Oh, that London Fletcher, stealing the spotlight as always. What an attention hog.
Kidding, of course. Fletcher didn’t call a news conference to announce his new contract with the Washington Redskins, and there was no smoke, no confetti, no throbbing bass as he stepped out from behind burgundy and gold curtains. Fletcher tweeted the news, his teammates tweeted their congratulations — “Let’s all sing like the Redskins sing, tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet” — and it was done.
Isn’t that delightful, really? Isn’t that why Redskins fans love the soon-to-be-37-year-old linebacker, the guy who never misses a play, who does his job better than almost anyone — he led the league in total tackles (solo plus assists) last season — who leads on and off the field by example and stands up after the game and answers every question that comes his way?
Redskins fans, who’ve had an up-and-down offseason, were beginning to wonder if this deal were going to get done, after the league spanked the Redskins to the tune of $36 million in cap space over two seasons.
The Redskins were signing free agents, all right, but none of them was No. 59.
Time to relax now. Sure, Colts owner Jim Irsay tried to find a way to make the first round of the April 26 draft more interesting, and by that I mean . . . interesting by saying that Indy — holder of the No. 1 pick — was very impressed by Robert Griffin III, despite having said for months that Andrew Luck was the apple of the team’s eye and despite having dumped Peyton Manning to make room for him.
(Better idea for enlivening the draft: Swap Oscars host Billy Crystal for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, straight up. Crystal would be far more entertaining than listening to Mel Kiper and Todd McShay snipe at each other during those 9 minute 59 second doldrums between first-round picks, and while Goodell probably can neither sing nor dance, at least he wouldn’t constantly fawn all over George Clooney and Brad Pitt.)
Irsay’s remark led to all kinds of yammering and blathering by the usual suspects, and some sleepless nights by Redskins fans who worried that Griffin’s stellar pro day was going to move him ahead of Luck.
More likely, it was either an attempt by Irsay to increase interest in the first few picks of the draft — which previously had all the intrigue of a Nicholas Sparks novel — or even more likely, an attempt by Irsay — who is part of the NFL establishment — to tweak Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who is definitely not part of the NFL establishment.
But RGIII refused an invitation to work out for Indy and signed autographs in Chantilly, the NFL scheduled a preseason game between the Redskins and Colts and everyone booked a spa day. Ten days to the draft, people; gotta stay loose.
The offseason is designed to give fans (and columnists) stuff to talk about, and when it comes to generating stuff to talk about, the Redskins lead the league. The salary cap slap on the eve of free agency was just the beginning. Snyder and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones have taken their grievances over that ruling to an arbitrator and are awaiting a decision.
Then there is the continued work on FedEx Field. (Sample Goodell line from his possible stint as Oscars host: “There are more facelifts here tonight than in Landover.”) FedEx already has slimmed down, from a high of 91,000 seats in 2010 to an expected 79,000 this season, which should put an end to the debate about the storied Redskins season ticket waiting list. You don’t take out 12,000 seats if you’ve got people standing in line outside. Maybe the reduction will ease game-day traffic a bit; that’s the one FedEx complaint that may be unsolvable.
The Redskins also are considering a new practice facility in Washington, near RFK Stadium. They certainly need a new one somewhere. The bubble they built last fall in Ashburn was a necessity; big-name free agents do not want to ride a bus to an airplane hangar (in Washington area traffic, no less) every time it rains, just to practice.
Even with that problem solved, Redskins Park is still dated and small and lacking the amenities a lot of teams can offer to potential free agents. And yes, a practice facility is important; the players spend far more time there than they do at FedEx.
But of course, the biggest fixer-upper is the roster, and the Redskins have a long shopping list. And unless the arbitrator rules in their favor before April 26, they enter the draft with significantly less money to spend. At least some of that money went to the right place: to London Fletcher, publicity hound. Tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet.
For Tracee Hamilton’s previous columns, go to washingtonpost.