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Source: Locked-out NFL referees remain united

Source: Locked-out NFL referees remain united

On the same day the NFL distributed a memo informing teamsthat replacement referees will work games in Week 1, a source with knowledge ofthe locked-out officials thinking said the union remains strong.The sides have not had a formal bargaining session sincelate July, according to the source, and none are currently scheduled.Wednesdays memo is another one of their tactics to try andbreak the union, the source said. When a deal was not reached last week, thesource added, the NFL Referees Associations 120 members realized the league hadno intention of using them in the opening week of the regular season, which kicksoff next Wednesday when the Cowboys visit the Giants.Replacement referees, many of whom are from second-tiercollege conferences, have officiated the preseason occasionally withembarrassing results.One of the latest slipups came Wednesday night at FedExField. After a lengthy review to determine the correct spot of the ball, thereferee returned to the review monitor for a second time, saying over the P.A.system, Were going to look at it one more time to groans and boos from the spectators.In the Redskins preseason opener in Buffalo, there also werea number of miscues, including a botched touchback ruling on a punt.Theyve been put in an unfair position, the source said.They are not professional officials and it shows. It takes three or four yearsto get comfortable officiating the game at this level. The replacements havehad one preseason as on the job training.The NFLRAs members were locked out in early June when thesides reached a stalemate on salary, pension and other issues. Another stickingpoint was the NFLs desire to add three seven-member officiating crews to therotation.They want to add officials but not add any money to thepot," added the source, who also pointed out that officials are now being asked to do more, such as identifying potentially concussed players.Despite being locked out, the referees have continued towork out, review film and conduct a weekly conference call, led by veteranreferee Ed Hochuli, to discuss rules and other matters, the source said.But with six days remaining before the season opener in NewYork, theres no end to the lockout in sight.There could be a happy medium if the NFL comes to thetable, the source said. The league wants to divide the union and its notgoing to be divided.

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Jay Gruden deserves praise for keeping Redskins 'out of the ditches'

Jay Gruden deserves praise for keeping Redskins 'out of the ditches'

On paper, Jay Gruden's tenor with the Redskins is nothing to write home about. Through five seasons he holds a 35-44-1 record, good enough for a .444 winning percentage. Looking at that, some may draw the conclusion that Gruden hasn't been what the Redskins need at the helm.

But according to Pro Football Talk's Darin Gantt, that's not exactly the case. Taking into account the variables Gruden has dealt with throughout the five years, Gantt actually sees him as a "really good" coach.

"I have always come down of the side, maybe, of guys who are doing more with less," Gantt said recently on a Redskins Talk Podcast. "I think Jay has done a pretty good job keeping things in the middle."

Doing more with less and working in the middle essentially defines Jay Gruden's career with the Redskins. Besides his opening year in 2014 in which Washington went 4-12, Gruden's teams have consistently finished right around the middle of the pack.

In the last four seasons, the Redskins have not won more than nine games, but they also haven't lost more than nine. Hovering right around .500, they've always been around league average.

Part of the reason Gantt is willing to give Gruden praise for records that some coaches would get scolded for revolves around what he's had to work with. Gruden's time as head coach has been filled with injuries and other dilemmas both on and off the field. 

In those circumstances, it wouldn't be surprising to see a team completely flounder and spiral out of control. But, that hasn't really been the case with Gruden. Dealing with what he has, the head coach has kept the team competitive for the most part. The team hasn't been a perennial playoff contender, but it also hasn't been at the bottom of the league.

For that ability to keep the Redskins out of the basement despite all the problems he's encountered, Gruden is someone Gantt respects.

"They're able to keep it out of the ditches," Gantt said about Gruden and former NFL head coach John Fox, who Gantt followed during his time in Carolina.

"I think again in the NFL there's something to be said for that," Gantt added. "When things get sideways a Jim Zorn can lose control in a hurry. I feel like Jay just got sort of a steady hand on the wheel."

Until Gruden takes Washington back to the postseason, the critiques will continue to come, as they would for almost all head coaches in similar situations. But when looking at Gruden's time in Washington with a wide view of everything that has happened, Gantt believes the head coach deserves at least a little praise for keeping things afloat.

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Best birthday ever? 107-year-old Redskins fan celebrates in Burgundy and Gold

Best birthday ever? 107-year-old Redskins fan celebrates in Burgundy and Gold

When Carletha "Nana" West was growing up, she began to take an interest in football. In particular, she took notice of a certain Redskins quarterback. 

"When Sammy Baugh was quarterback I liked him and I was just learning football at that time," West said. "I was young myself."

Baugh commanded the Redskins offense from 1937-1952 and became one of West's favorite player. With that, her fandom for the Redskins grew.

Decades later, her love for the Redskins remains. So for her 107th birthday -- yes, 107th -- she, of course, celebrated it with some Burgundy and Gold festivities.

Joined by Redskins GM Bruce Allen, West took in her birthday on Thursday, July 18, at Brandywine in Alexandria, Va. Not only was she given a customized Redskins jersey with the number 107 and the name "Nana", but West also got a day named after her. In Alexandria, July 18 will now be known as Carletha "Nana" West Day.

West spent some time reminiscing about her years as a Redskins fan, singing 'Hail to the Redskins' and even sharing her advice on how to live a long, fulfilling life. Besides loving football, she shared some simple words of wisdom.

"Make friends," West said. "And keep them."

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