Sunday, February 25, 2018

The American Idea

As published in The County Times (

By Ronald N. Guy Jr.

My thoughts are scattered.  I’m completely out of rhythm.  The NFL isn’t gone completely, but it’s napping.  Months remain before the start of the NBA and NHL playoffs.  Baseball’s spring training has yet to begin.  The madness that college basketball injects into March is a month away.  The next tennis major is the French Open…in May.  Tiger Woods is playing again, but he’s flirting with the cut line, not the leaderboard.  That would be concerning if The Master’s, like apparently everything else of consequence in sports, wasn’t weeks (at least) into the future.  I am, like most sports fans, wandering and hopelessly lost in the mid-winter’s dark and lifeless forest.

A voice from the beyond: What about the Olympics? 

Me: “The what?  Oh yeah, riiiiight.” 

That’s unfair sarcasm.  It’s just that, well, the Winter Games are, I think, a peculiar oddity for most Americans.  The Summer Olympics are more relatable.  Every high school has a track, a volleyball court and a soccer team.  Backyards are routinely adorned with a basketball hoop.  Neighborhoods have community centers with tennis courts, swimming pools and golf courses.  Who has access to a ski jump, frozen halfpipe or a luge course?  How many people own a curling stone?  Raise your hand if you’ve landed a triple axel.  Nobody?  Wait, there’s one hand up in the back.  Filthy liar.

Nevertheless, the Olympics always matter – both for national pride and, inevitably, political maneuvering.  Baby boomers experienced Mexico City in 1968 and Montreal in 1976.  As a member of Generation-X, the first Olympics I remember, the 1980 Winter Games at Lake Placid, New York, produced the greatest moment in American sports history – the United States Hockey Team’s “Miracle on Ice.”  It mattered, and remains so significant, because a ragtag bunch of American college kids beat the Soviet Union’s best.  It was Rocky v. Drago or, more consequentially, democracy v. communism on ice. 

The sports-politics Olympic collision continued with the American boycott of the 1980 Moscow Summer Games.  The Soviets returned the favor by skipping the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles.  The Cold War was chilly indeed.  And after a brief thaw, it feels like the forecast for Russian-American relations may be ominous again, or at least it should be, particularly by those who have sworn to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Millennials were introduced to the undeniable connection between the Olympics and politics this year when, during the Opening Ceremonies, Vice President Mike Pence sat in protest and refused to acknowledge the presence of North Korean leader Kim Jung Un’s sister, all while North and South Korean athletes walked in unison.  At least Pence, the dedicated athletic antagonist that he is, stayed for the Opening Ceremonies and didn’t walk out, as he did in protest of the anthem protests before a Colts game last fall.  And hey, North Korea showed up for these South Korean hosted Olympics, unlike the pass it took on the 1988 Seoul Summer Games.  What amazing progress we are making!  

Viva la humankind.  Errr…

The point: politicians, of all persuasions and ideologies, have consistently used the Olympics and, more broadly, sports, as a platform to further a cause.  Athletes have a decorated record of returning the favor, particularly during times of national and global unrest – which we are unquestionably experiencing today.  But there is an emboldened minority displeased with the latest, proud and passionate collection of athletes seeking political change.  Just stick to sports, the say.  In other words, be less trouble, less human.  Recently, Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham served as an inflammatory mouthpiece for those put off by politically responsible athletes when she commanded LeBron James to “shut up and dribble.”

Ahhh yes…’tis the season for obnoxious demands instead of meaningful conversations.  Unfortunately for Ingraham and her ilk, the fist shaking will not net the desired effect.  Nor should it.  What this is, at its heart, is not an issue with athletes flexing political muscles, but rather a dangerous intolerance of diversity of thought.  Dangerous because, when disagreements no longer prompt curious, respectful dialogue, a little part of the great idea that is America dies.

The Morning After the Night Before

As published in The County Times (

By Ronald N. Guy Jr.

The blaring alarm pierced into a vulnerable recess of my brain.  With throbbing temples and half-mast eyes, I struggled to calibrate.  The world beyond the warm bed was harsh and intimidating.  The once-snoozed, then chirping again time box next to the bed incited rage.  It was just doing the job I programmed it to do.  But its rude, rhythmic call demanded that I rise to meet the responsibilities of the day.  Responsibilities…so overrated at a time like this; sleep and sloth were more appealing.
That was this past Monday morning.  But it wasn’t just any Monday morning; it was the worst Monday morning of the year – dead-of-winter-cold, dark and, for the first time since early September, lonely.

The fifty-second edition of The Great American Game – the Super Bowl - was played the preceding night.  Somebody lost, somebody won.  Million-dollar ads had their one shining or dubious moment.  Confetti flew.  A champion was crowned.  Disney World trips were booked.  Heroes were anointed; goats were scolded.  One city planned a parade; the other prepared for a wake.  

For the majority – those neither celebrating the Eagles’ win nor despondent over the Patriots’ loss - this question loomed on the morning after the night before: now what?

The NFL’s departure hurts.  Football’s crescendo builds through the fall, reaches a frenzy in the early winter and ends with an abrupt, climatic thud on Super Bowl night.  Then that Monday morning comes.  Where to go?  What to do?  See a doctor!  Yes, that’s it, a doctor of the human mind (such a scary place).  My therapist is Dr. Seuss.  Been seeing him my entire life.  His advice: “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”  Will do, sir.  So with a semi-genuine smile, I say thank you, NFL season…again and as always. 

Now for some business…

The Rolling Stones famously crooned, “It’s only rock ‘n’ roll, but I like it.”  Well, following that excessive deprecation, the NFL is, technically, only football.  Ah, but look closer, Luke…feel The Force…errrr…the football inside you.  There’s much more to this game than a tightly strewn, pigskin-wrapped sphere.  The “much more” is what I always miss. 

The game aside, the Super Bowl journey of the two combatants is always a fascinating tale.  They are two of 32 - miraculous survivors of an arduous trip wrought with tough losses, injuries, inevitable internal conflict, self-doubt and seemingly impossible scenarios.  That each transcended is a testament to their individual and collective resiliency. 

Those broad-brush aspects of Super Bowl stories never change.  The teams and details do.  This year, New England absorbed the significant pre-season loss of star WR Julian Edelman and pushed aside reports of infighting and their dynasty’s pending collapse.  Philadelphia rode the MVP play of QB Carson Wentz to regular-season prominence.  After Wentz’s week 14 season-ending injury, pundits left the Eagles for dead.  But to their great credit, Philadelphia rejected the bulletproof excuse and rallied against any and all naysayers. 

Digging deeper, past even the individual team stories, lurks the “much more” that I miss most about football in the post-Super Bowl haze: with its incomparable concurrent interdependencies – coaches, players, offensive and defensive concepts and in-game chaos - it is the ultimate team sport.  Football’s musical equivalent is jazz.  At its best, jazz is improvisational magic.  Within a basic structure, talented individuals read real-time cues of bandmates, wax and wane within a team concept and remain laser-focused on the art, not personal excellence.  This describes football at its best, too, as it is performed game-to-game, possession-to-possession and play-to-play.  When it all aligns, without ego and toward a collective end, it is, like jazz, an exhilarating experience and a testament to a group committed to a grand, democratic endeavor.   

This is why, after watching football’s finest offering, it hurts to say goodbye.  This is why the post-Super Bowl Monday morning is the worst.  Football shows us what democracy can be; its departure leaves us to reflect on what our nation’s democracy certainly and currently is not. 

No wonder my head was throbbing when the alarm sounded.  Nevertheless, I’m still smiling because the football season happened.  Doctor’s orders. 

A Decade of Views

As published in The County Times (

By Ronald N. Guy Jr.

Believe it or not, Ripley, this column debuted in January 2008.  So happy 10th anniversary my loyal, random or accidental readers.  What’s the tenth, tin?  Only 40 more to go for gold. 

To offer some perspective on late 2000-aughts sports history and the space-time continuum, the first “A View from the Bleachers” covered the retirement of ‘Skins head coach Joe Gibbs.  That dusty timepiece makes the passage of 10 years feel like, well, 10 years; in the abstract, though, the last decade passed in the blink of an eye.  Such is the psychological trick of grains of sand slipping through the hourglass. 

The 260 or so Views since have traversed the sports landscape – college and pro football and basketball, baseball, tennis, golf, broadcasting, NASCAR, MMA, hockey, lacrosse, the Olympics and the Little League World Series. 

The list of featured individuals and topics is long.  LeBron James.  PED usage.  Ray Rice and Greg Hardy.  Joe Paterno.  CTE.  Serena and Venus Williams.  College sports championships vacated under scandal.  The increasingly uncomfortable name of Washington’s football team.  Olympians behaving badly (Ryan Lochte, Michael Phelps).  Gregg Popovich.  Tom Brady.  LaVar Ball.  Colin Kaepernick.  Numerous uplifting stories of athletes setting positive examples and serving their communities.  Heartfelt farewells to Bob Feller, Abe Pollin, Jim McKay and Dean Smith.  And, of course, a lot of group therapy lamenting the latest debacle in the gloomy world of D.C. sports (The Darkness, as I’ve come to call it).

In telling these stories, there have been weird/creative (choose your perspective) connections to history, pop culture and music.  Charles Darwin, Anthony Bourdain, Bruce Springsteen, Atari, Duke Ellington, Rocky, Bob Dylan, John Muir, “The Big Lebowski”, Jimmy Buffett, “The Karate Kid”, Sam Cooke, “Gladiator”, J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye”, James Brown, “Star Wars”, George Orwell’s “1984”, The Rolling Stones, “E.T.”, The Jetsons, “Hoosiers”, Nirvana, Prince, “Back to the Future”, Hunter S. Thompson and, of all people, places and things, Milli Vanilli have all been used to accentuated points or sprinkle a little humor on whatever serious business was being addressed. 

I started the column in the bottle-and-diaper phase of parenthood.  Those days are long gone, but my parental journey is chronicled through various references to kid-culture: Care Bears, Steadfast Tin Soldiers, Barbie, Charlie Brown, Wile E. Coyote, Dr. Seuss and The Wizard of Oz.  They were all authentic, autobiographical windows into my other on-going life as a father.

What to make of all these Views and the decade together?  At its best and worst, the column recklessly breaks modern rules.  The titles are often deliberately vague.  The lede is consistently and hopelessly buried for the sake of storytelling - the poor reader often burns through 500 mysterious words on sports, music, etc. before getting to the point of the madness.  It’s an unfair (and unintentional) test of the reader’s commitment and, no doubt, an occasionally fatal flaw (how many readers have aborted 100 words in?).  Click bait this column is not…for good or ill.  For those who stubbornly stick with me, thank you.  For those who routinely abandon your perusal of the latest View, I understand.

The point of all these pieces has always been more about life than sports.  Sports are used to illuminate some encouraging, inspiring, difficult, uncomfortable or controversial part of life.  In this column, sports assume a long-held role in my life: a great teacher.  The subject is irrelevant – economics, relationships, career, diversity, nostalgia, sportsmanship, growing up, compassion, respect, accountability, decency, fear, ambition, responsibility, love and, yes, politics.  Beyond the scoreboard, sports teach.  Sports = Yoda.  Listen we should.

I’ll offer this one last parting shot.  My mother-in-law started all this.  She passed away in August 2007 after a long battle with breast cancer.  In the months after her death, my father-in-law shared some excerpts from her personal diary kept during her illness.  Her words moved me to do something meaningful with the written word - no matter how small or insignificant compared to her powerful memoir.  This paper gave me a seat in the bleachers and this platform.  I hope you’ve been challenged and entertained.  I hope my mother-in-law is proud.

Dying Institution

As published in The County Times (

By Ronald N. Guy Jr.

January 19, 2002.  I was at Fager’s Island bar in Ocean City, Maryland when it happened.  I didn’t understand it then; I still don’t completely understand it now.    

Where were you?  More specifically, where were you the day Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots beat the Oakland Raiders in the AFC Championship Game and America’s football fans were introduced to the obscure and baffling “tuck rule”???

Time has provided considerable context to that moment.  Entering that now famous/infamous game, Brady was an unheralded and, it seemed, moderately-talented second year quarterback.  He appeared more “game manager” than “game breaker”.  Belichick, in just his second year as New England’s head coach, was trying to establish himself after five failed years in Cleveland and an awkward one-day stint as New York Jets head coach that he ended with a one-line, hand-written faxed resignation.   
Fourteen seasons with at least 11 wins and five Super Bowl championships later that bumbling, unaccomplished coach and that inconsequential quarterback are now the best quarterback and head coach, respectively, in NFL history and the constants for the greatest dynasty in modern professional sports. 

It all began on that January day in 2002.  The end may be near.

If you buy a recent piece by ESPN Senior Writer Seth Wickersham, the Patriots are disintegrating from within.  Wickersham presents a compelling case: Brady’s sick of Belichick’s tongue lashings and lack of public praise, Belichick is torqued over being forced to trade Jimmy Garoppolo, Brady’s heir apparent, and both are at odds over Alex Guerrero’s – Brady’s trainer/business partner – access to the team. 

Wickersham’s piece casts Guerrero as a football version of Yoko Ono; but this seems more the generic work of two powerful entities tiring of coexistence.  Regardless, the end was near even before Wickersham’s agitation; it will just accelerate in earnest if he’s right. 

Brady is 40; Belichick is 65.  Neither man has anything left to prove.  Disgusting riches and irreproachable legacies are secure.  They weren’t going to be doing this in five years anyway, Guerrero or no Guerrero.  The difference now is the Belichick-Brady, Patriots-forever-Super-Bowl-contenders thing might end this year.

The suggestion is sweet music to 31 other NFL fanbases.  Understandable.  The Patriots are easy to hate: Belichick’s curmudgeon-shtick, golden boy Brady and his supermodel wife, the tuck rule, Spygate, Deflategate and all…that…winning.  But even as a salty Washington fan, this isn’t a funeral I eagerly anticipate or will celebrate.

Through scandal, personnel changes and a league financial system that’s supposed to subvert sustained success, the Patriots have consistently quieted the noise, never made excuses and resisted the urge to look beyond the next week’s opponent.  They have overcome injuries (Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, etc.), rejuvenated veteran players (Corey Dillon, Randy Moss), routinely identified and developed talents in obscure or under-valued players (Edelman, Dion Lewis, Troy Brown, Malcolm Butler, Wes Welker), and won at an historic pace.

And that’s just the football side of the story. 

The world has changed significantly since the Patriots beat the Raiders on January 19, 2002.  The information age has exploded with smart “phones” and social media – Jetson’s-like technology.  But the advancements, and 24/7 connectivity, have created enormous distractions, an unlimited ability to self-promote and the insatiable need for self-validation through frivolous external indicators - “likes”, “friends” and retweets.  The challenge this presents in building and maintaining a focused, united locker room is difficult to imagine.

Yet one NFL team has developed the formula.

The Patriots are an island where how things used to be (or at least should be), still stubbornly are and the trappings of the modern, social world are suppressed.  In this way, they’ve never been more relevant or more important – an example that a group of people, committed to a cause and to each other can accomplish truly amazing things.  That ego, the one thing the Patriots have always stood against, might be what destroys modern sports’ greatest dynasty just adds a salacious final twist to this respected, if not universally beloved, team.     

However this ends, the inevitable documentary on these Patriots will be must-see television; I just won’t be celebrating the final apocalyptic scene.

Celebrate Good Times…Together

As published in The County Times (

By Ronald N. Guy Jr.

New Year’s: ‘Tis the season for dropping balls, big parties and spirited (but responsible, of course) consumption.  Wild celebrations asides, New Year’s is, at its essence, a spectacular pivot point between what was and what will be.  It is a simultaneous divorce and marriage, death and birth, end and beginning. 

At no other time of year does past and future so equally share space in the mind.  The expiration of one calendar and start of another locks one eye on the rear-view mirror and the other through the windshield.  This co-mingled awareness of yesterday and tomorrow invites, essentially out of obligation, an assessment of individual progress, world events and, with the right company and juuust the right amount of a magical elixir, the general course of our existence. 

It’s a spooky exercise.  Who are we?  Where have we been?  Where are we going?  On-track?  Off-track?  Are we perfectly conscious or thoroughly confused?  Who knows where the moment’s grandeur - and a few glasses of your chosen poison - will scatter one’s thoughts? 

The verdict on the past year is inevitably harsh: too much weight gained, too many goals left unaccomplished, increased vice decreased screen time and social media usage, stress-reducing gameplans abandoned with hardly a fight and calls to friends left unmade.  In a nut, a greater version of ourselves never emerged and all resolutions were ablaze by Valentine’s Day.

But like once-suffering Cubs fans said, “Wait ‘till next year”.  Well, it’s here, and with it arrives another chance to be everything we swore we’d be last year. 

Cheers to that, eh?

A scroll through 2017’s “Views from the Bleachers” revealed the expected combination of local and national sports topics.  The excruciating playoff failings of the Nationals and Capitals and Kirk Cousins’s frustrating contract situation prompted several melancholy discussions of “The Darkness”, D.C.’s sports curse.  It even caused one piece to be “written” by my mythical pal Duke Radbourn; the gloom of D.C. sports had rendered me unable to write.

The inspiring play of Mississippi State G Morgan William and Oklahoma City Thunder G Russell Westbrook and the feel good season of Nationals 1B Ryan Zimmerman periodically brightened the mood.  Diamond Stone’s accelerated entry into the big bad adult world of the NBA offered a cautionary tale.  LeBron James – the man as much as the basketball player – was passionately defended and LaVar Ball - jerk-of-the-year candidate - was taken to task.  

The dominate theme, though, and the one that generated the most responses from the community, developed from pieces that addressed Colin Kaepernick, anthem demonstrations and, more generally, the inescapable intersection of sports and politics in 2017.

It was a “sign of the times” of sorts.  Whatever you think of President Donald Trump, it would be difficult to argue against adorning him with the well-earned nickname “The Great Agitator”.  Upon taking office, he dumped society and sports into a paint can, locked it in one of those industrial paint shaking machines and hasn’t turned it off since – for good (some?) or ill (mostly). 

But fear not, this piece isn’t going there.  What I will offer is this: Over the next few weeks there will be fans and players of college and professional football teams celebrating bowl wins, playoff games and championships.  In those victory celebrations you’ll witness unqualified unity.  Nothing will matter but common love of team or teammate.  Race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and political persuasions will be irrelevant. 

Absorb the visual and carry it close in 2018.  Politicians will deface democracy and its natural discord by preaching that the other side is absolutely wrong, that different opinions should be ignored, that all news is fake and that if the opposition wins the country will collapse and be consumed by the fires of Hell…all to the wild cheers of Vladimir Putin and Kim Yong Un. 
Don’t take the bait; it’s the rhetoric of those drunk on ego or compromised by special interests.  Instead, remember those celebrating teams and fans as a metaphor for our shared principles and common humanity – forces far more consequential than our differences. 

Now there’s a resolution to celebrate while we’re watching a ball descend…together. 

A Holiday Wish With A Dash Of Sports

As published in The County Times (

By Ronald N. Guy Jr.

There are these weird, explanation defying moments in life when, considering all facts and circumstances – the place, the company and how it and they make you feel – you conclude that you are, somehow and some way, in exactly the place where the governing cosmic forces have determined you should be. 

Such occasions can be powerful, pivot points in life – the day you met your spouse or the employment tip that led to a fulfilling career; others are more modest and simply fascinating for the sheer, unimaginable coincidence (or is it just that?).  Regardless, when pondering the series of predecessor events that put you there, with these fine people, at that precise instant, it baffles the mind. 

Consider a few famous intersections of people and places. 

Paul McCartney and John Lennon met through Ivan Vaughan, McCartney’s classmate.  Vaughan invited McCartney to check out a summer gig of The Quarrymen, a local Liverpool band with Lennon on guitar.  That was July 1957.  Seven years later Lennon, McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr – The Beatles - were performing on The Ed Sullivan Show.  Pity those other Quarrymen…

Four years after Lennon and McCartney’s introduction, two teenage acquaintances randomly met while waiting for a train.  One happened to have Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters records under his arm.  This led to a conversation about American blues – for which they had separately developed an affinity – and prompted the other to invite the owner of the rare vinyl gold over for a joint listen.  And that’s how Mick Jagger’s records landed on Keith Richards’ turntable in 1961.  The Rolling Stones are still going strong.

There are endless, mind-blowing examples like these.  Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were introduced through a mutual friend, Bill Fernandez.  And how about a few from the sports world (since sports is why you started reading this drivel)?  How did Tom Brady, California native, end up attending the University of Michigan, falling to the sixth round of the NFL Draft and landing in New England with Bill Belichick?  Tell me karmic forces didn’t influence the absolutely perfect marriage of player, style and team when Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were drafted by the Celtics and Lakers, respectively. 

Keeping it local, consider the truth-is-stranger-than-fiction stories of Cal Ripken and John Riggins.  The former grows up in Aberdeen, is drafted by the Orioles, plays for his dad and with his brother and eventually becomes the greatest player in Orioles’ history.  The latter skips the 1980 season, is coaxed back in 1981 by rookie head coach Joe Gibbs and ends up winning a Super Bowl and in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.     

Those are all massive, planet-tilting collisions of spectacular forces.  But we all have our own life-altering moments or more subtle experiences that land us in ideal situations with just the right people in just the right circumstance at just the right time.

Here’s one of my own.  My wife and I were in New Orleans recently.  While touring the New Orleans Jazz Museum, we happened upon a picture of Mahalia Jackson and Duke Ellington.  Several years ago she bought me a beautiful copy of Duke Ellington’s 1958 album Black, Brown and Beige featuring Mahalia Jackson.  As we admired the picture, I reminded her of that treasured Christmas gift and, wouldn’t you know, as we turned to leave that record was proudly displayed in the case centered in the room.  Of all the jazz artists and albums…my lady and I stumble on Duke, Mahalia and that specific record.  Cool stuff.

In these examples of wonderful coincidence and its alignment of people, places and time resides the essence of the holiday season: that we all find ourselves in the company of those we care about most.  And that, despite a tumultuous and divisive year and all of life’s typical chaos, we are here, together…right where we’re supposed to be during this very special season.  It’s my sincere wish that you enjoy such special moments with those you cherish most; and let us not forget those who, because of duty or other challenging circumstance, do not.

Happy Holidays.

Decisions, Decisions

As published in The County Times (

By Ronald N. Guy Jr.

This is a reluctant topic.  There has been a conscious effort in recent months to not infect this column with the seemingly never-ending saga of Washington QB Kirk Cousins’s contract situation.  The Cousins-abstinence is rooted in issue-fatigue – mine and likely yours, my loyal reader.

What else can be said?  “Will he or won’t he sign a long-term deal in Washington?” is a question that’s been picked over like a carcass on the Serengeti.  But there is something else to this story - I think.  That’s the gamble here.

To ardent fans, the facts are as familiar as Taylor Swift’s hits are to teenage girls.  Cousins, a 2012 fourth round pick, earned the starting job in 2015 (after Robert Griffin III fizzled), the last year of his modest rookie contract.  He played crazy-well - 29 touchdown passes, a franchise record 4,166 passing yards and a division title.  The sudden and unexpected performance spike – he was benched after a rash of turnovers the year before – created major market valuation issues for player and team. 

The result was a one-year franchise player contract for $19M-ish in 2016.  Cousins repeated his 2015 performance, but his game, objectively speaking, is among the top 10 to 15 quarterbacks, far shy of elites like Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady.  In the NFL, though, the highest paid quarterback is usually the last pretty good one to sign a deal.  But with salary cap constraints and the goal of building championship rosters, overpaying at any position, and especially at the pricey position of quarterback, comes with consequences - hence Cousins’s valuation challenge and a second, one-year, $24M franchise tag this year. 

The stalemate is no one’s fault.  Cousins can’t be scorned for seeking maximum value (no football player can) and the franchise’s caution at making Cousins the highest paid player in league history is understandable.  Cousins and Washington reside at the unprecedented confluence of a pretty good (not elite) quarterback and exponentially increasing, salary cap crippling positional pay.  The waters ahead are largely unchartered and wrought with risk.

That’s Kirk Cousins’s dramatic six-year career in 250 words - but it isn’t over yet.  Another round of contract drama awaits this offseason and that is where this story still has some juice.   

Cousins holds the cards at this point…sorta.  It is hard to imagine Washington tagging him again at the 2018 market rate of $34M.  It could, but under that scenario salary cap realities would cause Cousins’s surrounding talent to regress.  That benefits no one.  Similarly, if Cousins seeks every blood-soaked dime, he’ll either force Washington’s hand – again, not the best outcome for either party - or have to accept the uncertainty of the market – both in value, location, fit and legacy.

What we have here is a dilemma.  There are options for both player and team, but none is ideal and all have risks.  If this, then that.  But…if…or…maybe.  Coin flips.  Rolls of the dice.  Rock, paper scissors.  Ouija boards.  Tarot cards.  Psychics.  Follow the head or the heart?  Oh the consternation.  And for every road taken, there are those left unexplored – hindsight’s brutal playground.   

Feels a lot like life, eh?  Do I accept this job or that one?  Chase the promotion, or not?  Stay in this relationship or move on?  Send the kids to this school or that one?  Stocks or bonds?  Move or stay put?  Buy or rent?

There is rarely an attainable, slam dunk alternative at such significant pivot points.  There’s what you did and the reasonable, defendable, understandable thing you didn’t (do).  Washington and its quarterback have arrived at such a place.  Both have invested significantly – six years - in the other.  
Both are acquainted with the others’ strengths and imperfections.  The familiarity breeds some contempt, but it also creates comfort and a rare opportunity for a synonymous relationship between a player, team and fanbase.  And to make that opportunity reality, all that’s required is a contract a little north of the team’s and a little south of the quarterback’s desire.  What it will take is a shared goal and equitable compromise – and restrained ego and pride.  Such is football.  Such is life.