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Redskins’ Nick Sundberg affecting lives with laundry program – Washington Redskins Blog



ASHBURN, Va. — With his mom and sister standing next to him inside the Fredericksburg, Virginia, homeless shelter, Keyshawn Pendleton did what sixth-graders do: boast about his sports accomplishments. He bragged about his handles in basketball and the time he refused to be tackled during football practice.

But there was another topic that mattered more: clean clothes. He stood inside a burgundy-and-gold laundry room in March at the Brisben Center with three new washers and three new dryers. It mattered to him.

“I don’t have to get teased,” he said. “I can go to school and not have people looking at me weird and asking me why are my pants so wrinkly?”

Keyshawn is among those affected by a program started by Washington Redskins long-snapper Nick Sundberg and his wife, Flor. The Sundbergs were sitting on the couch one night two years ago when their world shifted. Flor was scrolling through social media when she came across a story about washers and dryers and schools. She showed Nick, who replied with a common response: “I never knew this was an issue.”

“This program has exceeded everyone’s expectation. Once we started getting positive feedback, we were like, ‘This is it.'”

Jane Rodgers, former director of the Redskins’ charitable foundation

Turns out it’s a big one. And it has turned into a cause for the Sundbergs and the Redskins, one that has resulted in washers and dryers being installed in 47 Title I schools or community centers in the Washington region, with a goal of adding another 103 within the next year. The foundation has raised more than $450,000, and the objective is to add another $400,000 in funding for 50 more schools by the end of the year.

Within a day of formulating their idea, Nick Sundberg approached the Redskins’ charitable foundation about helping out, and it has since mushroomed.

“I had no idea I’d ever be passionate about washers and dryers,” he said.

That passion led to the formation of the Loads of Love program, whose acronym — LOL — was hatched by Flor. They didn’t want something that sounded too serious or might have a negative connotation. This fit perfectly.

They sent out emails, asking schools and centers to submit a proposal. During a conference call with school officials from Prince George’s County in suburban Maryland, Sundberg said they were told, “Washers and dryers are the No. 1 thing asked for in donations that we don’t get.”

“I’ve been giving money to schools for years and I never heard of this as an issue,” said Sundberg, who is heading into his 10th season with the Redskins.

Getting started

Next came the hard work. They needed to test the program and determine the costs, so they started with three schools and two homeless shelters. It required an initial $50,000 investment (Sundberg matched a $25,000 donation by the Redskins) to cover the $10,000 cost at each site.

The cost involves more than just washers and dryers. At Magnolia Elementary School in suburban Maryland, for example, they had to convert a custodial closet into a laundry room. There’s money for contractors, lawyers and so forth.

“Originally, I looked up washers and dryers and thought, ‘Oh, you can get a washer and dryer for $1,000 bucks. It’s not that big a deal,'” Sundberg said. “Then you start going through the process, and I totally forgot about electric and plumbing and HVAC and drywall and having a space and whether a room is available.”

It took six months to get the first three sites ready. The early returns were positive, and the Redskins and Sundberg grew the program.

“We forget how important it is to have clean clothes, especially for children. It’s so easy to become a target with the bullying, so easy to pick on a child who has less than the next child.”

Kim Lally, developmental director for the Brisben Center

At the Redskins’ Welcome Home Luncheon in August 2018, team owner Dan Snyder announced a $100,000 donation. Proceeds from the luncheon went to the LOL program, and it raised $375,000. Sundberg continues to donate (he is matching another $25,000) while also serving as the public face of the program.

“When we first came in, we were thinking about homeless students,” said Jane Rodgers, who was the director of the Redskins’ charitable foundation when the LOL program started. They quickly realized the program would have a much broader impact.

“It’s offsetting another cost [for families],” Rodgers said. “This program has exceeded everyone’s expectation. Once we started getting positive feedback, we were like, ‘This is it.'”

Seeing the impact

The third-grade boy entered the Magnolia Elementary School laundry room carrying a bag of clothes. He didn’t need to bring his clothes to school in the past, but his aunt (who is his guardian) was undergoing chemotherapy and the little boy did not want her to be burdened with his laundry. So he toted the bag, which contained sheets and clothing, to school. He was led to the laundry room and given a tutorial on what to do. He took it from there.

“He was a bed-wetter and he didn’t want her to wash his clothes anymore,” said Magnolia’s principal, Dr. Phyllis Gillens. “When he came in, you could tell in his face this was something he wanted to do. Those things really drive me and [help people] see the impact of having the program here. We have families in need, and sometimes you don’t know a family is in need until you start having conversations. Then we say, ‘OK, this is a way we can assist you and make it easier.'”

Gillens sees proof of the program’s success in students’ faces and hears about it from teachers.

“We’re not tracking them to gather that type of data,” Gillens said. “It’s more, when you see them and you just know that they are happy now. It’s just a feeling and sense you get they’re happy and they’re taking on this responsibility. Teachers tell me the children are happier in the class because they have on a clean top, and before, they didn’t.”

There are NFL players who can relate.

In a video presentation at the luncheon last August, running back Kapri Bibbs, who once lived in a house with 23 others, said some weeks he would wear the same clothes to school three days in a row.

“We didn’t have the money to wash,” Bibbs said. “It seems like something that’s small from the outside looking in, but kids come around, ‘Oh, he’s dirty. He don’t got this; he don’t got that. He stinks. He don’t got deodorant.’ You’re feeling like an outcast when you’re noticing you’re that kid that doesn’t have.”

The Sundbergs can empathize, as well. At least when it comes to sitting in class with clothes that aren’t the newest or brightest or, at times, the cleanest. Neither grew up wealthy — “underprivileged,” Flor said. Nick grew up an only child in suburban Phoenix; his mother smoked.

“I remember the very first time I went to school and sitting in class and someone was like, ‘God, who smells like smoke?’ I was like, ‘Oh damn,'” he said.

“The next day, I picked out my clothes and threw them in the dryer with five dryer sheets and waited 20 minutes to hopefully get the smell out. I did that every single day until we moved my junior year of high school. I was lucky enough that I had the ability to do that.”

One of his best friends in elementary school wore the same clothes every day.

“He got picked on all the time,” Sundberg said. “I remember seeing how defeated he looked in those situations, and I remember trying to make him feel better, so [now] being older and being able to possibly curb some of those issues coming up now is something I absolutely want to do.”

Flor was born in Mexico, and her family settled in Delano, California — about a two hours’ drive north of Los Angeles — when she was about 5 years old. They lived with family members for “a couple years” while her dad worked in the fields picking grapes and strawberries and split time as a mechanic.

“I remember going to laundromats with my parents to get clothes cleaned and how much hassle that was,” said Flor, now a licensed attorney in Virginia and California. “Where I grew up, a lot of migrant farmers live in labor camps. You live in a trailer park camp or shack connected to the fields where your parents work. There’s barely running water and toilets, much less washers and dryers.”

The workers at the Brisben Center often hear of families facing similar circumstances.

“Sometimes before you get into the shelter, you might be living in your car,” said Kim Lally, the developmental director at the Brisben Center. “And then you have to make a decision: ‘I have $6, so am I going to get burgers for my kids tonight or am I going to have to take that $6 and go do laundry?’ Well, you know what’s going to win out. We were hearing that a lot. We take clean clothing and having a washer and dryer at our disposal for granted.”

The need for the program was obvious in many places.

Sixth-grader Keyshawn Pendleton’s mother, Mishanda Green — who has since moved the family out of the Brisben Center — beamed as she showed a visitor the laundry room in March. During her time at the center, she became a de facto mayor of the room. She would show new guests how to work the machines — not everyone there can read. Green also would clean the machines to keep them looking new.

“I’m thankful to have them because I’ve been in many places and I didn’t have a washer and dryer,” Green said. “It’s costly when you’re a single parent, and you don’t always have the funds. Even at the laundromat when you put money in the machine, they’re still not dry. You put the clothes in here, one spin and they’re dry.”

Lally offered additional insight.

“We forget how important it is to have clean clothes, especially for children,” Lally said. “It’s so easy to become a target with the bullying, so easy to pick on a child who has less than the next child. I guarantee you any child who walks out this door for school Monday through Friday has clean clothing. I can’t stress how important that is.”

Nationwide issue

During the 2017-18 school year, a girl approached Patrick DiSalvo, the mental health practitioner at KIPP DC WILL Academy, with a problem.

She didn’t have a clean uniform. KIPP had yet to set up the LOL program, so there was one option for DiSalvo: wash the clothes himself. Sometimes, other teachers at the school did the same.

“It’s not a conversation where they come in and are like, ‘Hey, I need a uniform,'” DiSalvo said. “You can see the demeanor and the body language. They’re not coming to me with a proud chest and a chin picked up. Usually it’s like, ‘I’m not in a great situation; I need a little help.'”

DiSalvo doubled as the school’s basketball coach. Before he had a car, he would lug a bag of 15 uniforms home on the bus every night so he could wash them. In February, the ribbon was cut on the school’s new laundry room — a converted custodial closet.

There are similar stories around the country, and this program aims to reduce that number. The key will be where it goes next.

As of now, the Redskins’ program is limited to the D.C. region. Sundberg said he would like to find a way for it to help other areas; he has heard from players about wanting to do something in their hometowns. For Sundberg and the Redskins, it could be providing a grant or, perhaps, advice.

“You try not to think about where you are and only about where you can go,” Sundberg said. “One of the things that got me so amped about this program was this isn’t a region-specific issue. This is a nationwide issue.”

It leads to conflicting emotions. Sometimes at the ceremonies, parents will come up to the Sundbergs and thank them. Nick admits to feeling tears well up. But he also knows what the program is doing helps — and that there’s more that can be done.

“It’s been a huge boost for a lot of our kids,” DiSalvo said. “Math, reading, all these things are super important, and why we work with students is to teach them these things. But if we don’t have that baseline, providing them dignity and a safe space and helping them feel good, it’s really hard to get to that other level.”

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Sources — Colts won’t recoup money from Luck



Despite the fact that they could have recouped $24.8 million from their former quarterback, the Indianapolis Colts have reached a financial settlement with Andrew Luck and will not take back any of the money they are owed, league sources tell ESPN.

The Colts essentially are telling Luck to keep it all, even though it is within their rights to reclaim the money.

The settlement was reached late last week, according to a source familiar with the talks.

Luck could have owed the Colts $12.8 million as a pro-rated portion of the $32 million signing bonus the Colts gave him when he signed his five-year extension in 2016, and another $12 million in roster bonuses he was paid in March. But Indianapolis waived its right to recoup the money and is allowing Luck to keep it all, after the poundings he’s taken and all he’s given to the franchise. It is, in an official way, his parting gift.

Shortly after the news of Luck’s retirement broke Saturday night, Colts owner Jim Irsay estimated Luck might be losing out on a half-billion dollars in potential NFL wages by retiring now.

“It’s a tough thing, look it, he’s leaving $450 million on the table potentially,” Irsay said. “I mean, a half a billion dollars, and he’s saying, ‘You know what, I want to have my integrity. I have to be able to look (wide receiver) T.Y. (Hilton) in the eye, look my teammates, look coach, look (GM) Chris (Ballard) and say, I’m all in,’ and he just didn’t feel he could do that.”

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Los Angeles Rams tackle Andrew Whitworth trying to keep his career alive at nearly 8,000 feet



WOLCOTT, Colo. — Daddy is sweating and it’s hot, but Andrew Whitworth‘s boys don’t notice. It’s time for a ride, in what’s become an annual offseason tradition, and it’s time for dad to provide the push.

Whitworth removes a couple of bags of golf clubs from the end of the golf cart in an effort to lighten the load, as sweat continuously drops from his graying goatee. The Los Angeles Rams’ 37-year-old left tackle pauses, trying to gather his breath, then leans over and finds his grip.

His 7-year-old son, Michael, yells from the passenger’s seat, “We’re ready!” and the 6-foot-7, 330-pound Whitworth begins to push. The cart inches forward, and 8-year-old son Drew hollers from the driver’s side, “What a ride!”

It’s the last Monday in June. Four days into the Whitworth family’s retreat to their offseason home high in the mountains of Colorado. Whitworth’s wife, Melissa, and two daughters remain in their hometown in Louisiana for a few extra days, as Whitworth takes on the challenge of starting his offseason workout regimen with Michael and Drew in tow. His boys are old enough to shadow dad as he plows through his grueling workout routine, but young enough to still get a kick out of the wild physical feats that he can pull off.

As Whitworth pushes the 900-pound golf cart, carrying his two 50-plus-pound kids across the driveway, his calf muscles flex and veins begin to pop. After exhausting his strength, Whitworth retreats to the shade inside his three-car garage, which has been partially converted into a home gym.

“Want to go again?” Drew hollers, before he puts the cart in reverse.

With Whitworth, who went through a 30-minute strength circuit prior to the push, trying to catch his breath in the thin mountain air, this portion of the day’s workout is over. Drew and Michael won’t get another free ride.

It’s Day 1 of Whitworth’s offseason program, one he must ease into at an altitude well more than a mile high — where your heart rate races even at a standstill, a satisfying breath is challenging to find, and the air is so dry that lip balm must remain a fixture in your pocket.

“I feel pretty good,” Whitworth says through a heavy breath, nearly 10 minutes after the great golf cart push. “Most of the time after these workouts, you feel pretty alive just because of the altitude.”

Training at altitude forces muscles to work harder due to the lack of oxygen in the air. It can also produce more red blood cells. It’s yet another way Whitworth is trying to extend his NFL career.

The start of Whitworth’s 14th NFL training camp remains five weeks away. The four-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time All-Pro has gone to great lengths to find new ways to motivate his mind and move his body. Over the span of his career, his workouts have ranged from prototypical Olympic weightlifting to carrying stones up the mountainside. Some of his workouts seem outside the box, if not unprecedented for an NFL player. But for all the crazy, as he describes it, it continues to pay off.

“I almost, in some ways, feel better now than I ever did,” Whitworth says. “I think I’m in better shape than I’ve ever been in.”

But at age 37, Whitworth is the oldest lineman in the NFL, and how much longer he can hold the title remains the biggest question.

“I still feel really good,” he says, though he acknowledges there are some bumps and bruises from football — swollen ankles and knees, battered hip labrums — that will never quite feel the same. “If I feel like I can’t go out and perform the way that I think I should be, then I just won’t be able to do it.”

So onward Whitworth goes into another Colorado summer, training to keep his mind sharp, his body energized and his career alive at 7,880 feet.

Inside the weight room at West Monroe High School in West Monroe, Louisiana, a wall features a distinguished list of the top weight lifters to pass through the Rebels’ powerhouse program.

The top spot in any category — bench, squat and power clean — is a proud accomplishment. But, according to Casey Sanders, West Monroe’s strength coach for the last 30 years, there’s one category that means the most.

“In the history of West Monroe,” Sanders says, “Normally our best power cleaners are our best football players. [Players] kind of know that.”

Whitworth set the standard when he cleaned 390 pounds before his senior season. For good measure, he set the record in the bench press, too, when he pressed 350 pounds. But it was the power clean mark that stood for 13 years until future Alabama and Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Cam Robinson beat it by 10 pounds.

Whitworth, however, still left a lasting legacy. “His work ethic was great,” Sanders says. “He just loved football and he loved training … that’s one of the biggest keys that he had going for him.”

Whitorth says Sanders became the biggest factor in his success. “He was the baseline and the foundation,” he says, and Whitworth took that knowledge with him to LSU, then on to Cincinnati, after the Bengals selected him in the second round of the 2006 draft.

Through 11 seasons with the Bengals, Whitworth developed an annual routine that former Bengals strength coach Chip Morton fondly looks back on. Whitworth would walk into Morton’s office, fold into a chair and rest his hands on his knees as a mischievous grin grew across his face.

“I knew what was coming,” Morton says through laughter, as he launches into a detailed explanation of Whitworth’s postseason routine.

“He would come in and sit down and say, ‘Okay, it’s that time of the year, what are we going to do?’ ” Morton says. “We would just discuss things and I would give him leads and ideas and he would just dive in and pursue it.”

After his five-year career at LSU, Whitworth arrived in Cincinnati well-versed in weightlifting, and really anything that required brute strength.

“I think he’d tell ya,” Morton says, “when he came to us, he was a certified meathead.”

But together with Morton, Whitworth diversified his strength.

One offseason, he was interested in becoming more fluid in his movements, so he took up yoga. At another point, he wanted to find a low-impact cardio solution, so Morton suggested Whitworth purchase a 95-pound chain to haul across the field. Days later, Whitworth showed up with his new purchase on display.



Rams LT Andrew Whitworth takes his training to the next level at his offseason home in Colorado. Go inside Whitworth’s workouts, and his mindset, as he prepares for his 14th season in the NFL. Video by Lindsey Thiry

“It’s one thing to say it, or to understand the concept of taking care of your body or getting into training,” Morton says. “It’s another thing to commit to it, and invest your own personal capital into it and your own personal time and all that. That’s what set Andrew apart.”

Whitworth trained in Muay Thai fighting, MMA and CrossFit. He also took private training in Jiu Jitsu. “I had to call in someone big enough to fight him,” says Jon Stutzman, a 5-foot-10, 175-pound Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt, who trains at a gym in Ohio, but stood no match for the amateur Whitworth. “He was gargantuan.”

As Whitworth grew older, and inspired by Morton, he became a big fan of weighted carries — simply walking with heavy weights. The exercises increased his stamina, and became an alternative to cardiovascular fitness that wouldn’t require as much running and pounding on his body.

“I think it was as much to save his body and find different ways to train his body to prolong things and not just be a slave to barbell training only,” Morton says.

“Drew, keep your arms straight — your left arm, keep it straight the whole time,” Whitworth says, as he lines up next to his boys at the driving range. Drew takes his dad’s advice, then hits a clean shot, straight ahead. “Yessir, real clean ball, dude.”

Whitworth pulls his own customized clubs — everything two inches longer — out of the bag. After he places a few chip shots on the green, he pulls out his driver.

“I can hit it a long way,” he says, as his stoic face hints at a grin. “But it’s not controlled.”

A loud whoosh sends a drive 315 yards from the tee.

“Wow!” Michael says. “It’s going to be really hard to beat that.”

For Whitworth, even while downing sliders with his kids at the snack shack, golf counts as workout. On any given day in Colorado, he will play 18 to 36 holes after his morning workout.

“It gives me an opportunity to reset mentally and physically to get out and sweat and just move the body and keep things working the way they should,” Whitworth says. “It just a great balance to being an athlete to play golf and to have an opportunity to have something else to work at that’s totally just not anything like football.”

It also provides time to spend with his family. Michael and Drew have taken to it, and they’re days away from competing in a father-son tournament. Whitworth’s wife, Melissa, his daughters and their long-time family nanny, Krista Howard, will play in a family scramble.

But on this day, it’s just the boys. And Whitworth, appearing slightly fatigued, plays coach, chauffeur and referee as things get chippy from hole to hole.

“Great job, Mike, keeping that arm out in front of you,” Whitworth hollers from the cart path to the random spot where he told the boys to tee off. “There you go! Good job, buddy!”

After playing nine holes, more or less, in no particular order but rather to avoid any other patrons, Whitworth navigates a return to the house, parks the cart and makes his way to sit on the outdoor couch on the back deck.

He stares out at an expansive view of the Rocky Mountain range. Steamboat Springs is far in the distance. He has something of a thousand-mile stare, as he ponders his football mortality. He’s put his mind and body through pain, whether it be in an offseason workout or playing last season through two sprained ankles. He admits he’s a glutton for punishment when it comes to training so that he can enjoy other life moments without feeling an ounce of guilt.

Whitworth, who is in the final season of a three-year, $36 million contract, talks through all the reasons why he’ll continue to play — and why he never actually considered retiring last season despite the overwhelming assumption — both inside and outside of his circle — that he would.

There’s the pursuit of a return trip to the Super Bowl and the chance to build an organization that not long ago was mired in mediocrity into a three-time division winner. There’s also the years of hard work that have kept his body moving, an investment he’s not ready to forfeit.

“It’s going to come down to being able to still play at a level that … if I feel like I can’t go out and perform the way that I think I should be, then I just won’t be able to do it,” Whitworth says. “I’m not going to go out there and struggle and be okay with it.

“So if I don’t feel like I can go out there and play, then that’s when it’s going to be done for me.”

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Source — Pack to cut 2017 2nd-round pick Jones



The Green Bay Packers will release safety Josh Jones on Sunday, and the former second-round pick is likely to get claimed on waivers, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Jones, the 61st overall pick in the 2017 draft, has been in and out of the lineup during his two years in Green Bay, starting 12 games over two years. He skipped the Packers’ voluntary offseason workouts this year, unhappy with his role on the team.

The Packers opened last season with former undrafted rookie Kentrell Brice and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix at safety. Even after Clinton-Dix was traded midway through last season, Jones was bypassed for a starting job when the Packers moved Tramon Williams from cornerback to safety. It wasn’t until after Brice sustained an ankle injury in Week 10 that Jones finally got his first start of the season in Week 11.

Since then, the Packers signed former Chicago Bears safety Adrian Amos to a four-year, $36 million contract in free agency and drafted safety Darnell Savage Jr. at No. 21 overall.

Jones was one of just three Packers rookies to appear in every game during the 2017 season, starting in seven of them. He posted 71 tackles with two sacks plus an interception and seven pass breakups. In his first career start (Week 3 of 2017 against the Bengals), Jones posted a career-high 11 tackles (10 solo) and became the first rookie defensive back in team history to record two sacks in a game.

ESPN’s Rob Demovsky contributed to this report.

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