For the first time ever, the Washington Redskins invited those media members who regularly cover the team to take to the field in a friendly flag football game dubbed the Media Bowl.
As someone who is heading into my eighth season covering the team, I was fortunate enough to earn an invite to this inaugural event which was held in the team’s brand-new facility known simply as the “practice bubble.”
Upon arriving at Redskins Park this past Saturday, I was informed that I was on the Burgundy Team (TV and web folks). Our opponents? The Gold Team (print and radio media).
After some light stretching and route running, everyone from both sides gathered for a quick rundown of the rules for this monumental occasion and the ceremonial coin toss. And with that, the game was officially underway.
Rather than giving a blow-by-blow account of the game, I’ll simply share 10 random thoughts about the 2012 Media Bowl:
- This game was made possible thank to Tony Wyllie, who is the senior vice president of communications for the Redskins, and his staff. Tony wanted to jumpstart the 2012 season in a fun, lighthearted way and decided to borrow the idea from his time with the Houston Texans. There was one small change to the format this year though — instead of playing on the full-length football field, Wyllie made the executive decision to stage the game from sideline to sideline. I, for one, would have much rather played on the bigger field and will lobby for this change for next year’s game.
- Our uniforms for the game were burgundy t-shirts that read “Beat Philly,” while the Gold Team donned “Beat Dallas” t-shirts. This is one sure-fire way to ensure both teams are playing for the name on the front, rather than their names on the back. In related news, the Redskins also opted to not have our names on the back of our jerseys.
- While a total of 30 individuals participated in this inaugural event, there were several noteworthy media members absent, including: LaVar Arrington, Chad Dukes, John Keim, David Elfin, Dan Hellie, Dan Steinberg, Mike Wise and Jason Reid. I’ve been assured that their game checks will be withheld for failing to show up for this mandatory team function.
- While the game featured 7-on-7 play, our Burgundy Team had 16 players. During the first half, the decision was made to split us up into two squads. Unfortunately, there were only two players on the Burgundy Team’s roster capable of throwing a halfway decent pass (CSN’s Ivan Carter and Sports Journey’s Lake Lewis) and both of them were on the same squad. In related news, their squad was responsible for a bulk of the offense while my squad was really good at throwing interceptions.
- See the photo at the top of this page? That’s me doing my best diva receiver routine. Every single time we took the field, I begged whoever was playing quarterback to do his best Mark Brunell impression so we could simply dink-and-dunk our way down the field. And without fail, the quarterback would agree with me … until the ball was snapped and they forced a wounded duck 20 yards down field that was easily picked off.
- One of the Gold Team’s interceptions was snagged by Grant Paulsen of 106.7 The Fan, who — from this day forward — will forever be known as the guy most likely to over-celebrate even the most routine of plays. I love Paulsen, but I’m pretty sure he ended the game on the sideline after hurting his back by repeatedly patting himself on it all game long.
- Kevin and Rock, also of 106.7 The Fan, clearly enjoy spending time together. Not only do they do an entertaining radio show together, but they also did their best to hijack this flag football game with Kevin happily playing the part of quarterback who only throws passes to Rock. The dynamic duo was able to connect on a touchdown pass to take a brief 12-6 lead, but it was only a matter of time before the Burgundy Team double covered Rock and forced the Gold Team to involve someone else in their offense.
- The scariest moment of the game came when Chris Russell, of ESPN 980, caught a one-yard pass and nearly trampled WUSA 9′s Kristen Berset to death. I’m guessing the Gold Team was hoping to replicate William “The Refrigerator” Perry’s touchdown from back in the day, but they were at least 30 yards from the endzone, so Russell was easily stopped … after he had bulldozed Berset. Seriously, Russell, will you please stop being such a bully? What the hell has Kristen ever done to you?
- I thought I had a sure-fire touchdown halfway through the second half. Sadly, the play died before it ever had a chance … and my teammate was to blame. The Burgundy Team’s offense took over at midfield and rather than lining up in a conventional way, I opted to sneak all the way over to the far sideline where it appeared I wasn’t even on the field. I was standing there, pretending to be chatting with Larry Michael, who was providing play-by-play and there wasn’t a Gold Team player within 15 yards of me. All we had to do was hike the ball and it would have been the easy touchdown in the history of football. But before we could snap the ball, FOX 5′s Dave Ross tried to sprint onto the field and I had to give myself away to keep us from getting penalized for having too many men on the field. Not cool, Ross. Not cool.
- The Burgundy Team’s two best players were Charlie Broyhill, of Redskins Nation, and WUSA 9′s Nicole White. Broyhill caught the game-winning touchdown, while White hauled in the key two-point conversion that was the difference in this 20-18 game. These two definitely came to play.
All in all, it was a highly-enjoyable way to spend the day and, on behalf of the participants, I’d like to thank the Redskins for allowing us the opportunity to embarrass ourselves. While it was great fun, it’s safe to say that the Redskins won’t be offering any of us contracts.
Finally, for those who may be interested, here’s a link to the video “highlights” of the 2012 Media Bowl, courtesy of Redskins Nation.