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Diehard Redskins fan converts lawn into insane Redskins shrine

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Diehard Redskins fan converts lawn into insane Redskins shrine

BY PETER HAILEY

Clevane Gillespie Sr. is used to having people knock on his door. 

That's because the North Chesterfield, Va. resident has quite the attraction on his front lawn -- or, should we say, his front lawn is quite the attraction. And everyone -- from his neighbors, to local news outlets, and even some members of the police force -- come by to check it out.

Ever since 2009, Gillespie, a self-proclaimed "lifelong" Redskins fan, has turned his yard into a colorful, 3D shrine to the Burgundy and Gold. And this season's edition is particularly eye-catching:

 

"Each year, I make it more unique," Gillespie said in a phone interview about his lawn. "First it started flat. Then each year, I raised it by a foot. Then I put it on a slant. And then I asked myself, 'Let me see if I can do it in 3D.'"

Washington has been Gillespie's favorite team for as long as he can remember. Growing up in North Carolina, he said the Redskins were the franchise he would see each Sunday.

"Back on that little black-and-white screen, the helmets with the little 'R's' on 'em were all I ever saw."

The 2015 version of Gillespie's lawn is especially impressive, but it wasn't a project that involved much teamwork. Gillespie said the lawn took somewhere between two-and-a-half and three months to complete -- and he did it mostly on his own.

"My routine is that I wake up around 6 in the morning, and sometimes, I work until 9 at night, if you can believe that. I love to design," he said. 

There is one person who is around to watch Gillespie's create his masterpiece, though, and that's his wife Bettie (she, too, is a 'Skins fan. She tells everyone she pretty much has to be after marrying Clevane). Her lone job is to make sure that the 56-year-old takes water breaks and doesn't tire himself out.

The whole creation is mulch, according to Gillespie. The reason for that is because, back in 2007, he was involved in a landscaping accident that injured his back and caused him to lose control of his left arm. After a lengthy surgery, Gillespie had to learn to re-use the arm, and while doing so, got tired of taking care of his grass. So when he started building his yearly shrines, he decided keeping it 100% mulch was the best way to approach it.

When talking to Gillespie, his optimism and passion is immediately evident, even through the phone. That optimism carries over into his expectations for the franchise he dedicates his property to, as well, as he sees the Burgundy and Gold doing better than almost everyone expects them to.

"I believe we can win 10 games," Gillespie predicted. "I believe RG3 is going to have a coming out season, too. I really believe we'll win 10 games."

If Gillespie does this much yard work for a team who's won just seven times over the past two seasons, one has to wonder how much effort he'll put in if they end up performing the way he predicts. And if the Redskins ever win a Super Bowl?

Gillespie will probably need a bigger lawn. 

Photos courtesy of Atron Thorne

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Kyler Murray is 'making a mistake' choosing football over baseball, according to Joe Theismann

Kyler Murray is 'making a mistake' choosing football over baseball, according to Joe Theismann

Joe Theismann wants Kyler Murray to have a "long, happy career" — as a professional baseball player.

In an interview with NBC Sports Washington, the former Redskins QB was asked what he thought of Murray's choice to pursue his NFL dreams over his MLB dreams for now. He didn't hold back.

"I think that he should choose baseball," Theismann said. "I think that he would struggle in the NFL."

As of now, many mock drafts are projecting the Heisman Trophy winner to be selected in the first round. His believers see him as an electric option who's entering a league perfectly suited for his skillset. 

Theismann is not in that camp, though.

"I understand a lot of guys work from the 'gun. You're away from the line of scrimmage," he explained. "But, sooner or later, defensive coaches in this league are going to figure out how to keep you in the pocket. And if you can't throw from the pocket, or you can't see from the pocket, it's going to become a problem."

Murray's height, which Theismann touched on, is a main concern for those skeptical of how he'd handle life in the NFL. Of course, being in the 5-foot-9 range matters far less on a MLB diamond.

Theismann also thinks that the Oklahoma product will need to be in an offense with a strong running attack. That's something any rookie passer needs to succeed, and without one, Theismann isn't sure if Murray can carry the load on his own.

In the end, Theismann told NBC Sports Washington that Murray is "making a mistake" by setting his sights on the gridiron. He simply doesn't see things going well for Murray as a signal caller.

"I think in professional football, it'll be a real challenge and an uphill climb for him to be able to do the things that he wants to do and a team wants him to do," he said.

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2019 NFL mock draft: History shows cost for acquiring Kyler Murray within Redskins' reality

2019 NFL mock draft: History shows cost for acquiring Kyler Murray within Redskins' reality

Here comes Kyler Murray, maybe.

Maybe the NFL, that is. Yes, though the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback announced Monday he would enter the 2019 Draft. We still don’t know whether the Oakland A’s prospect ultimately chooses the gridiron over the outfield. The smitten professional leagues will do whatever is possible for that final rose from the high-profile athlete.

Let’s assume Murray has eyes on a football marriage. He will not have much say in choosing his other half on the team level. With April’s NFL Draft a ways off, it’s the mock draft world determining the 5-foot-9 passer’s destination for now.

The draft slot range extends from the top half of the first round to a Day 2 selection. Picking football with that rumored downside seems unlikely. Murray was the ninth overall selection in the 2018 MLB Draft. Therefore we will ponder a world where the bullish win the day.

Among the mock draft’s currently projecting Murray high in the first round, ESPN’s via Mel Kiper Jr. and NBC Sports Washington’s from yours truly. Similarities between the mocks include:

  • Murray selected 13th overall by the Miami Dolphins
  • The second QB drafted after Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins
  • Three quarterbacks in the first round

Not that anyone in the DMV area needs a reminder, but the Redskins have the 15th selection and quarterback uncertainty. Plenty of time for debating remains on whether Washington should use its first on a QB (I lean no for now).

In these scenarios, Washington would miss out on the top two projected quarterbacks. The third QB named in the two mocks, Duke’s Daniel Jones, hears his name called late in round one. Missouri’s Drew Lock and West Virginia’s Will Grier are among the more prominent late first/second-round candidates.

Therefore if adding QB help in round one were the goal, the Redskins would shift focus to other prospects – unless they are love-struck with Murray or Haskins.

Quarterbacks tend to rise by draft day. It’s kind of a valuable position. Therefore sitting at 15 becomes risky if Washington wants one of the better options.

Free agency comes before the draft. At the moment, the Giants (6), Jaguars (7) and Dolphins are obvious QB landing spots. The Buccaneers (5), Broncos (10) and Bengals (11) could join such a list.

Here’s the potential cost for moving up based on recent teams originally selecting 15 or lower.

2018 

  • Cardinals trade 15, 79, 152 to Raiders for 10 (QB Josh Rosen)
  • Bills trade 21, 158 and offensive tackle Cordy Glenn to Bengals for 12 (NT Vita Vea) and 187

2017

  • Texans trade 25 and a 2018 first-round selection to Browns for 12 (QB Deshaun Watson)

2016

  • Titans trade 15, 76 and a 2017 second round selection to Browns for 8 (OT Jack Conklin), 176

Based on the price Houston paid moving up 13 spots, the cost of jumping past the Giants and Jaguars assuming those teams stay put, for Haskins would require a massive outlay. Recall the bushel of high picks Washington sent St. Louis for the right to draft Robert Griffin III just to move from six to two.

However, the cost for moving from 15 ahead of 13 is not steep relative to the QB need – and the picks at Washington’s disposal.

The trades for Rosen and Conklin are most similar to each other and the Redskins’ situation. Tennessee paid a heavier price in 2016 going from 15 to eight than Arizona did with a move from 15 to 10 last season.

What’s noteworthy from the Washington’s perspective is the ammunition available. The Redskins have their original selections except for the fourth-rounder sent to Green Bay for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and sixth used to snag Adonis Alexander in the supplemental draft. In addition, projections show compensatory picks in the third, fifth and sixth round coming their way based on three of their 2018 free agents – Kirk Cousins, Trent Murphy, Ryan Grant – signing elsewhere.

While the Redskins have a lengthy list of needs, these extra selections allow for a tick more aggressiveness if interested. Washington could make the exact same Arizona trade from last season to jump Miami for Murray or another quarterback and still own seven selections including a first, second and third.

The Redskins would still have enough selections to tab a left guard, wide receiver, safety or whatever remained on the needs following free agency in the second or third round. That’s worth keeping in mind as this discussion lurches forward over next three months.

Before such decisions, the question is whether Murray chooses the NFL over MLB. The pining football world awaits your decision, Kyler.

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