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Media Madness

Mar 19, 2006, 2:35 AM EDT

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Media Madness

It must be March; the national media is at it again, foaming at the mouth over the Redskins’ foray into free agency.

You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net
The national media’s template for coverage—to use the term loosely—of the Redskins’ ability to get far enough under the salary cap to make some high-profile free-agent acquisitions was, for the most part, typical Dan Snyder bashing. There was one talking point, however, that crossed the line from stupid to flat out outrageous.

First, the garden variety, pedestrian stupidity. Ahh, where to begin. Len Pasquarelli is always a good place to start. From ESPN.com:

So, either Washington contracts manager Eric Schaffer is a genius or Snyder has found a way to circumvent the cap. Seems it must be the former, since none of the legion of the team officials who keep wondering privately how the Redskins are able to add players — and who complain to the media about Washington’s laxity in turning in contracts to the league — apparently has the gumption to raise the issue with the NFL Management Council.

After paying a backhanded compliment to Schaffer, Pasquarelli implies that the only reason that the NFL hasn’t smacked the Redskins for salary cap violation penalties is because nobody has complained loudly enough. Excuse me, Len, but does anyone have to complain for the league to enforce the rules? Does another team official have to do that little “throw the flag” motion that NFL receivers do to try to elicit a pass interference call to get Paul Tagliabue to enforce the terms of the CBA? I don’t know the inner working of the NFL, but it’s a pretty safe bet that the league doesn’t have to wait for someone to a call toll-free hotline (1-800-CAP-HELL) for it to take action against cap cheaters. If the Redskins weren’t clean, they would have been hit by the league.

Len babbles on:

In each of the last two springs, Snyder has vowed publicly that the roster he has assembled will represent the Redskins’ team for three years. Then the inevitable occurs. Washington doesn’t win a Super Bowl, the roster is blown up and Snyder goes back to the vault for another free-agent spending spree.

Horse hockey. First of all, Snyder does not assemble the roster, Joe Gibbs does. Snyder has publicly vowed nothing about the roster in any way, shape or form in the past two springs. The only comment that Snyder has made about the roster since January of 2004 is something along the lines of, “Whatever Joe Gibbs wants is what he gets.”

And did I sleep through a roster explosion last spring or something? The Redskins drafted a corner (Rogers) to replace one who departed via free agency, got a free agent center (Rabach) to replace one who was woefully inadequate, traded away a disgruntled receiver for a better one (Moss), and signed a free agent WR (Patten). That hardly qualifies as a mushroom cloud over Ashburn.

The other prime Snyder basher, Peter King, did an interview on WFAN radio in New York. The host asked him how the Redskins were able to get under the cap. King’s response:

Here’s how they did it this year. They got rid of, basically, depending on how you count them, four or five starters. They purged those guys.

Purged them? How Stalin-esque! What, does he know about a gulag hidden under Redskins Park or something?

Style aside, let’s examine the substance here. Depending on how you count them. Hmmm. Let’s see, LaVar Arrington, starter. Walt Harris, starter when someone was injured. Matt Bowen, not a starter. Cory Raymer, not a starter. Brandon Noble, entire season on injured reserve. Ditto Tom Tupa.

The only way King is counting five starters is by just flat out making them up.

That’s just a small sampling of the ridiculous stuff out there. However, perhaps frustrated because they don’t seem to have fazed Snyder yet, both King and Pasquarelli stoop to new lows when they attack the integrity of Snyder and, indeed, of the entire organization. They’re playing their outrageous tune from the same sheet of music. First, Lenny (an ESPN Insider article):

Several NFL teams had claimed that the Redskins could not mathematically get under the salary cap if it was set in the $94 million range, which it initially was (at $94.5 million), and that Washington needed a cap level in the $98 million range to be in compliance with the spending limit. And, presto, suddenly the team gained $4.4 million in cap relief (you do the math on the difference between $98 million and $94 million) when Arrington forfeited the deferred bonus money.

While no one was publicly willing to charge the Redskins with attempting to circumvent the cap, there were plenty of whispers that owner Dan Snyder had conspired to get the money to Arrington by surreptitious means.

“‘Plenty of whispers’ that I, Len Pasquarelli, decided to turn into shouts by broadcasting them all over the Internet,” Lenny thinks but fails to write. There’s absolutely zero evidence that anything like Dan Snyder taking a briefcase full of cash and passing it to LaVar in the dead of the night in an underground parking garage in Silver Spring ever happened. The lack of evidence, however, doesn’t prevent King from calling for an investigation:

I think just for the sake of insuring trust in the salary cap from some skeptical front offices, the league needs to make sure LaVar Arrington is really going to forego the $4 million in guaranteed money to get his freedom now. Not saying it didn’t happen, but I am saying with all the money the Redskins have to spare and how convenient it was that the team could find this money after months of hand-wringing over the Arrington deal, the league needs to double check that the accounting of this is clean.

A dog may have been kicked in Peter King’s neighborhood. We don’t know this for sure but, because so many of us think that Peter King is the kind of guy who goes around kicking dogs, there needs to be an investigation to see if he committed cruelty to animals. Not saying that it happened, you know, just double check to make sure he’s clean.

The Washington Redskins certainly are fair game for criticism. One playoff appearance in six years does not vindicate their way of doing things. However, it is reasonable to expect responsible criticism from publications such as ESPN and Sports Illustrated. Their writers should not be making things up out of thin air and making reckless, irresponsible accusations. Peter King and Len Pasquarelli are acting like a couple of message board trolls, and in the process they are dragging down the credibility of the organizations that they work for.

  1. mbarnes202 - Mar 20, 2006 at 3:07 PM

    Rich,
    Here’s my honest take of both King and Pasquerelli. Both offer nuggets, sound bites, and whispers that entice readership. It works– they’re both enjoyable to read.
    But both are either sloppy, lazy, or both. Perhaps it has to be so, given how many teams they have to cover. I’m sure you’ve noticed a number of glaring errors recently on ESPN, CBS Sportsline, and other outlets.

    Two I liked– one was that “Aaron Pierce” was lobbying for Arrington to be signed by the NYG. An interesting tidbit, but who the hell is Aaron Pierce? You don’t mean Antonio Pierce, do you?
    The second was perhaps more typical of the kind of sloppiness I’m talking about. It had a “top needs” list for the ‘Skins, and listed was ROG, with a sentence explaining that Randy Thomas had a torn ACL, and won’t be ready for Game 1 this year. Hunh??? I somehow missed that when Bubba Tyer discussed our injury situation, and the Post has also someohow missed it. I thought it was a broken bone in his leg.
    Peter King’s explanation that cap hell never hits the Redskins was also beautiful– that the Cap went up by so much, that’s how they avoided it again. Geez, and that was a total shocker, wasn’t it! I suppose he thinks the Cap figure comes down from on high, passed on from the Oracle at Delphi, rather than something that can basically be predicted fairly accurately.
    I’m actually going to plug here the Print Media. Not all writers are the same, no matter what the media, but the ‘Skins have some good ones, I think, in Paul Woody and Jason LaCanfora. Both have intelligent, thoughtful, well researched pieces.
    (The Post has blown the lid off of some stories, which have caused the ‘Skins problems, but I think what really needs to happen is that the ‘Skins need to tighten their loose lips. As an example, I had heard prior to the draft about the ‘Skins interest in McCune and Campbell, and the year before, I had heard they were interested in Cooley. This year, I guess it’s Mix and Phillips. We’ll see.)
    Anyway, sorry for rambling on. Great to have a sounding board, though, for the ridiculous writings of King and Pasquerelli, who seem to have no journalistic integrity whatsoever.

  2. mbarnes202 - Mar 20, 2006 at 7:21 PM

    Rich,
    I was thinking about the “five starters”, and I think it must have been:

    1.) Ryan Clark
    2.) Robert Royal
    3.) Lavar Arrington
    4.) Walt Harris
    5.) Matt Bowen or Brandon Noble.

    I guess his thinking is that if you don’t re-sign Clark and Royal, that’s the same as “purging” them.

    As to Pasquerelli’s comments about our circumventing the cap … I thought that it was dangerously close to libel, from the legal point of view, even though as a public entity, Lenny enjoys broad protection from his 1st ammendment right to write about the ‘Skins. I don’t think it could be proven he had a “reckless disregard” for the truth, but in all honesty, given his pattern of writing, it’s getting close.

  3. Joe - Mar 20, 2006 at 8:21 PM

    mbarnes,

    Good take about sloppy journalism. Couldn’t agree more.

    By the way, Aaron Pierce is the head of the secret service on the tv show 24. If I were him, I’d want Arrington on my side, also.

  4. mbarnes202 - Mar 21, 2006 at 3:20 PM

    Rich,
    You can tell your post has me all fired up. One more example of Lenny’s either incredibly sloppy “journalism”, incompetence, or another piece of evidence in his vendetta against the ‘Skins.
    Yesterday, in his write-up of the RFA market, he pointed to the 2003 snag of four RFAs by the ‘Skins, with their compensation:
    Coles (1st, #13); Morton (5th, #140); Bowen (6th, #180), and Haley (7th, #226).
    Pasquerelli intimated we gave up four picks and essentially received little or nothing in return: none are currently on our roster.
    Typical, and shamefully inadequate research to make such a blythe critique.
    I looked up what players were obtained with those picks– this should be the comparison as to whether the ‘Skins got value from their picks. I was not surprised to find that, EXACTLY OPPOSITE of what Pasquerelli was implying, I think most observers would conclude that the ‘Skins got the better of the deal. Consider:
    For Coles, the NY jets packaged the ‘Skins pick and their own (#22) to get Chicago’s #4 pick, which they used on Dewayne Robertson. Robertson is still in the league, and doing OK– but he’s probably less value than Coles, and they had to give up their own #1 as well. The other two picks were spent on Ty Warren and Rex Grossman. I think Coles is better than either of these two players as well. In 2003, Coles had 82/1204 and 6 TDs. 2004 he had 90/950 and 1 TD in a bad year. Of course, we got Moss in 2005 for Coles, straight up. But Coles was nonetheless reasonably productive in 2005 despite the Jets’ QB woes: 83/845 and 5TDs.
    ADVANTAGE: REDSKINS.
    For Chad Morton’s pick, the player drafted in that spot was Derek Pagel, FS. He has 13 career tackles, and was released by the Cowboys this March. Morton has been highly effective on ST, and even was reasonably productive in 2003 for us on offense: 15/187 and 1 TD, plus 23.4 yds/KO.
    ADVANTAGE: REDSKINS.
    For Matt Bowen’s pick, the player selected was Eddie Johnson, a punter. I cannot even find him on an active roster. I don’t think he plays in the NFL anymore. In Bowen’s first season, he had 74 tackles, 3 INTs, 4 PD, and 2 FF. In 2004, he had 19 tackles, 2 sacks and 1 FF before being injured, and 2005 he only played late in the season. Still, compared to Eddie Johnson, it’s obviously a slam dunk.
    ADVANTAGE: REDSKINS.
    For Jermaine Haley, we gave up a 7th rounder, which was used to select WR Walter Young. Young had 7 career games played, with 0 catches. He may have played ST. He was released in 2005. Haley, who is no longer in football, at least played 1 full year for us. But, OK, let’s call it a wash.
    ADVANTAGE: EVEN.

    So, let’s recap: Pasquerelli lambasts the Redskins for their 2003 RFA pickups, but OF COURSE, does not research (or purposely ignores) who the picks they gave up ended up being. Shoddy research or deliberate libel?
    I’m actually going to say that this was not done intentionally by Pasquerelli. He just writes what comes into his mind after a very brief period of research. He’s just an idiot.

  5. Anonymous - Mar 21, 2006 at 11:42 PM

    I just have to tell people who read this to go to SI.com and look where we wound up on Don Banks’ list of free agent winners and losers. This year the Redskins smashed the myth of cap hell and signed every free agent that we had on our board to help the team. Where did we end up on his list but as a loser. However, he was able to list the Cowboys as a winner because of adding Terell Owens to their team…it may just be me, but i think the Redskins best free agent signing is Owens to the Cowboys…i give an 8 month over under on the cancer spreading throughout that organization.

  6. Joe - Mar 22, 2006 at 2:50 PM

    I’ll take the under.

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