- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 1, 2012


Folks customarily make resolutions once it’s time for new calendars. I’m still determining mine for January and the next 11 months.

Self-examination can be difficult. Coming up with suggestions for others? That’s a lot easier and twice as much fun. So I hereby make the following resolutions for these sports figures in 2012:

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan: “To limit wild speculation.” Maybe we weren’t supposed to take him literally when he said, referring to Rex Grossman and John Beck, “I put my reputation on these guys that they can play.” That gambit cost Shanahan one of his Super Bowl trophies on the credibility scale.

Capitals wing Alex Ovechkin: “To perfect a transformation.” The high-scoring days — at least 46 goals in each of his first five seasons — might never return. But the “Great Eight” can still be a superior player if not a prolific scorer. At least he better be, having signed a 13-year, $124 million extension in 2008.

Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg: “To be like Jordan … Zimmermann.” Continuing his recovery from Tommy John surgery, Strasburg has the perfect blueprint nearby. Zimmermann was third among NL pitchers in fewest walks per nine innings (1.7) and 10th in ERA (3.18). The Nats will need discipline to keep a similarly effective Strasburg to his innings limit.

Miami Heat forward LeBron James: “To keep first things first.” Predicting that Heat championships would number “not one, not two, not three, not four … ” was one of the dumbest quotes ever. Even Pat Riley had the sense to win one before talking about repeats and three-peats. James should concentrate on playing not one, not two, not three, but four quarters.

Maryland football coach Randy Edsall: “To use the appropriate point-of-view.” It’s bad enough when athletes refer to themselves in the third person, but it’s absolutely grating when a coach is guilty. Edsall has dropped some “Randy Edsall” references during his offseason mea culpa/media tour. He should fine himself for any future infractions.

Redskins owner Daniel Snyder: “To stay patient but not too patient.” The old Snyder might have canned Shanahan by now and hired an inexperienced coach, continuing a pattern. The franchise has taken a step back but could take a couple forward with a good draft. Snyder should continue to let Shanahan and the football people do their jobs. For now.

Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld: “To detach from pet projects.” Watching your draft picks perhaps flourish elsewhere isn’t ideal. And since forward Andray Blatche got an extension in 2010, trading him could be more painful to Grunfeld. But he has to decide if Blatche is more valuable in what he would fetch. Grunfeld’s continued employment is at stake.

Denver Broncos vice president John Elway: “To keep sipping but not gulp the Kool-Aid.” Quarterback Tim Tebow clearly progressed as a passer over the last half of the season. But he’s also clearly below-average. Denver’s version of a college offense is a gimmick with no chance of long-term success. But a “Tebow package” could be featured on a winning team.

Georgetown freshman Otto Porter: “To remain humble and keep it simple.” The 6-foot-8 wing has a big-time game and small-town demeanor. He has evolved into one of the Hoyas’ top players and perhaps their most complete. His high school in Sikeston, Mo., had less than 150 students but won three state titles with Porter. Now we know why.

Nationals phenom Bryce Harper: “To be indispensable.” The team has every reason - several million - to keep Harper in the minors a few months, until his countdown to free agency is pushed back one year. But if Harper proves that he’s ready in spring training, he might find an ally in manager Davey Johnson. Harper should make the choice difficult.

The next Penn State football coach: “To look forward.” The scandal that engulfed Penn State and cost Joe Paterno his job shouldn’t have any bearing on the next football coach, whoever gets the job. He’ll be asked about it and he should respond with respect for the victims. But his task will be restoring the program not repairing the legacy.

Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman: “To take better care of the ball.” Grossman ended the season with a streak of 12 games with at least one interception. He had at least two interceptions in half of those games. The lesson … But Grossman … Next season he … I’m sorry. This one feels hopeless.

Happy New Year!

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