Sunday, August 23, 2009

Something to Cheer For: Redskins 17, Steelers 13

The Washington Redskins 17-13 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers was the perfect antidote to last weeks shutout against the Baltimore Ravens.

The Redskins opening drive was especially encouraging.

Rock Cartwright returned the opening kick-off 24 yards.

Jason Campbell's first pass was a deep strike to Malcolm Kelly, broken up by Troy Polamalu.

Campbell's next two passes were incomplete, but the Redskins gained first down on a trick play when the ball was snapped to Rock Cartwright instead of to the punter. Cartwright ran 15 yards to the Steelers 45 yard line.

Clinton Portis ran two plays for five yards. Jason Campbell's completed pass to Antwaan Randle El was nullified by a penalty on LT Chris Samuels.

On third and ten, Campbell completed a 10 yard pass to Chris Cooley for the first down.

Washington ran on the next seven plays but were stopped at Pittsburgh two yard line. They took the field goal.

I liked the coach's play calling. Deep passes, fake punts show a new level of comfort and confidence by Jim Zorn. Zorn's development as a head coach is as vital to the season as that of any player.

Jason Campbell did not silence his critics with his one for seven showing for 10 yards.

Campbell said after the game that he was not going for numbers. He and Zorn were calling high risk plays.

Those early deep passes probably made it easier for the Skins to run during the drive. Zorn did not call for Campbell to throw when near the end zone. That might not be the case in a real game.

Zorn designated Ladell Betts as the third down back. I hope it works. I am skeptical, however. After Clinton Portis' eight yard run to the three yard line, Betts could not score on the following two attempts.

One of those plays might have been a Campbell pass attempt if the game really counted.

While I would liked to have seen a three-for-seven performance out of Campbell and a touchdown run by Betts, a win is something to cheer for.

If I had a vote, I'd pick Marko Mitchell over D.J. Hackett for the fifth receiver spot.


Greg Trippiedi, Hog Heaven: Hog Hits: Redskins 17, Steelers 14

Benjamin F. Folsom, III, The Curly R: Jailbreak on Every Down

Jason Reid, Redskins Insider: Zorn Evaluates Campbell's Performance

David Elfin, Redskins 360: A Star is Born

Matt Mosley, Thoughts on Skins Win Over Pittsburgh

Rich Tandler, Real Redskins: No reason to get wee-weed up

The NFL Network will re-air the Redskins-Steelers preseason game Monday, August 24, 4:00 p.m. Eastern. Check local listings.

Friday, August 21, 2009

What To Do With the Washington Redskins Tickets

Times are tough. I have to let the Washington Redskins season tickets go.

Long time season ticket holders are anguished when it comes to this moment. My tickets have been a constant for me and my family from the Great Society through the Reagan Revolution up to the Age of Obama.

How do ticket brokers work?

StubHub, official ticket broker of the Washington Redskins, offers the tickets at the seller's price, which is typically high. The seller has to recover StubHub's 15 percent commission or eat that cost. As game day approaches, prices tend to fall.

StubHub's Web Site offers a search capability by seating section for the Redskins stadium, FedEx Field, with the number of tickets available in that section. That's a cool decision making feature you want to see on any online ticket broker site.

Surprisingly, StubHub prefers not to broker parking passes.

The agent cited company policy, but I gathered there were too many cases of the seller not shipping the parking pass with the tickets. I understand the need for the policy, but it's inconvenient for buyer and seller.

A local ticket broker offers face value for seven of the eight regular season games. I can select from the weaker opponents on the Washington Redskins schedule. The broker suggested the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs for the odd game out.

It's a quandry. Sell the tickets up-front at full face value for most of the games, or take a chance with StubHub and risk not closing a deal until September and the start of the regular season?

I suspect ticket prices are highest before the season begins, before anyone knows how the Redskins will perform.

A bad season by the Redskins risks a loss on brokering the tickets for late season games. A great season by the Redskins could lead to a premium over face value for last season games.

The Redskins have hovered around .500 since Joe Gibbs' return and departure. It's hard to read how to price the tickets.

Ticket demand by fans of the opponent drives prices, too. Sellers asked for premium prices ($125.00 each) for tickets for last season's Redskins vs Eagles game at FedEx Field, Sunday December 21, 2008, on the Thursday before the game.

That's the downside of FedEx Field. Jack Kent Cooke built a stadium large enough to accommodate all comers. There are always enough tickets to accommodate them, be they Eagles, Cowboys or Giants fans. And there are always tickets available on a per game basis for the Redskin fan not on the season ticket list.

Lower bowl seating is the clear preference, but you will pay for the privilege. My end zone seats provided unobstructed views of the field such that I did not need field glasses to see the action.

I only used the binoculars to focus on the Washington Redskins cheerleaders, the First Ladies of Football.

The upper deck works for those who want to attend the game. It's not a good experience. My upper deck seats lacked intimacy with the team. One might well watch the game from a skyscraper. It was hard to hear the Redskin Band play Hail To The Redskins fight song.

The Joe Gibbs Plaza Level, Section 300 Series, separates the upper from the lower deck. Plaza level patrons enjoy the sight lines and game experience comparable to the upper deck of old RFK Stadium.

Corporate and premium seats in the Plaza Level that drives the economic value of every franchise. FedEx Field was one of the first NFL stadiums to offer up-to-date corporate suites with indoor lounges, cigar bar and slightly upgraded food court. It's an irritant upper deck customers have to put up with.

Technology threatens to undercut live season tickets. Washington Redskins tickets for the lower bowl are $99.00 per seat per game. Stadium parking is $35.00 per game. Two or three seats plus the parking pass for the season, including tickets for the largely unwanted, hard to unload preseason game, costs about the same as a 40 inch big screen TV and new furniture for a home theater room.

That presents interesting options. Build your own football suite at home and cherry pick the games you want to see live at FedEx Field, or write check to Mr. Snyder for season tickets that are losing their luster?

Even without the bad economy, new technology and brokered ticket options make season tickets a tough sell for the team and ticket holder.

SEP 2 2009 UPDATE: See the Washington Post story Redskins Fans Waited While Brokers Got Tickets, an expose of Washington Redskins season ticket sales practices that led the team to vendor some of its tickets to brokers instead of fans on the waiting list. ASC Tickets, the broker alluded to in my story, and StubHub are mentioned.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


New York Giants Plaxico Burress Accidentally Shot Himself in the Leg

I am a Spartan, though I attended Michigan State long before Plaxico Burress played football there.

So I feel sorry for Plaxico; sorry to hear that he has been sentenced to two years in prison for possession of a weapon in New York.

Burress was the only one harmed when his gun accidentally discharged to wound him in the thigh. He was not the only one at risk.

The thing fans like least is the player who feels the rules don't apply to him. Their stories become morality plays.

It's legal to carry a concealed weapon in 41 States. New York is not one of them.

Still, to be both the victim and the perpetrator of the same crime and to be targeted by the local mayor to make a point....

Burress couldn't handle success. He got more out of control after his greatest success. He brought this upon himself.

Don't we all?

See Interview With Plaxico Burress' Lawyer

Football and Fantasy

August! Ah, yes.

Football season, pro, college, high school, and fantasy is close at hand.

ESPN980's promo picture for the fantasy football convention caught my, uh, attention. Staring at fantasy players is about all I do these days.

I'm a retired fantasy baller, preferring instead to suffer for my art as a writer.

There were two sites I followed religiously as an active fantasy GM/owner (1990-2004) in Grom's Fantasy League formed by co-workers in the Minneapolis branch of the world's largest computer technology company.

Joe Bryant's taught me 80 percent of everything I know about fantasy football, especially the concept of players tiered by position. His cheat sheets ranked the skill players within tiers.

Tiered ranking helped to avoid the second biggest error when drafting a fantasy team: over-reaching for stars. Do that and you'll build an unbalanced roster.

For example, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees might be listed in the top tier of 2009 fantasy quarterbacks. (I haven't seen Bryant's list for this season, so this is hypothetical.) These three could be expected to deliver near the same fantasy points over the season, so they have equal value on fantasy draft day.

Here's the kicker. Pass up the chance to draft a higher tiered player at another position in a reach for your favorite quarterback will come back to haunt you.

Wide receivers get six points for catching a touchdown pass. Quarterbacks get three points for throwing one. Quarterbacks score more often. Receivers will get you more points per score.

But there's only one quarterback on a starting line-up while there are two or three wide receivers. Your objective is to build a balanced team that consistently scores from every position. Think of players by position and ranked by tiers on draft day on draft day and you will likely arrive at the right assortment of players for balanced scoring without getting carried away by any one star.

Balanced fantasy teams and tiered players inform my own thinking about real football teams. Imbalanceed teams are flawed teams. It's a pointer to which NFL clubs will not be post-season contenders.

We need not mention names of any local teams here. I've pointed fingers at them enough. Instead, look at the 2008 Denver Broncos: strong passing game, injured running backs, poor defense. They finished out of the playoffs in spite of a great start.

Joe Bryant is the founder of Bryant Boats. I've never met the man, but I've enjoyed his emails since 1992.

The guys at Fantasy Football Champs also have very good fantasy draft kits with spreadsheets that you can customize to your league's scoring system. They shine during the season, though.

Their projections on which players to start each week helped me get the most from my roster with success as measured by playoff appearances. No, I did not make the Fantasy Bowl every year, but I was a contender.

I wrote a sports column under the pen name Master4caster for my league in which I predicted the winner of upcoming games using a math formula derived from FFC's weekly projections. I correctly pick the winner of fantasy contests 67 percent of the time.

That happy experience led to the start of this blog in 2005 and later to work on Hog Heaven and Bleacher Report where I now deliver football content.

Site Meter says I still get hits on this site. Thank you for that. Check out my archive for old stories about the Washington Redskins football team. Hop over to for my latest on the team.

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Not compensated by or by for this review.