(photo by Brian Murphy)
It’s been about a week now, so clearly it’s time for another so-called controversy involving a Washington Redskins player and overly sensitive media members.
First, it was cornerback DeAngelo Hall who came under fire because he had the audacity to suggest that, if given the opportunity, a football player might not exactly take it easy on an opponent who is recovering from an injury.
Hall said he’d love to put his helmet on Dallas quarterback Tony Romo’s ribs, and suddenly heads began to explode. It didn’t matter that Hall said what 99 percent of football players feel in that situation.
The sheer fact that he was willing to say it out loud and on the record was enough for some people to get their panties in a bunch.
Well, one week later the tide has turned on Pro Bowl tight end Chris Cooley, who became the second Washington player in as many weeks to have a public opinion on Romo.
During his weekly radio appearance with LaVar Arrington and Chad Dukes, Cooley admitted to enjoying the fact that the Dallas quarterback was a part of the biggest collapse in franchise history against Detroit.
“It’s so good,” said Cooley. “I was watching the scoreboard in St. Louis, and I didn’t see that they’d lost really until the end. I thought they blew them out, so I kind of stopped paying attention. It’s amazing, Amazing to watch him choke like that.
“I’m just saying, I’m up 24 points in the third quarter, if I’m the head coach, I feel like I could probably just take a knee for the rest of the game, punt it away and there’s no way that Detroit’s gonna drive on you that many times,” he continued. “The only way you’re gonna give up that many points is turnovers, right? It’s hilarious to watch him throw pick sixes, too, back-to-back. I loved it.”
Never mind that far worse is said around the water cooler each and every Monday morning or that those comments would seem completely warranted on Pardon The Interruption, Around the Horn or a dozen other shows involving talking heads. Cooley is a current NFL player; therefore he’s apparently expected to only speak in boring clichés and forgettable sound bites.
“Cooley likes to talk a lot, and say and write outrageous things,” wrote Dan Graziano, on ESPN.com. “And someday that’s liable to land him a spot on one of those studio shows like Deion [Sanders]. But for now, while he’s still playing in the same league as Romo, it’s flat-out wrong for him to have said what he said. When someone like me criticizes an NFL player, other NFL players will often chide me for not knowing how hard it is to do what the player was trying to do. Cooley should know better, and he really should apologize.”
Graziano wasn’t alone though. Even formerly-relevant NFL players couldn’t resist coming after Cooley.
“The guy (Romo) now has played in three games in which he’s had to take, I think, either six or seven numbing shots to go out there on the field and play,” said Boomer Esiason during a radio interview. “Now, whether or not I think that’s the correct thing to do, or whatever, notwithstanding. When you think about that for one moment, what he’s done for his football team – for a guy like Chris Cooley to mouth off like that, he’s an idiot.”
On a certain level, I understood when criticism began to mount against Hall. I didn’t agree with it, but I at least understood why people were willing to speak up against him.
Hall is someone who has been involved with controversy before, during his time in Atlanta and Oakland. He’s a guy who I’m pretty sure wanted to fight the Falcons head coach when the Redskins played there a couple years ago, and he’s been known to say things that rub folks the wrong way from time to time.
But when people are going after Cooley for having a personality and not being afraid to have a little fun every once in a while, well, that just strikes me as people being too damned sensitive.
“I try to have fun, I try to goof around a little bit, and I think when things get printed, the hint of sarcasm goes away,” Cooley said to Jimmy Traina of Sports Illustrated following the backlash. “The hint of joking around goes away. It becomes a serious challenge, and you think, ‘Oh my gosh. Just chill out for just two seconds.’ I work in the entertainment business. I’m joking around on the radio. I’m not honestly talking trash to Tony Romo or the Cowboys.
“People really are surprised when I talk like a regular person I guess,” he continued. “I’m a fan of the game and I cheer for the Redskins. Now, if you wanted me to go on your show or if you wanted me to go on a radio show and say everything politically correct and be boring, I have no problem doing that. I obviously have the ability to do that.”
Here’s the thing, Cooley has been the same goofy and fun loving guy since he came into the league eight seasons ago.
He’s the guy who wears hot pants to practice, introduced himself to opposing players as Captain Chaos and loves to clown around to keep things loose when the locker room is a little too tightly wound.
If any of these “mediots” would have listened to the entire hour-long interview, they would have heard Cooley also poke fun at himself and his current role in the offense.
The 29-year-old also referred to himself as the highest-paid fullback in the league, pointed out that rookie linebacker Ryan Kerrigan has more touchdowns than he does and that his quarterback, Rex Grossman, completed more passes Sunday to St. Louis Rams players than to Cooley.
It wasn’t like he was going out of his way to kick Romo or anyone else. Cooley was being Cooley clowning around during a radio appearance. I mean, he even poked fun at fantasy football owners who have taken to the internet to voice their frustrations with his slow start.
“So many people are mad about my fantasy performance, and everyone gets on Twitter and talks about how bad I suck,” Cooley said. “Well you know what? You suck at fantasy football, because obviously I’m not getting many yards. It’s the fourth week, let’s make an adjustment. New tight end time.”
What makes Cooley such a fan favorite in Washington is the fact that he’s willing to admit he’s having a blast doing a job most people can only dream of. He’s not blessed with blazing speed or amazing athleticism, he’s a man of the people who works hard and actually cares about the team he plays for.
In a day and age when players are happy to sign on the dotted line with whichever team offers the biggest pay day, Cooley is a rarity who says he’d rather retire than play for anyone other team than the Redskins.
You’d think that those morons criticizing Cooley for having the audacity to try and entertain would have figured out by now who he is and what he’s about.
But we now live in a bubble-wrapped world where everything has to be politically correct and no one is ever allowed to say anything remotely interesting for fear of offending someone. So naturally, something like this is bound to happen.
Thankfully, Cooley is the type of player who won’t let a few crybabies ruin a good thing. He’s not going to apologize for being interesting or having fun. For better or worse, he is who he is, and I for one, couldn’t be happier to have the guy in town.
[Update: Chris Cooley responds to the mediots on his website. Please do check it out.]