As the Redskins look for a new coach, a reader has a divine suggestion

John Kelly
Columnist December 31, 2013

I think we’re all agreed that as long as Dan Snyder owns the Redskins, the team is never going to the Super Bowl. The sad thing is that even if a rich guy like, oh, I don’t know, Jeff Bezos offered to buy the team, Snyder probably wouldn’t sell. He has too much self-image wrapped up in wearing his Redskins belt buckle in the owners box every Sunday.

Then again, I never thought The Washington Post would be sold, so maybe there’s hope.

John Kelly writes "John Kelly's Washington," a daily look at Washington's less-famous side. Born in Washington, John started at The Post in 1989 as deputy editor in the Weekend section. View Archive

Now it’s once again time to find a new head coach, a ritual that’s become so familiar it’s like shopping for a back-to-school outfit — kind of fun at first, until you realize you’re going to outgrow it in a year.

I can’t believe anyone would want the job, but apparently money can make nearly anything bearable. Whatever discomfort Mike Shanahan felt this season — whatever anxiety and stress he experienced waiting for the ax to fall — can be cured by compresses of cold, hard cash.

But who will be the next coach? Reader Carrick Herbert of Fairfax County says it’s time to think outside the box. “My personal pick would be Pope Benedict XVI,” wrote Carrick.

Remember Benedict? He’s the German-born pontiff who stepped down in February, the first pope to retire in nearly 600 years.

“He’s a proven leader whose skills are currently underutilized,” Carrick wrote. “Even if he knows nothing about American football, his presence on the sidelines in full papal regalia will divert attention away from the tragedies unfolding on the field of play.”

I like it. This franchise certainly could use some divine intervention. And the “Hail Mary” pass would have a completely different connotation.

Any other bright ideas out there for unusual candidates?

The name game

I’m among those who think the team should change its name. To me, it seems likely that it will be changed eventually, despite Snyder’s ALL CAPS vow.

I’ve already written about U.S. colleges that changed their names from Redskins to Redhawks. Now an Arlington County reader named Marilyn has suggested that the Redskins should follow the lead of the University of Cincinnati, whose players are called the Bearcats.

Is there a Washington connection? Sort of. Apparently, “bearcat” was once a synonym for “giant panda.” While I would love to see our NFL team called the Washington Pandas — and take the field in appropriately black-and-white uniforms — I don’t think that’s going to happen. “Panda” is too soft, too wimpy. “Bearcat” has a much fiercer ring.

There is a type of civet native to Malaysia called a bearcat (or binturong) that is pretty gnarly looking, but Americans were once familiar with the name because of something else: a sports car. The Stutz Bearcat was the Dodge Viper of its day, its day being the 1920s. It was very fast, very cool and a proven winner in competition.

Wouldn’t it be nice if Washington’s NFL team were all of those things?

Paying it forward for Children’s

A reader named Janet from Centreville told me that she’d been meaning to donate to our annual Children’s National campaign when an unusual episode finally inspired her to act.

It was a few days before Christmas and Janet was shopping at the Wegmans in Fairfax, picking up a variety of special foods for her family’s holiday meals.

“I was waiting for the fellow ahead of me to move his cart, so I could proceed through the checkout, when he suddenly stepped forward and insisted on paying for my groceries!” Janet wrote. “Although I didn’t have a lot in my cart, all of my items were pricey treats, including fresh oysters, deli meats and a spiral-sliced ham. I tried to tell the man that it was a lovely gesture, but unnecessary, and he just smiled and said it was something he liked to do at Christmastime. I was so stunned and humbled by his spontaneous generosity, I didn’t know what to say or do at that moment. So, we exchanged first names, and I gave him a big hug and promised to find a special way to pay it forward — hence my check today to Children’s National pediatric hospital.”

Janet sent in a donation of $75 along with a note: “Kindly pass along my very warmest thanks to ‘Shopper John at Wegmans.’ ”

Whether you’ve received a sudden, unexpected windfall or have just been meaning to donate but haven’t yet gotten around to it, I hope you’ll think about contributing to Children’s National. The money that Washington Post readers give every year goes to the hospital’s uncompensated care fund. That money is used to help pay the bills of kids whose families don’t have adequate health insurance.

To make a tax-deductible gift, visit childrensnational.org/
washingtonpost
or send a check (payable to “Children’s National”) to Washington Post Giving Campaign, c/o Children’s Hospital Foundation, 801 Roeder Rd., Suite 650, Silver Spring, Md. 20910. Our deadline is Jan. 10.

Your gift today can make a difference in the life of a child.

For previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/johnkelly.

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