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Homeward Bound for the Redskins?

It's not the classic 1993 family flick but for the Washington Redskins - home may just be where the heart is. For their players. And because that's the selling point.

The Washington Redskins have been a bad franchise for almost 30 years. This is an undeniable fact.

They've been horribly run, riddled with chaos and dysfunction and a sad symbol of decline.

Nobody can dispute this simple truth and reality.

How do you rebuild a culture and a once glorious history?

Ron Rivera and Kyle Smith are faced with that question every single day.

One of the ways to rebuild a storied tradition besides the obvious, winning, is finding employees that are playing for more than just their own individual motivations.

Players are people, too. They have pride and motivation.

If they are representing a team they grew up rooting for and loving, in an area that is home or become home in college, it stands to reason that they will represent themselves and their employer with respect, reverence and as more than just a job.

It's a common sense and logical assumption.

Redskins fans and media have wondered, snickered, asked and noticed that the once proud franchise has a proclivity for Alabama, Ohio State and LSU products along with players that grew up in the greater D-M-V (DC-Maryland-Virginia) area.

The Washington Redskins have fully bought in and actually, it started with Mike Shanahan and (gulp!) Bruce Allen.

The Redskins brought in/drafted players like Morgan Moses, Josh Morgan, Tim Hightower, Will Montgomery, Josh Wilson, Madieu Williams, and of course DeAngelo Hall, under Shanahan and Allen.

Some, like Hall, were brought in before that "dynamic-duo" arrived, but you get the point.

On the Redskins roster right now, the organization has brought "home" via the college draft Dwayne Haskins, Chase Young, Jonathan Allen, Jimmy Moreland, Tim Settle, Greg Stroman, Antonio Gandy-Golden and even Antonio Gibson's family has roots here.

Free agent addition Kendall Fuller, who was an original draft pick of the Redskins and was traded for Alex Smith, is back home.

"Being in the NFL the last couple of years and just being at a place that’s home, that I’ve had some success [and] that I’ve enjoyed, the first few years I was in Washington," Fuller said after he officially returned.

He went even further when talking about the extra benefits of playing in front of family once again. He told a story about his parents potentially moving in with him (they still live in the Baltimore area) and Fuller added, "for me, my older brother had a son so being able to get back home to spend time with my nephew, golf with my oldest brother, so it’s really me just being pretty much back with the family, being able to spend time with the family, see the family, things like that.

"I told my mother, when I was in Washington I used to tell her a total of five games that she wasn’t allowed to come to them because I wanted Sunday dinner after the game so I had to let her know she’s going to have to start doing that again.”

Sean Davis signed with the Redskins to come back home.

“It was a no-brainer, honestly. I’m born and raised in Washington, D.C., went to high school in D.C., went to the University of Maryland College Park – I’m grounded in Maryland. I’m grounded in that area, so the opportunity to come home and play for the Redskins was a no-brainer for me. It was a really easy decision, I’m just glad to be a part of the organization.”

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So did Ronald Darby, who grew up in Oxon Hill, Maryland.

"I’m grateful for the opportunity in Washington. I’m from the DMV area, so I grew up a Redskins fan," Darby told reporters including in early April. "Just to come back home to play for the team I grew up loving is really something huge."

Tight end Logan Thomas, who signed with the Redskins from the Lions, was born in Lynchburg, Virginia and played his college ball at Virginia Tech.

Perhaps this is a league-wide trend on 90-man rosters? Data on this subject was not reliable to be included in this piece and NFL teams publicly do not list hometown information on their official team rosters.

My educated guess is that the Redskins do this more than other organizations and emphasize it.

Why? A couple of reasons.

Players want to win or get paid. Period. The Redskins have not been able or willing to offer either of those scenarios, with limited exception, for the last 10 + years, since Allen and Shanahan shutdown Snyder's ATM at the front door in Ashburn.

If players don't feel they have a good shot at either, they want to be pampered in different ways. A great training facility, a great place to live, a good training and medical staff are all legitimate factors.

The Redskins have been shaky or negligent in some of these areas.

Loudoun County, Virginia, which is the home of Redskins Park, is absurdly affluent, but there's not a lot of easy entertainment options for young football players with a ton of cash. Washington D.C. is at minimum 45 minutes away.

The Redskins training facility was beyond out-of-date until Shanahan's mission to get training camp in Richmond, Virginia helped fuel a partial re-model of Redskins Park (with state funding) and a new training camp home.

They finally fired former head athletic trainer Larry Hess as soon as Rivera took over, a move that was celebrated by many players, current and former.

How do you get around these issues? Besides the obvious (winning or paying top dollar).

You bring in talent that feels a pride about representing their hometown or the organization they grew up rooting for. Sometimes that's the same, sometimes it's different.

Tapping into a players psyche is ultra-important in today's NFL.

If you can get players to buy in or have a certain level of pride in an unstable world - why wouldn't you?

The Redskins have often been accused of not using common sense in a lot of their decisions and business practices.

This is a classic counter example. This philosophy makes all the sense in the world and should be recognized. 

 What do you think Redskins fans? Good idea or bad idea to focus on bringing players from the D-M-V area home? Sign up free, register and join us by voicing your opinion on our community pages and right below!

Chris Russell is the Publisher of & Sports Illustrated's Washington Redskins channel. He can be heard on 106.7 The FAN in the Washington D.C. area and world-wide on Chris also hosts the "Locked on Redskins" Podcast and can be read via subscription to Warpath Magazine. You can e-mail Chris at or follow him on Twitter at @Russellmania621.