Alex Smith may figure prominently into Washington’s quarterback scheme

Editor’s note: For editorial purposes, the NFL team residing in Washington, D.C. will continue to be referred to as the Washington Redskins until the franchise officially settles on a franchise nickname.

The Washington Redskins appear to enter 2020 with quarterback Dwayne Haskins entrenched as their starter. That decision sounds rational since the franchise selected Haskins in the first round in 2019 to become the long term starter. Haskins showed signs of progress late last season, providing hope that he will become a solid starter in Washington for the foreseeable future.

Haskins’ status as the starter isn’t guaranteed in 2020. Redskins’ head coach Ron Rivera inherited Haskins from the previous regime; therefore he has no professional attachment to Haskins. That theory has been reiterated with the offseason acquisition of quarterback Kyle Allen, who played under Rivera when both were with the Carolina Panthers.

Further complicating the Redskins’ quarterback position is Alex Smith. He was the team’s starting quarterback before suffering a career threatening knee injury in 2018. Few remember the Redskins had a 6-2 record in 2018 before Smith suffered his injury against the Houston Texans. Subsequently, Washington struggled as they went 4-20 after Smith’s injury.

2020 training camp has shown Smith participating in drills in his quest to return to the field. His efforts have drawn praise from Rivera, hinting that Smith could figure prominently in how the Redskins choose to handle the quarterback position.

Washington is a long way from making that determination as Smith has not been cleared by the team for full contact drills. It would be a remarkable story if Smith were to return, earn a roster spot, and play a pivotal role for the Redskins in 2020.

Return to sports will always be worth the risk

Major League Baseball opened its 2020 season last week with many compelling cases for and against the sport’s debut due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Those against baseball’s debut found vindication after multiple members of the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals tested positive for COVID-19.

Series between the Marlins and the Baltimore Orioles, as well as the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies were canceled as a result of these developments. The Cardinals’ weekend series with the Milwaukee Brewers was canceled as well.

Despite these developments, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has maintained that the abbreviated season will continue as scheduled. Despite protests from those believing sports should be canceled altogether, Manfred made a wise decision in maintaining that the season continue.

We shouldn’t place a premium on athletic competition over player safety. Economic consideration will always remain a given in these decisions to playball. Team owners and Commissioner Manfred work hand in hand to achieve their main objectives: making money. While MLB stadiums will remain empty during game play, MLB will still make billions of dollars in broadcast and ad revenue during these games.

Manfred’s decision allowing game play to continue does have one bright spot. It allows teams like the Marlins to promote players from their minor league farm system to play in the majors. Miami must play at least nine players for each game despite having a combined 20 positive tests amongst players and coaches. The Marlins weren’t expected to be playoff contenders during normal circumstances in 2020. The COVID pandemic presents opportunities for young players to distinguish themselves.

It’s unfortunate for athletes to get an opportunity to play in this manner. Then again, Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ quarterback Tom Brady got his opportunity to distinguish himself in an almost identical manner. These games will go on with or without our blessing, which is why playing sports in this climate will always be worth the risk.

What we can learn from John Lewis

Longtime Democratic congressman John Lewis passed away from pancreatic cancer on Friday at age 80. Lewis was inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to help organize civil rights protests in the 1960s. In 1965, Lewis was beaten by officers during a voting rights protest on the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama. This incident became the catalyst for the civil rights movement of the 1960s. It also turned Lewis into a civil rights icon.

Many consider Lewis’ ability to forgive others a teachable moment. He has been especially forgiving toward those that have transgressed against him personally. Lewis’ stance on forgiveness isn’t particularly admirable by any stretch of the imagination.

Make no mistake: Lewis is perfectly within his rights to offer forgiveness. It should be noted that missing from Lewis’ stance on forgiveness is his advocacy for actual punishment for those that have transgressed against him. Forgiveness without actual punishment is unreasonable since there would be no deterrent from those acts continuing.

Lewis was an advocate for protecting the rights of illegal immigrants and members of the LGBTQ community. Advocacy for these particular groups isn’t noteworthy, as human decency dictates this should be a given. Where is his advocacy for policy that punishes law enforcement and private citizens that wantonly kill black people in America? Surely if such policy existed and were actually enforced, there would be no protests for black racial equality.

Lewis’ death can be a teachable moment. There was no mention of any punishment administered towards Lewis’ perpetrators in the 1960s. We can learn how to enact punishment against those that have transgressed against us. Lewis was an advocate for nonviolence. He can teach us to be violent in self defense. And we can forgive: only after the perpetrator has been actually punished. That would be the greatest lesson of all, worthy of getting into “good trouble”.

Forgiveness just isn’t enough

It appears the ultimate resolution has been reached in the saga of Amy and Christian Cooper (no relation). Calls to penalize citizens that misuse the 911 system have been long overdue. It appears that incidents like this will finally result in harsh punishment and eventual deterrent from future incidents. Right? Wrong!

Yes, charges were brought against Amy Cooper for her part in the incident involving Christian Cooper. Those charges won’t be pursued because of non cooperation with the investigation. Ironically that non cooperation isn’t coming from Amy Cooper. It is coming from Christian Cooper.

Christian Cooper has decided that Amy Cooper has suffered enough embarrassment through social media backlash and loss of employment. He has decided to forgive her and wants to move on without prosecuting her for misusing the 911 system.

This piece isn’t about to discuss whether or not anyone should forgive anyone else because that isn’t the issue. Forgiveness is an intangible entity that only soothes your psyche. It’s the aftermath of forgiveness that becomes the only issue of importance. By not pushing for consequences, Christian is letting Amy off the hook when she was actually trying to get Christian not only arrested, but possibly lynched by the New York Police Department (let’s not pretend like that isn’t a possibility).

Forgiveness and stiff consequences are not mutually exclusive. I can forgive someone’s transgressions against me after they’ve been properly punished. Christian Cooper’s threshold to forgive is infinitely higher than anyone could imagine. This incident could serve as a guideline for future incidents, as no one can say something like this won’t happen again?

Laws that punish abusers of the 911 system for non emergency incidents exist as a deterrent from these incidents happening again. While Christian Cooper is within his rights to forgive, let’s hope his stance won’t serve as the catalyst for future incidents.

Don’t Let Terry Crews Misconstrue Black Lives Matter Movement

In the metaphorical sense, actor Terry Crews has built a large platform for himself based on his roles in television series like “Everybody Hates Chris” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”, as well as movies like “The Expendables” and “Blended”. His current role on “America’s Got Talent” has solidified his platform, creating extensive influence over issues of the day.

Crews has maintained that he would like to see people of all races and creeds unite amidst current protests for racial equality. In theory, that would be wonderful. Crews loses credibility when he also opines that “black lives matter” shouldn’t mean “black lives better”. It’s the same dismissive jargon that can be equated to “All Lives Matter”.

Let’s break this down. It’s understood that “All Lives Matter” in theory. But if the focus is on one particular group whose members are dying at the hands of law enforcement with impunity, the “All Lives Matter” theory is null and void. That’s because no one should be wantonly killed at the hands of law enforcement with impunity.

Crews also sent this tweet offering his opinion on defeating white supremacy. The tweet begs this question: what does black supremacy look like? I’m sure that Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, and other black citizens who have died at the hands of law enforcement or law enforcement sympathizers would have loved the answer to that question.

We can take what Crews says with a grain of salt. After all, this is the man who had a male producer grab his crotch in 2016 and didn’t physically retaliate against him. Making matters worse, Crews’ wife was present during the incident. Crews is a muscular 240 pounds. The incident makes one wonder how did this environment become so comfortable to the point where one man can grab another man’s testicles at a function in front of his wife and there not be some sort of physical altercation?

But I digress. Crews is certainly entitled to his opinion. It’s up to society to decide how to move forward with it.

Washington Redskins Name Change Could Revitalize Franchise

The Washington Redskins were once one of the NFL’s most prestigious franchises. Under the tutelage of NFL Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs, the Redskins won three Super Bowl titles with three different starting quarterbacks (Joe Theismann, Doug Williams, and Mark Rypien). Those championship days are long gone, as the Redskins’ recent history has been filled with numerous underwhelming top draft picks and high-profile free agency busts.

And then there’s the nickname. The term “Redskins” can be construed as a slur against Native Americans. There has been calls for team owner Daniel M. Snyder to change the name. The most telling statement from Snyder came during a 2013 interview with USA Today. In that interview, Snyder was quoted as saying “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER-you can use caps.” It was a defiant stance from a multibillionaire and lifelong Redskins’ fan determined to do things his way.

On Friday, Snyder announced that the team will undergo a thorough review of the team’s name. On the surface, this sounds like the franchise will change its nickname. Let’s inspect this a little further. While the announcement promises a thorough review, public sentiment won’t be part of that process. Secondly, the franchise will conduct a thorough review that doesn’t necessarily guarantee that the name will be changed.

It should be noted that the Redskins have lost sponsorship deals with Nike and Fed Ex in part because of their team nickname. While no determination from Snyder has been made as of press time, one could reason that the loss of these major sponsorships definitely streamlines thoughts of changing the team’s nickname.

That really doesn’t matter as the Redskins’ franchise has been mired in irrelevance for several decades. They haven’t won a Super Bowl title in almost 30 years, and it’s been fifteen years since their last playoff win. Washington hired head coach Ron Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio to turn around the team’s fortunes. Changing the team nickname doesn’t erase the Redskins’ NFL legacy. A possible name change won’t transcend an on field product still trying to gain some efficiency.  But it could go a long way towards establishing a new legacy that could shift public sentiment in their favor.

America isn’t serious about solving her “Cry Wolf” issues

A common theme in American society focuses on American civilians calling 911 on other American civilians for non essential reasons. A more accurate description would be white civilians calling 911 on black civilians who are performing ordinary tasks like…..lawfully enjoying a swim at a hotel, or children selling water on a hot day.

Neither of the incidents can be described as dangerous, life threatening incidents that warranted involving law enforcement. Quite frankly, the fact that these incidents, along with many others, are reoccurring in a constant fashion is appalling. Those that call 911 for such trivial matters have nothing else better to do than take it upon themselves to embark on a crusade to end what they see as wanton lawlessness.

These 911 calls are blatant misuse of the 911 system, as law enforcement should have much bigger “crimes” to tend to than the ones mentioned in the links above. This can be referred to as the “cry wolf” syndrome, calling 911 to investigate dangerous situations where none actually exist.

Technology has put these 911 abusers on blast, earning them virtual scorn, ridicule, and job loss in some cases due to social media exposure. Unfortunately, none of them have earned any jail time, as calling 911 for non emergency situations is classified as a misdemeanor in some states.

But the most interesting aspect is the handling of these incidents by law enforcement that are directly involved in these incidents . They can go through the process of their investigation of these incidents. But when these incidents reveal no wrongdoing by the accused, law enforcement on the scene should arrest the 911 caller on the spot for making a false claim in a non emergency situation.

Shouldn’t law enforcement be indignant for having to tend to 911 calls focusing on either the mundane or ridiculous circumstances? Society stresses law enforcement using their resources for real emergencies, but are silent when these particular incidents reach a resolution exonerating the supposed perpetrators. Arresting the callers is never mentioned, and life goes on as usual. Therefore, there’s no deterrent for these calls. As time has proven, until those empowered to enforce the laws that governs all citizens actually does so, these incidents will remain common practice.

What constitutes a hate crime in 2020?

On Tuesday, the FBI concluded its investigation and determined that the noose hanging above the Talladega Superspeedway garage used by NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace did not constitute a hate crime. It was determined that the noose was hung there in the fall of 2019, months before Wallace, who is black, was assigned to use that garage.

Webster’s Dictionary defines a hate crime as “any of various crimes (such as assault or defacement of property) when motivated by hostility to the victim as a member of a group (such as one based on color, creed, gender, or sexual orientation)”.  An empowered entity like the FBI will use its own subjective judgment to make their determination based on the hate crime definition provided. Their findings showed no federal crime was committed, putting an end to this story.

The FBI’s determination could make noose hanging an acceptable practice again, much to the dismay of black Americans and black American sympathizers. As deplorable as noose hanging is, the act harms people psychologically instead of physically and economically. Maybe this is the logic the FBI used to determine that the noose hanging above Wallace’s garage door was not a hate crime.

It’s a flawed logic. If someone were to hang pictures of a swastika over a Jewish NASCAR driver’s garage door, the FBI’s investigation would have severely punished the perpetrator. If a gay NASCAR driver had a sign above his garage door containing homophobic language, that perpetrator would have been severely punished as well. The Bubba Wallace noose aftermath sends the message that nooses are acceptable in 2020, and that black Americans are not offered the same protection from anti black sentiments as any other specific group.

Wallace has not offered a public comment as this piece went to press. It’s sad that Talladega Superspeedway couldn’t find someone capable enough to tie a rope unlike a noose to serve its purpose for that garage door. The incident proves that NASCAR’s newfound dedication to inclusion for all has a long way to go to achieve that end.

 

Noose found in Bubba Wallace’s garage stall is a good thing

Worldwide protests for racial equality have swept the planet at a fever pitch never seen before. People of all races, creeds, and religions have banded together to denounce racism, particularly against black people. Bubba Wallace is NASCAR’s only black driver. Wallace spearheaded a crusade to ban the confederate flag from all NASCAR events, as the flag is viewed by many as a symbol of slavery. Wallace’s crusade has been successful, as NASCAR has agreed to ban all confederate flags inside their racing venues.

At Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama on Sunday, Wallace found a noose hanging on his garage stall. Nooses are a painful reminder of black people being lynched by hanging for the unforgivable crime of being born the wrong skin color. The noose in Wallace’s garage stall in the year 2020 reminds us that America has a long way to go if she wants to divulge herself from her racist past. And this is a good thing.

Make no mistake. This writing does not condone the practice of hanging nooses, as it is a reprehensible practice. NASCAR plans to launch an investigation to find the culprit. The noose hanging, along with the recent racial inequality protests, has ignited good and ugly in many of us. Hanging a noose should be considered a hate crime punishable by a lengthy prison sentence. When NASCAR finds the Wallace noose hanging culprit, that person should be tried, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison.

Does that sound harsh? As reprehensible as noose hanging is, bringing it back to life has exposed people for the reprobates they are. They deserve the shame they receive for what they’ve done. They deserve to be fired from their positions, or have their businesses suffer financial ruin. Ultimately, they deserve to be tried, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison for their hate crimes. Make a long standing example of them and to those of their ilk that wish to hang nooses that they will pay a heavy price.

As for Wallace, he maintains that the incident will not break him. He will continue to drive for NASCAR and carve a niche for himself in a sport that has not always seemed to welcome black drivers. Wallace’s resolve can serve as an inspiration to black children who aspire to follow in his footsteps, turning the noose incident into a moment of triumph instead of ultimate despair.

COVID-19 Cases Spike Amidst American Reopening

The George Floyd protests have dominated our consciousness in the past two weeks. Thousands of protestors across America have marched in solidarity against police brutality after Floyd was killed at the knee of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25.

Lost in the current protests of police brutality is the omnipresence of the COVID-19 pandemic. When the pandemic spread to America in the spring of 2020, health experts preached wearing masks, hand washing, and the ever present social distancing. It’s hard to determine protestors’ hygiene habits. Looking at the omnipresent news coverage of the protests over the last two weeks, some protestors can be seen not wearing masks. With thousands of people confined on singular streets in several cities marching in unison, expectations of social distancing are impossible.

Protests aren’t the only source of COVID-19 spikes. Several states have reopened for business in their efforts to jumpstart the economy, thus ending the shelter in place edicts enforced to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The most famous case focuses on Shelley Luther, a Dallas based hairstylist who openly defied the state of Texas’ emergency orders to either remain closed or face a $1,000 fine and up to 180 days in jail. On camera, Luther tore up a cease and desist letter from local authorities, drawing cheers at an Open Texas rally in May.

Luther’s blatant act of defiance served up a fresh case of karma for Texas, as the state has seen it’s COVID-19 cases spike within the past several days. CNN reports by the Fourth of July, COVID-19 deaths could reach 130,000. That could cause another nationwide lockdown, further crippling America’s economy.

COVID-19 can seemingly mutate into a different strain ahead of the scientists who are searching for a vaccine to cure the virus. For now, all we can do is continue to practice social distancing, wash our hands, and wear masks if we absolutely must navigate in public. If we can’t, expect an even bigger spike of cases to surface in the near future.