Washington Football Team finally gets a new name, plus explaining Brian Flores’ lawsuit


Happy Wednesday, folks!

Before we get too far into things, we have some breaking news to handle: the Washington Football Team is now the Washington Commanders! I’ve written before that almost any name would be an upgrade over “Football Team,” and, while Commanders wasn’t my favorite option, it’s perfectly fine. Now if the Commanders can start winning some games and command some respect, that would be great.

Ok, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get right to the rest of this morning’s news.

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Good morning to everyone but especially to…


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TOM BRADY

What’s long been expected became official yesterday: Tom Brady has retired. The legendary quarterback announced he’s calling it a career in a lengthy Instagram post, saying in part:

  • Brady: “I have always believed the sport of football is an ‘all-in’ proposition — if a 100% competitive commitment isn’t there, you won’t succeed, and success is what I love so much about our game. There is a physical, mental, and emotional challenge EVERY single day that has allowed me to maximize my highest potential. And I have tried my very best these past 22 years.”

The fact that Brady had the competitive fire and the willingness to put in the work not just in-season but also for the eight-month offseason for over two decades is nearly as remarkable as his long list of accomplishments. Still, that list still bears repeating:

I shared most of my thoughts in Monday’s newsletter and the major ones are: there are no holes in Brady’s resume, and his longevity is stunning. When he won his first Super Bowl, he became the youngest quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl, and when he won his last Super Bowl, he became the oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl.

Or, to put it another way, en route to his first Super Bowl, Brady beat Antoine Winfield and the Bills twice in the regular season. Brady won his last Super Bowl as a teammate of Antoine Winfield Jr.

Our team of NFL reporters has put together a ton of great stuff, including…

Of course, it’s also a good morning for the rest of the NFL, which won’t have to face Brady again, and an especially good morning to the five teams that never beat him.

Honorable mentions

And not such a good morning for…

THE GIANTS, BRONCOS AND DOLPHINS

Former Dolphins head coach and current head-coaching candidate Brian Flores is suing the Giants, Broncos, Dolphins and the NFL as a whole for racial discrimination. Among the key points of the lawsuit:

  • Bill Belichick texted Flores congratulating him on getting the Giants job … before Flores even interviewed with New York. Belichick apparently had meant to text Brian Daboll, who later did get the job.
  • Days later, Flores had to sit through a “sham interview,” one he claims the Giants only conducted to comply with the NFL’s Rooney Rule.
  • Flores also claims he had another “sham interview” with the Broncos in 2019, when he says then-general manager John Elway, CEO Joe Ellis and others showed up late and hungover.
  • Flores claims Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offered him $100,000 for every loss in 2019 in a hope to improve the team’s draft pick. He also says Ross improperly tampered with a “prominent quarterback” and that Flores was met with disdain when he didn’t partake.

The case also brings up several instances in which the Rooney Rule — which requires that teams interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior operation positions — was not implemented, among other issues.

The NFL released a statement regarding Flores’ lawsuit, stating that his claims are “without merit.”

Not so honorable mention

Caleb Williams has a new home 🏈


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Arguably the best transfer in recent memory has found his new team. Former Oklahoma quarterback Caleb Williams is a USC Trojan, following his head coach Lincoln Riley to Los Angeles.

Williams, the No. 7 recruit in the 2021 class, took over as starter halfway through last season and shined, throwing for 21 touchdowns and rushing for six more. He has an absolute cannon of an arm and can make plays with his legs, too. The move makes USC an instant title contender, writes our college football expert Barrett Sallee:

  • Sallee:USC is officially a College Football Playoff contender. Write it down in ink, etch it in stone and bookmark this page in case Old Takes Exposed needs it down the road. That’s the kind of impact Williams will make in Los Angeles … All USC needs to do is play average defense in order to run through the Pac-12 with ease and enter selection Sunday with a chance to hear its name called.”

The move also makes Williams a Heisman contender.

  • Sallee: “Williams already has the preseason buzz that most Heisman Trophy contenders need in order to take home the game’s most prestigious individual award. He’s in a system that has routinely produced superstars. He plays in a major media market for a tradition-rich and championship-starved program.”

For what it’s worth, Williams is already at +500 to win next year’s Heisman at Caesars Sportsbook, behind only Bryce Young (+250) and CJ Stroud (+350).


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Costa Rica vs. Jamaica: 7:05 p.m.
Costa Rica is in fifth place and four points behind Panama. If Panama loses to Mexico and Costa Rica defeats Jamaica, the Costa Ricans will only be one point shy of the coveted fourth position with just three matches remaining. Stream the match on Paramount+.

Canada vs. El Salvador: 9:05 p.m.
Canada is looking to extend its lead atop the CONCACAF standings. The Canadians haven’t made the World Cup since 1986, so Wednesday’s game is critical for Canada to make history. See if the Canadians are successful on Paramount+.

Mexico vs. Panama: 10 p.m.
Mexico vs. Panama features two of the top four teams in the CONCACAF standings. The top three teams automatically qualify for the 2022 World Cup, so Panama vs. Mexico will go a long way in determining who makes the final World Cup field. Stream this critical match on Paramount+.


It looks like Spring Training won’t start on time 😐


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Remember the small reasons for optimism when MLB and the MLBPA were meeting in late January? There’s been almost no progress since, and now it doesn’t look like Spring Training will start on time.

The two sides met Tuesday, reportedly focusing on two topics:

  • Service-time manipulation: When teams keep a clearly ready prospect in the minors just long enough to delay his arbitration and free agency eligibility
  • Pre-arbitration bonus pool: Money for those with fewer than three years of MLB service time, in most cases

While some progress is being made on those topics, other issues at hand include higher minimum salaries, timeline for arbitration and luxury tax thresholds.

Yesterday marked our MLB expert Mike Axisa’s de facto deadline for an agreement for an on-schedule Spring Training. Axisa is now eyeing Feb. 7 as the last chance to not miss any exhibition games.

  • Axisa: “The Cactus League and Grapefruit League seasons are scheduled to begin Saturday, Feb. 26. That’s about 10 days after pitchers and catchers report. Players will need at least one team workout before jumping into games (ideally more, but at least one) and the league will need a few days for COVID-19 intake testing… Beyond this date, the owners will cost themselves revenue by missing spring games (players do not get paid their salaries in spring training, so they won’t feel it as much financially).”

What we’re watching Wednesday 📺

USMNT vs Honduras, 7:30 p.m. on FS1
🏀 Grizzlies at Knicks, 7:30 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 No. 11 Wisconsin at No. 18 Illinois, 9:30 p.m. on Big Ten Network
🏀 Nuggets at Jazz, 10 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 No. 12 Villanova at No. 24 Marquette, 10 p.m. on FS1



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