but it might be the best way to actually get an NFL season in the middle of the Coronavirus catastrophe. 

Other cities could make sense - notably Los Angeles. 

L.A. has plenty of stadiums too - The Coliseum, The Rose Bowl, Home Depot Center - but the biggest question would be the availability of the brand new SoFi Stadium. If that's ready, and it's close, LA makes more sense than D.C. While the projected open date for the facility was July 2020, it's still not officially open, and that creates a problem for LA.

Plus playing on the West Coast presents television problems. The NFL needs games in its traditional Sunday 1 p.m. window. That would be a 10 am kickoff, and players would hate it. 

Other big cities present other options. The Dallas/Fort Worth area has big-time stadiums for the Cowboys, SMU and TCU and probably a host of high schools for practice. Seattle boasts stadiums both for the Seahawks and the University of Washington. Of course there are a ton of major football stadiums in the state of Florida, but watch the news; no bubble is going to the Sunshine State. 

Still, most major cities do a better job of sharing stadiums than the D.C. area. New York has one major stadium despite being the biggest city in the country. Same with Chicago. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh both do a better job of sharing one major football stadium among pro teams and college teams. 

It's politics and geography that makes D.C. the best option.  When visiting foreign dignitaries come to town, they stay in high-end hotels. The same kind that NFL players would expect. And the hostility that separates the D.C. and Baltimore markets create for multiple great stadium options with the University of Maryland sandwiched in between. 

This all seems like a long shot. 

The NFL not only wants its teams playing in their home stadiums and working out at their own facilities, but the league wants fans in the stands where possible. That is the polar opposite of a bubble like the NBA has. 

There's also the logistics of NFL teams' practice facilities. These are typically huge spaces with equipment rooms, medical space, giant locker rooms. That would be harder to replicate than finding stadiums for games. 

An NFL bubble happening seems unlikely to happen. Highly unlikely in fact. If it should, however, D.C. would be the best place for it. 

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For Native American activists, Washington NFL name change not the end of their fight

For Native American activists, Washington NFL name change not the end of their fight

It took decades for the football team in Washington to remove the derogatory name from FedEx Field, giving local Native Americans  - and those throughout the United States who had long pushed for change - a win in what seemed like an endless fight. 

"With Mr. Snyder, what put the pressure on him to change the name? Money talks and that's what he realizes. And he realizes that he's fighting a losing battle. And that's the bottom line," Chief of the Piscataway Indian Tribe Billy "Redwing" Tayac said to ABC News.

Residing in Accokeek, Maryland, Chief Tayac has been fighting for a name change since the 1980s when he said he was one of the first plaintiffs in legal action aiming to force Washington to choose another name. After the franchise's field sponsor, FedEx, put public pressure on the organization to change its name - coupled with the national protests against racial injustices - Snyder finally gave in. 

While Chief Tayac's trailblazing efforts laid the groundwork necessary to get to today, modern activists like Laguna Pueblo and Omaha Tribe member Mary Phillips continue to fight for justice.


"And so it's always been, you know [difficult], trying to educate people to understand that this word, this team celebrates actually celebrates the color of my skin by saying that it is red," Phillips said to ABC News' Abby Cruz. "In the grander sense of things, it's so evaporating from people's minds that they don't even realize how racist it really is."

Survivors of generational injustices and discriminatory practices from the United States government, both Chief Tayac and Phillips know the fight isn't over just because the NFL franchise in D.C is now called the Washington Football Team. 

"Whether anybody likes it or not, I'd like to say this is our country. This is where God put us there. And nobody is gonna shove off of it," Chief Tayac said.


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The six weeks that forever changed the Washington Football Team

The six weeks that forever changed the Washington Football Team

For the most part, the month of July is rather quiet for NFL teams. Though training camp begins toward the end, the month acts as a buffer before the news begins to intensify as the season gets underway.

The Washington Football Team's July -- and now the beginning of August -- was anything but that. The team has not played a single snap of football in 2020, and yet still dominated the news cycle for close to six weeks with off-the-field events that never seem to stop. 

The past 39 days have forever changed the franchise in Washington. Things will never truly be the same in Ashburn, Va. Here's a look at the breathtaking timeline of events that have occurred since July 1.

July 1

Owner Dan Snyder has faced pressure over the years to change the moniker that many found offensive, but his stance on the issue never really wavered. That was until the first domino fell on July 1 as a collection of 87 shareholders and investment firms asked major companies, such as Nike, FedEx and PepsiCo, to end any relationship with the team until the name was changed.

The group was worth over $600 billion, and it was clear that the movement to change the name was picking up steam like never before.

July 2

Just one day later, FedEx, which owns the naming rights to Washington's stadium, sent a formal request to the team asking for the name to be changed. FedEx Ceo Frederick Smith is also a minority owner of the team (more on him later).

It didn't end there, as Nike also removed all Washington merchandise from the team store on its website. At this point, it became clear that the companies were not making any sort of empty threats. They wanted the moniker switched, and they wanted it done quickly.

July 3

Realizing the issue was not going away, Washington announces that they will conduct a 'thorough review' of the name

In a statement Redskins owner Dan Snyder said, "This process allows the team to take into account not only the proud tradition and history of the franchise but also input from our alumni, the organization, sponsors, the National Football League and the local community it is proud to represent on and off the field."

A report then surfaced that the review essentially meant that a name change was coming. 

July 4

If a new name was to come, when would it be? That's a question many had at this time. Head coach Ron Rivera shared some insight with the Washington Post, saying that he was hoping a rebrand would come before the season began.

"We want to do this in a positive way," Rivera said.

July 6

More big names, including Target and Walmart, announced that Washington gear will no longer be available for purchase at their websites until the team changed its name. If the pressure wasn't already impacting the speed of a decision on the moniker, it was now.

July 8

Remember Frederick Smith? Here's where he comes back into play. The FedEx CEO and two other minority owners of the team -- Robert Rothman and Dwight Schar -- were reportedly trying to sell their stake in the franchise. Additionally, they tried to get Snyder to sell his majority stake.

That didn't work, and frustration only grew for the three.

Also, Amazon said it would no longer sell Washington merchandise on its website. 


July 10

FedEx continues to demand a name change, now citing that it will remove all signage from the stadium following the 2020 NFL season if something was not done. Washington had a deal with the company through 2025. 

July 13

The day finally comes, and the name is retired -- sort of.

Washington announced that the previous moniker and logo would be more, and then proceeded to use that name and logo numerous times in the press release. 

Either way, it was a day of monumental change for the franchise.

July 14 and 15

In the days following the release, the attention quickly shifted away from the name. This was due to numerous vague teasers from D.C. area reporters implying that a "bombshell" type story was about to drop, and it wasn't going to be good.

Rumors spread like wildfire throughout social media as everyone consistently refreshed Twitter waiting for something to happen.

Longtime team broadcast Larry Michael retired almost out of nowhere at this time, leaving many wondering who was about to be exposed when the news dropped. 

July 16

The Washington Post releases a scathing report that accuses former staff members of serious allegations of sexual harassment toward female employees. Among the names involved were former personnel executives Richard Mann II and Alex Santos, who were fired a week before the news broke. Michael was also included in the claims.

Snyder was not explicitly mentioned in any of the accusations, he was still the man in power that allowed the dysfunction to exist in the organization. However, it is believed that the news will not be enough to force Snyder out of Washington

In the span of 15 days, Washington was in search of a new name and Ron Rivera was in search of a way to break away from the past problems in the organization. 

July 17

A day after the report surfaced, the NFL announced that it will 'take any action' if necessary following the conclusion of the investigation into the culture in Washington.

The team hired attorney Beth Wilkinson to conduct a "deep dive" into the organization the day prior, which raised some skepticism considering franchises typically don't get to choose the personnel for league investigations. 

On the same day, former Washington safety D.J. Swearinger shared screenshots of text messages that were allegedly between him and former head coach Jay Gruden. The messages showed Gruden using explicit and unprofessional language toward Swearinger. Compared to the larger issues, it was a relatively minor fued between two people no longer with the organization. But it did speak to the culture in place at the time. 

With so much going on in Washington, many would not be surprised if Rivera had regrets about taking the job in January. The head coach put that notion to rest explaining that he had none despite the circumstances surrounding the franchise. 

July 18

Since it was announced that the name would be changed, speculation on what that would be took over social media. Warriors and Redtails got the initial support, but Red Wolves quickly became the fan favorite - on social media anyway. Some players also showed some love for the moniker.

Despite the suggestions, Washington showed no signs of a favorite. That left Dwayne Haskins and many others wondering when a new name was coming. 

July 20

Washington hires Terry Bateman as its new executive vice president and chief marketing officer to head up the name change process. Bateman had already worked for Snyder in the past, leaving many to question if things were really going to change in Washington.

July 21

Washington hires former NBC Sports Washington anchor and reporter Julie Donaldson to lead the radio broadcast team, serve in other on-air roles and hold an executive position as senior vice president of media.  Donaldson is set to be the first woman to be a regular member of an NFL team's radio broadcast booth as the franchise takes a step in the right direction.

Former Washington player Logan Paulsen shares a story about how former team executive Bruce Allen would show players a PowerPoint to defend the team's former name.

"You'd get Bruce Allen coming in and he'd give you a presentation about how the Native American tribes, 95% of them support the name," the ex-tight end told the hosts. "You always felt like he was trying to sell you something there."

July 23

Speculation over the new name comes to a halt when the team announces it will be known as the "Washington Football Team" for the 2020 season. The temporary name change allows the team to move on from the past while also taking the time to figure out the next step in the rebrand.

Logos, jerseys and more are unveiled and social media becomes a battling ground for the two factions: Those who like the move and those who believe it was a failure by the organization to not have a new name ready. 


July 24

It is reported that the NFL is investigating Washington again. this time in relation to how recent hirings correspond to the league's "Rooney Rule". The rule requires NFL franchises to consider minority and/or female applications for executive positions within the franchise. 

The Fritz Pollard Alliance had sent inquiries to the NFL and the team regarding their hiring process after Washington announced the hiring of Bateman.

In an on-field surprise, quarterback Alex Smith is cleared for full football activities by his personal doctors, marking an incredible display of perseverance by the veteran after he suffered what many believed to be a career-ending broken leg during the 2018 season. Though he still has a ways to go, Ron Rivera isn't ready to rule out Smith being a part of the team's future plans at quarterback. 

July 25 - August 6

Name suggestions, logo ideas and photoshops flood the internet as fans debate the impending permanent name change. Red Wolves is still winning the popularity contests, but numerous other options exist and have their own levels of support.

Players begin reporting to training camp amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. For the first time in over a month, football-related storylines start to take over. Things seem a bit quiter off the field after erupting for more than three weeks. That calm would not last.  

August 7

Washington running back Derrius Guice is arrested on domestic violence charges and promptly released from the team.  

The release of Guice becomes the latest sign that Rivera is actually following through on changing the culture in Washington, and he's using actions rather than just words.

One of the most promising young players on the roster, a 2018 second-round draft pick who has struggled with injuries but showed such promise on the field late last season, was suddenly gone. In this crazy summer, it hardly matches what came before. But it's worth noting how big this story alone would be in a normal NFL offseason or training camp for most teams. 

Washington Football Team owner Dan Snyder filed defamation lawsuits in India and in Los Angeles to defend against the rumors that spread about his ownership prior to the Washington Post story being released. 

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After Friday's latest round of breaking news, and with the actual season creeping closer to its start date, deciding on the No. 1 quarterback or which wide receivers step up are the storylines expected to be covered in Washington. But, in this summer of uncertainty and change, it's probably better to just wait for the latest bombshell. If the past 39 days are any indication, with a temporary name, a new head coach, an ongoing pandemic and almost daily seismic shifts in the organization, news could break at any second. 

Stay connected to the team with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.