Commanders get recovery day; sports betting may be coming to FedEx Field


The Commanders announced Thursday that former cornerback Mike Bass will be added to their Ring of Fame. Bass, whom Washington named one of its 70 greatest players, will be inducted Sept. 11, during the season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and will have his name added to the stadium bowl at FedEx Field.

The Green Bay Packers drafted Bass in 1967 and sold his contract to Detroit. Bass spent the majority of his first two seasons on the Lions’ practice squad and then signed with Washington as a free agent in 1969, quickly becoming one of the franchise’s top defensive backs. In his seven seasons with the team, he started 104 consecutive games, including the playoffs, and recorded 30 interceptions, the fourth most in team history.

“I am very appreciative and humbled by this induction. It is the crowning moment of my career to date,” Bass told Washington’s website. “It is an extreme honor to be recognized as one of the greatest players in Washington’s history. I am forever indebted to my coaches, Coach Vince Lombardi and Coach George Allen, for giving me the opportunity and preparing me to contribute to the success of my team. I was part of a great defensive backfield, including Ken Houston, Brig Owens and Pat Fischer, all of whom I admire greatly.”

Bass suffered a neck injury in 1975 and aggravated it in July 1976. He announced his retirement that month after the team physician told him he could suffer permanent disability if he continued to play.

“I reinsured my neck this week, and X-rays showed a change in the vertebra,” Bass said at the time. “Under these circumstances, I didn’t feel it necessary to take a chance.”

Bass will be honored in a ceremony on the main concourse at FedEx Field and recognized at halftime.

Sports betting at FedEx Field?

The Commanders applied for a sportsbook license at FedEx Field, and the Maryland State Lottery & Gaming Control Agency will hear their request Aug. 10.

The team applied under the entity Maryland Stadium Sub, LLC, which was registered with the address of FedEx Field in September 2021.

When the Virginia General Assembly approved sports betting in 2020, the Commanders and FanDuel beat out other competitors to gain approval.

The new law stipulated that pro sports teams in Virginia were given “substantial and preferred consideration” to open a sportsbook and were allowed to partner with an operator to move up in priority.

The Commanders had been looking for a new location for a stadium and headquarters, and the deal appeared to be an enticement by the state of Virginia. In June, however, the Virginia General Assembly tabled any legislation that would determine the amount it would provide in support of a new stadium and entertainment complex. The decision to nix it was based in part on the team’s myriad off-field issues involving owner Daniel Snyder.

Despite the team’s desire to drum up a competition between the jurisdictions, Virginia isn’t an option until at least 2023, and D.C. is still squabbling over the fate of the land where RFK Stadium sits. The application for a sportsbook license in Maryland indicates staying at FedEx Field is a realistic move. Snyder owns the Landover stadium and its surrounding property in full. A covenant requires the team to stay there until at least 2027, after which it can leave or stick around.

Commanders practice was a recovery day for players Thursday, so instead of a padded workout, the team had a one-hour walk-through in its indoor facility, and players spent time with a massage therapist, a chiropractor and trainers.

Players and coaches also got a chance to learn from NFL official Roy Ellison and a contingent of referees.

“We’re going to have the referees in our different position groups,” Coach Ron Rivera said. “We’ll have the umpire and back judge, hopefully, explain what they’re looking for in holding. We’ll have the side judges explain to them what they’re looking for in coverage for offensive pass interference and defensive pass interference and all those little types of things. So it’s a good chance for us to learn from the referees.”

Washington worked out four defensive backs after practice Wednesday and signed De’Vante Bausby, a journeyman cornerback who has played for seven different NFL teams (including two stints each with the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos), the San Antonio Commanders of the Alliance of American Football and the New Jersey Generals of the U.S. Football League.

The team also waived linebacker Drew White with an injury designation, but he cleared waivers and converted to injured reserve. White tore his right ACL in Tuesday’s practice on what appeared to be a noncontact move.

“It’s very unfortunate,” Rivera said. “He’ll go through the process with the doctors, and the team will take care of all of his medical needs.”

Weekend in Canton for Mills

Defensive line coach Sam Mills III left for Canton, Ohio, after practice Thursday to attend the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 2022 enshrinement. His father, Sam Mills, will be posthumously inducted Saturday.

Mills was a 5-foot-9 linebacker who played for Montclair State as a walk-on and became the school’s all-time leader in tackles. He went undrafted in 1981, but after helping the Philadelphia Stars to a USFL title, Mills latched on with the New Orleans Saints and became a part of their famed “Dome Patrol.”

Mills played 12 seasons in the NFL — nine with the Saints and three with the Carolina Panthers — and totaled 1,265 tackles, 20.5 sacks and 11 interceptions. He earned three all-pro selections, and after retiring in 1997, he went on to coach as an assistant with the Panthers, who retired his No. 51 jersey. In 2005, he died of intestinal cancer.

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