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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The Washington Redskins have apparently become a home for wayward football players, and team president Bruce Allen has become Father Flanagan.

The franchise is being lauded for how it’s handled the surprise development of their projected starting safety, second-year player Su’a Cravens, and his decision to retire, less than two weeks before the start of the 2017 NFL season.


The Redskins have received praise for their compassion handling such a “delicate” situation, with team officials reportedly having a conversation to try to talk the 22-year-old out of retiring, and then put Cravens on the “exempt/left squad list,” to give him time to figure things out, I guess.


AUDIO: Producer and writer David Simon with Thom Loverro


A team source told the NFL network that Cravens is just “young” and will “figure it out.”

God bless The Washington Redskins.

Seriously — did yesterday ever happen?

Do they teach a course now in journalism school that tells you prior acts don’t matter?

You mean to tell me the franchise that so callously and vindictively dismissed general manager Scot McCloughan has suddenly grown a heart?

Please. You believe this is about caring for Su’a Cravens?

This is all about not having to put another embarrassment trophy in owner Dan Snyder’s trophy case, which is overflowing with embarrassment trophies. This one would be having their highly-touted young safety quit on them just before the start of the season.

If they really cared about Cravens, they would have said goodbye and wished him good luck. They’re not helping him by trying to save their own collective behinds.

Like the great coach Marv Levy once said, “When you’re thinking about retirement, you’re already retired.”

Cravens hasn’t just been thinking about retirement. He seems obsessed with it.

He reportedly nearly called it quits during his career at USC. Then came last year after his concussion when he proclaimed in a Snapchat video that his vision was permanently damaged and he would forever have to wear special glasses.

“Due to my concussion, my eyes have lost the memory to keep track of moving objects, so I have to wear these for the rest of my life,” Cravens said — which was not true.

He reportedly disappeared from Redskins Park several times during rehabilitation from injury.

Then came the video from CSN Mid-Atlantic last week of Will Compton urging more effort out of Cravens in practice. “I haven’t felt it from you,” Compton said to Cravens. “The last two (practices), you haven’t gave me anything.” Cravens answered, “I can’t fake it, though.”

And this is the guy the Redskins are trying to hang on to — for his own good?

I don’t begrudge Su’a Cravens his doubts about football.

Every day, I find it harder and harder to believe that given what we know about football and damage to long-term health, that any young intelligent man make the decision to play this game. So if he wants to retire, I applaud his sense.

You can’t play this game with those kind of doubts. I don’t know what the Redskins are thinking.

“This game tests us,” cornerback Josh Norman told reporters. “It tests your wits in every form and every facet of your body. Mentally, everything. Because if you’re not ready to come back and play and give it your all and your heart is in it, then you’re seriously going to go out there and get hurt. And I mean like, seriously, because this isn’t no child’s play game, this is a grown man’s sport. Grown men are colliding amongst each other and it can be deadly.”

Cravens has chosen to publicly play this out on social media, which, of course, left him open to criticism from Redskins fans, some of it harsh and out of line.

But Cravens seemingly has welcomed the role of victim. He posted on Instagram Sunday night in response to his critics, thanking “those who showed their true colors today. Both positively in support and negatively in misunderstanding & frustration.”

Cravens followed it up with a Snapchat video that showed a confused young man.

“I don’t feel like I need to explain myself,” he said. “I don’t feel like I have to. I think I need to follow what makes me happy, get my mental right, my well-being right, my family right … I’m not worried about the comments or what people think about me.”

He then proceeded to tell everyone he was going to tell them his life story.

“I’mma be a lot more open with y’all now that I can, not that I have nobody to answer to at the moment,” Cravens said. “I’mma be open with y’all. Y’all are really gonna get to know me. You can hate me, you can love me, but there will be no gray area or in-between. I don’t prefer it any other way.”

Victim.

Redskins fans have taken some heat in the media for the way they reacted to Cravens and the news. Perhaps a little compassion is in line for a fan base that has been battered, bruised and beaten by a franchise for nearly 20 years now under the Snyder regime.

For them, this isn’t just about a player and his decision to retire. This is one more gut punch for fans who have felt like punching bags for nearly two decades.

It all runs together for them — the embarrassments, the dysfunctions — into a long, painful, broken love affair. Their capacity for sympathy has been robbed by Dan Snyder and Father Flanagan.

Thom Loverro hosts his weekly podcast “Cigars & Curveballs” Wednesdays available on iTunes, Google Play and the reVolver podcast network.


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