Farewell to our friends
It's Friday morning, and Redskins Insider Jason Reid and one partner on the beat, Rick Maese, are en route to San Diego for the Redskins' season finale against the Chargers. Barry Svrluga is hanging back, monitoring practice, and will head west Saturday morning. And we'll all go about our business with an odd void: the Washington Times guys won't be with us at practice or the game.
As Dan Steinberg relayed so well at the D.C. Sports Bog earlier in the week, the demise of the Times's sports section is a bad thing for Washington as a sports town. It's not good for coverage of anything anyone cares about around here -- the Nationals, the Capitals, the Wizards, Maryland, Georgetown, etc.
The Redskins, though, is the only beat in town to which both papers -- and we say "both" not as a slight to the Washington Examiner, but only with the understanding that it is a bit newer -- devoted multiple beat writers. Every year, for a long time. Every game we traveled to this year -- and all of our predecessors (La Canfora, Bryant, Demasio, Maske, Clarke, Justice, Aldridge and on and on) -- we knew David Elfin and Ryan O'Halloran of the Times would be there pushing to get information we didn't have, to develop sources we couldn't get, to tell the story better than we did.
This might be a little bit inside-baseball (or football) for some of you, but sports beats are something of a peculiar animal. The Post's Redskins team sees the Times's Redskins team -- and vice versa -- more than we see our colleagues on our own staffs. We are competitors by nature, but there's also a flow to how the press room works. Yes, there is occasional tension. But there is also a strange camaraderie. We all have to deal with the same stories and the same personalities in the locker room and on the coaching staff, so there is bound to be some commiseration, especially during a season like this one.
Both Elfin (see his goodbye here) and O'Halloran (see his goodbye here) have been on the beat longer than any of the Post's current Redskins writers. They have been through firings of coaches and hirings of coaches and free agencies and drafts and training camps -- the whole cycle over and over. They are pros, and the Post's staff has noted -- quietly, among ourselves -- that it's amazing how professionally they have acted in the locker room and the press room over the past few weeks, pursuing stories, inquiring about injuries and monitoring Jim Zorn and the coaching situation even while their own situations were in flux.
The Redskins, in a classy move, marked the occasion Thursday by providing lunch and presenting Elfin and O'Halloran with jerseys. Elfin's had No. 17, O'Halloran No. 6, not for Jason Campbell and Shaun Suisham (or, as Elfin said, Billy Kilmer), but for the number of years each spent on the Skins beat. Owner Daniel Snyder, COO David Donovan and new general manager Bruce Allen all stopped by to wish them well, team PR man Zack Bolno made a very nice speech, the press corps presented a cake -- and then Elfin and O'Halloran went about finishing their work.
Competition -- whether it's in newspapers or phone companies or gas stations -- fosters a better product. We have a commitment to provide you with the best Redskins coverage we can, the best we know how, and we'll continue to be pushed by the fine people in other places (John Keim at the Examiner, Rich Campbell at the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, the crew at Comcast SportsNet, not to mention the Mortensens and Schefters and Glazers of the world on national NFL beats elsewhere). It's Friday morning; we're missing a big push from what has long been the main competition in town, and that feels odd. But the fact that good people are looking for work, and an institution of a sports section is gone, is much worse than odd.
Barry Svrluga, Jason Reid and Rick Maese
January 1, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
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