Washington hosts Pittsburgh on Monday night in the first NFL game at FedEx Field since the Seahawks came to town last January.
This is notable because it’s been 225 days since the D.C. region last hosted real, live NFL football. (For the sake of this post, we’re going to pretend that preseason football qualifies as “real, live NFL football.” The regular season debut isn’t until Sept. 9.) (Also, we’re focusing on the immediate D.C. region here, so Baltimore’s home preseason win over the Falcons last week doesn’t count.)
Quite a bit has happened on the D.C. sports scene since Washington lost to Seattle in the first round of last season’s NFL playoffs. Let’s take a little stroll down Very Recent Memory Road and look at some of the highlights, shall we? (That question was rhetorical. It’s like when someone says “Can I ask you a question?” That seems like a question, but it’s more of a statement phrased as a question. Anyway, let’s keep going before I get sidetracked.)
RGIII’s Surgery And Rehab
Just days after Robert Griffin III’s gruesome knee injury in the game against Seattle, the quarterback underwent surgery to repair the anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments in his right knee. Less than a month later, he said his rehabilitation was ahead of schedule. He said the same thing the following month.
But for much of the time between his Jan. 9 surgery and the team’s regular season opener on Sept. 9, his condition remained largely shrouded in mystery. His status, long an issue of great interest to fans, somehow became even more high-profile last week when RGIII and coach Mike Shanahan had a bit of a public disagreement about when RGIII would play. (The quarterback wants to play in the preseason, but Shanahan shot down that idea.)
Florida Gulf Coast Upsets Georgetown…
The Hoyas were manhandled by Florida Gulf Coast in the opening round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, with No. 2 Georgetown suffering its fourth consecutive loss to a double-digit seed (in this case, No. 15 FGCU). For the Hoyas, it was another disappointing loss. For the Florida Gulf Coast — hang on, let me Google this, it’s been a few months since the tournament ended — okay, the Eagles — for the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles, this win helped turn them into the stars of the tournament. People wanted to know who they were (a school on the southwest coast of Florida, apparently), how they kept winning (with many, many wonderful dunks, among other things) and how far they would go (into the Sweet 16, but not beyond that point).
…But At Least Georgetown Star Otto Porter Jr. Is Staying In Town
Otto Porter Jr. was selected third overall by the Washington Wizards, joining a team that includes two other recent top-three draft picks (following John Wall, No. 1 overall in 2010, and Bradley Beal, No. 3 overall in 2012). The Post’s Jason Reid wrote after the draft that with Porter on the roster, “the Wizards have assembled all the necessary parts” to return to the playoffs.
The “World Series or bust” Nationals Struggle
After last season, which saw the Nationals win 98 games and their division, manager Davey Johnson said the 2013 season would wind up being “World Series or bust.” He wasn’t alone in expecting big things for the team: Multiple pundits as well as Sports Illustrated and ESPN the Magazine picked the team to win it all this season.
Instead, the Nationals have struggled. They have struggled to find any offense, they have struggled in close games, they have struggled with their bullpen, they have struggled with their bench and they have struggled limiting stolen bases. The season isn’t over, of course: The Nationals, who play the Cubs in Chicago tonight, are 9.5 games out of the second wild card berth. As The Post’s James Wagner wrote recently, the second wild card is a remote possibility, but it’s “a possibility nonetheless.”
Jason Collins Comes Out
Does this one count as a D.C. sports thing? The 7-foot center is currently not signed to any NBA team, but he played most recently for the Wizards (he was traded to the team in February and played in six games during March and April). Since it was a rather big moment that had a clear local sports angle, we’re going to include Jason Collins’s announcement on this list. He came out publicly by writing an essay for Sports Illustrated in April.
John Wall’s Max Contract*
John Wall, the point guard selected with the top overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, signed a five-year, $80 million maximum contract over the summer. As my colleague Michael Lee wrote in July, “the Wizards will be paying him mostly for what they hope he’ll become instead of what he already is.” Injuries forced Wall to miss 46 games over his first three NBA seasons, including missing the first 33 games last season, but his performance so far shows considerable promise. During his abbreviated 2012-2013 season, Wall set career highs for points per game, field goal shooting percentage and free-throw percentage while logging his fewest minutes per game.
* Note: I wanted to title this segment “John Wall To The Max” and had a lengthy internal debate about this. I ultimately decided to relegate it to this footnote for rather obvious reasons, but I’m still happy the words “John Wall To The Max” now appear somewhere on The Washington Post’s site.
Caps Ousted By Rangers, Ovechkin Wins Third MVP Trophy
Playing in a lockout-shortened NHL season, the Washington Capitals had quite a year. After falling to last place in the league, the team steadily climbed the standings and clinched the Southeast Division title. But the season still ended with another loss in a winner-take-all game: The New York Rangers topped the Capitals 5-0 in a Game 7 at the Verizon Center. There was a silver lining: Alec Ovechkin, who powered the team’s surge into the playoffs, won his third Hart Trophy in June.
Washington Kastles Push Winning Streak To 34 Matches, Win Third Consecutive Title
The Washington Kastles notched their 34th consecutive victory in July. That streak, which came to an end against the Texas Wild, brought a lot of attention to the sport (and sparked a lot of discussion about how this win streak compared with other such streaks). And even though the streak did end this summer, the Kastles followed it up by winning their third consecutive World Team Tennis title and their fourth in the last five years.
D.C. United Could Be Heading To Buzzard Point
The pro soccer franchise signed a deal in July that could lead to construction of a 20,000-seat stadium in Southwest Washington’s Buzzard Point. This proposed stadium would be just blocks from Nationals Park. The team has played at RFK Stadium since its founding in 1996, and the franchise has long sought another venue for financial reasons (Steven Goff has more on this here). You can read all about the proposed deal here, but remember that the team won’t be relocating until at least 2016.
RGIII Got Married
We’re returning to RGIII for another item: The reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year married his longtime girlfriend Rebecca Liddicoat in July. The Post’s Sarah Kogod found the couple’s wedding registry, and plenty of RGIII fans were more than happy to send the happy couple gifts (lots and lots and lots of gifts).