1. When you look to the headlines of the sports page for stories to write about throughout the year, it is all too easy to conform to the sports world's definition of "agony and defeat." We should be so lucky that our greatest losses in life occur solely on the field of play. That, unfortunately, is not the world we live in. Many people come to this site to take a break from some of the harsher realities we know all too well from the headlines on the front page. I will never accept that sometimes incidents like the tragedy in Orlando just happen--none of us should. Someone asked me this morning what we can possibly do to defend our country against a single individual who decides to commit such an atrocious act. I don't pretend to have such answers, but I will say this: we are all individuals and we all make decisions each and every day that contribute to the world around us. Let's start there, and let's stay together. The true answer to the question lies in the way we live our lives, and the manner in which we continue to reject any kind of acceptance of this kind of behavior as some sort of new norm. Like all of you, I am incredibly saddened by the loss of life and the nature of such a brazen and targeted attack on innocent people. I have no doubt that the ugliness that is politics will soon take center stage in this matter, and I fear that this feeds the problem and not the solution. I wish I had more than just "stay together" to offer you (or just myself), but that's where I'm at today.
2. I will transition back to what you are truly here for after this thought: let's make sure sports is always something that drives us together, and not apart. It is far too easy to allow our sports passions to lead us into negative interactions with people we would otherwise possibly call friends. Watching the riots over soccer games in Europe this weekend was just so soul-crushing. We shouldn't pretend it doesn't happen in our own venues here. I remember my first year of being a season-ticket holder at FedEx. I sat behind a guy who slung as many beers down as he could, and who wasn't bashful about engaging in "spirited" conversation with opposing fans. One thing I always saw him do after a game though: he went and held out his hand to those fans before leaving, looking them in the eyes and saying, "Good game." I started doing that myself and I can tell you that it almost always feels pretty damn good. (That Monday Night loss to the Eagles stands out as one of those nights where nothing felt particularly good.)
3. There are few ways to gracefully segue to Redskins matters from this topic, and to be honest, I don't want to flippantly attempt anything here. To me, the story today is the same as the story has been for the last few months: no drama, no story. And EVERYBODY is talking about it! (Haha.)
4. Seriously though...the sight of a professional organization conducting itself professionally has been refreshing. In fact, we have already commented on this over the last year or so, which has to start making it less of a story, right? To me, I am still fascinated by the manner in which the Redskins are conducting their business. FASCINATED.
5. We have returned to a draft-centric model for the purpose of building our roster. This has driven decisions to aim for pure talent, and even when we saw a wide receiver get selected in the first round, we all instinctively knew it was less of a luxury pick than it was an infusion of talent at a skill position. We have seen a parade of one-year contracts extended to players with plenty to play for, leading to a very visible increase in performance out of our free agent classes than we saw back in the days when we were busy awarding record-setting contracts to questionable people. We enter another veteran minicamp this week with all the focus on the field. One of those veterans happens to be a free agent All-Pro cornerback that we were able to sign BECAUSE of our prudent salary cap management over the last few seasons. Core players (that we drafted and developed) are being signed to extensions that ensure stability on the field. Our general manager and coaching staff are (or at least appear to be) on the same page with regard to the kind of football players they want and the brand of football they want to play. The owner, while ultimately responsible for putting these people in place, can really take credit for doing nothing...which is precisely what he has been needing to do for years! It's really quite incredible and certainly very remarkable. I am not retiring this topic just quite yet, as we still have plenty of summer to go, but the closer we get to autumn, the more confident I am that the product on the field will be reflective of the soundness and stability at Redskins Park. God knows that the dysfunction and chaos that used to be a staple of our organization was readily apparent on Sundays. I look forward to that reversal.
6. As always, the Sixpack turns to The Audible. Last week, we got an update from Mariel Cooper on camp so far and his preparation process as he fights for a spot on this roster. We will likely get him back on next week for another update, with tomorrow night being an old-fashioned episode, dedicated to this comments section and the things you guys bring up and want to talk about. I turn the floor over to you, and I look forward to discussing this team with you. Last week, there was a commenter--I think it was chambers--who brought up Harold McLinton as an underrated all-time favorite. He is one of the 70 Greatest Redskins, and I wanted to pass along that his two sons--Darren and Kevin--were both with us last week in the basement studio. It was pretty awesome when they saw their dad remembered like that. It really says a lot for our site that we appreciate players like Harold, and I know it meant a lot to his sons. It blew them away how respectful our comments section always seems to be. Kevin and Darren will be doing some podcasting of their own in the coming weeks and months, and I am sure I will be able to share that with you. The stories they have already passed along to us sitting around the basement are quite amazing. I can't wait for you to be able to hear tales of the all-time greats that were essentially a part of their family. Thanks again for getting involved!