The show, produced and paid for by the team, is called "Redskins All Access" and tells the viewer at the very beginning that it "takes you inside the Redskins like no other show can."
I tuned in to the 30-minute show, which airs Sunday at 10:30 a.m., earlier this month. I kept waiting to be taken inside the Redskins, perhaps a glimpse of a Norv Turner pregame speech, a camera rolling during a team meeting, a look at the training room--all normally off limits to prying media eyes.
Instead, for 30 minutes, I got fluff, including a never-ending piece that got us "all access" to one fan's living room as he watched his favorite team the week before.
He sat on his couch.
He wore a jersey with his name on the back.
He jumped off his couch for a touchdown.
He kissed his wife and high-fived a child.
And it just kept going and going and going.
Norv Turner, who does not have his own coach's show this year, appeared on camera to explain the new instant-replay rules in what is called the "NFL 101" segment. He had the look of a man who clearly preferred to be elsewhere and added little to a subject that has been written and talked about for months.
Brett Haber, Channel 5's lead sportscaster, hosts the show and does the best he can. But surely, he can do better than donning a helmet and having assistant general manager Bobby Mitchell show him the proper technique for avoiding injury when running into a goal post. When was the last time a sports anchor ever had to do that?
Haber's presence on the show raises some ethical issues. Those same issues also apply to George Michael doing play-by-play for preseason games on the Redskins' "official station"; Frank Herzog, lead sports anchor at Channel 9, doing radio games on WJFK (with team approval); and my own Post colleague, Mike Wilbon, working as an analyst for Channel 4 in preseason games, also subject to approval by the team.
Call me crazy, but I'm still old-school enough to believe that journalists working in the news business should not have any strings attached, particularly financial, to the organizations they are covering as reporters, columnists or sports anchors.
Haber prides himself on his journalism and, unlike most in the market, occasionally breaks news stories on the air, including the very first report on the sale of the Washington Capitals. Yet, he is now being paid to appear on a show devoted to promoting and marketing the Redskins in the best possible light.
His viewers may well be justified in wondering if Haber will be tough on the Redskins on his Channel 5 sportscasts when the time calls for it. Will he pull his punches on the team to protect his job on the show? Can he report fairly and objectively about a team for which he is essentially working, even if he is being paid for his services by the production company hired by the team?
"The only people I answer to are the people at Channel 5," Haber said. "It was important to me and everyone at Channel 5 that we maintain ultimate control [of the show]. Nothing comes out of my mouth I don't feel comfortable saying. They know that if there's an inkling of pressure on me [from the team], that I'll walk away.
"If anything, in the past I've been accused of being too critical of the home team. I've taken shots at Daniel Snyder on radio and television. This week I was very critical of the defense. I think my track record is unbesmirched. If Daniel Snyder doesn't like what I say, he can tell me. I'll listen. And if I don't like what I'm hearing. I'll leave."
His boss at Channel 5, general manager Laureen Ong, also defended Haber's participation.
"When George Michael does the announcing for the Redskins [on preseason games aired by Channel 4], I'd call that a bigger conflict of interest," she said. "Brett has made it very clear it will never get in the way of his journalistic integrity. I have every confidence in Brett. He doesn't back off from the hard questions."
The man who put the show on the air, Redskins President Steve Baldacci, also said he sees no problem with Haber's presence. "We're trying to put personalities on the screen that will bring in as many viewers as we can," he said.
Baldacci admits "All Access" is still very much a work in progress. Because owner Snyder took control of the team only a few weeks before the start of training camp, there has not been much time for advance planning, or even a chance to get many segments in the can way ahead of time.
"What we're going to get to, and we're not there yet, is to make the team the star of the show," he said. "There's plenty of analysis out there. By the time Sunday morning comes around, we don't think viewers are looking for in-depth analysis of strategy. We want to show the team in a little different light.
"If we do it correctly, we'll have plenty of football to hold the avid fan and enough human interest stories that you can't get elsewhere to make it worth watching for a larger audience. It's not about X's and O's, it's about what these guys are all about."
I saw very little of that on Sunday's show. It was hardly "All Access," more like being on the outside looking in through the usual closed doors of Redskin Park.