- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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LANDOVER, Md. -- As the "Monday Night Football" game between the Washington Redskins and the New York Giants gets set to begin here, our man Adam Schefter as an interesting story about a motivational tactic the Redskins' coaches are trying to use. Apparently, they have been playing up quotes from Giants owner John Mara from back in March about the salary-cap penalties that took a total of $36 million in cap space from the Redskins and $10 million from the Dallas Cowboys over two years for the way they spent money during the uncapped 2010 season:
Mara, the chairman of the NFL's management committee, was among those who led the charge to take away $36 million worth of salary-cap space from the Redskins this past offseason.
In an article that was posted on ESPN.com on March 25, Mara was quoted as saying, "I think (the Redskins) are lucky they didn't lose draft picks" and "I thought the penalties imposed were proper."
In the days leading up to the Giants-Redskins game on "Monday Night Football," Washington coaches and officials had Mara's quotes hanging on sheets of paper on their office doors, according to team sources.
Based on the quotes, the Redskins are convinced that Mara tried to have enough draft picks taken away so that Washington couldn't complete its deal with St. Louis for the rights to select quarterback Robert Griffin III.
I know Mike Shanahan and Redskins management feel as though they were done wrong by Mara and the league on this issue. They didn't like that it was Mara, who owns a team that plays in the same division as the Redskins and Cowboys, who pushed for the penalties. They didn't like that he was so vocal in his defense of them. And they didn't like that the penalties were imposed without warning less than 24 hours before free agency started. They're bitter and angry, still, even though their appeals were denied and they've had to make plans for next year with $18 million less in salary cap room than they expected to have.
But I question this as a motivational tactic for the actual players. This is a dispute between the front offices, and it has little if anything to with the players who are on the Redskins' roster. If anything, additional salary-cap space this past offseason would have enabled the Redskins to bring in players that would have blocked one or more of their current players from the jobs they currently have. If I were a player, I'm not sure I'd be all that upset that my team was prevented by outside forces from bringing in better players. I might even take such an idea as an insult.
So we'll see, but even if the Redskins win this game tonight I don't expect to go into the locker room afterward and hear a lot of talk about how the salary cap penalties motivated them to beat the Giants. Got to believe the chance to move within a game of first place with four games to go is motivation enough.