feeling a draft

(photo by Brian Murphy)

I take my Redskins very seriously. At times I’m like an overprotective parent, hoping to shield my little mess of a kid away from all the harm and negativity in the world — even if it means, at times, trying to protect it from itself.

Let me say for the record, I don’t have a problem with Redskins owner Daniel Snyder. I have never once thought that his heart wasn’t in the right place. He’s loved the ‘Skins, just like I have, since day one. If for no other reason, I’ll always be cool with The Danny for that. But damn if the man doesn’t just make for public enemy number one with the media, who by the way are the people the cover his team on a day-to-day basis. Maybe it’s the perceived arrogance or the limited media availability or it’s just the fact that he’s mega-rich young guy who bought himself a silver spoon and one of the most successful sports franchises around. Whatever the reason, the folks charged with covering him and his team just plain don’t like him, and he gets no free passes from them. Especially this time of year.

It’s fitting that I bring up The Danny the day before the draft, because his name is always floating around out there during the offseason. How many NFL owners have a personal airplane? Couldn’t say. But we do know The Danny has Redskins One fueled up and ready to go on the first day of free agency or if there’s a personal workout that needs attended in the days leading up to the draft, as was the case this week when he watched a handful of kids go through one final session before finalizing the Redskins’ draft board.

There are a few names out there that are being repeated often enough to make ‘Skins fans take notice. The first name mentioned was Virginia offensive lineman Branden Albert, but at this point everyone’s fairly convinced he’ll be gone at least 10 spots before the Redskins are on the clock. With Jon Jansen and Randy Thomas seemingly unable to stay healthy for more than two games in a row, and the rest of the starters all over 30, it would seem wise for the Redskins to use their first rounder adding some youth to the line. But nothing’s that easy with the Washington Redskins, is it?

Another name we hear as a possible addition to the maroon and black (sorry Mr. Zorn, it’s too funny not to reference every once in a while) is Phillip Merling, a defensive lineman from Clemson. He’s one of the aforementioned player who worked out for The Danny and friends 48 hours before the draft. He’s also the gentleman who has dropped on some draft boards because of health issues, specifically a sports hernia. I read on the Redskins Insider blog that some scouts consider him a kind of Phillip Daniels 2.0, of sorts. While I like Daniels — he’s solid on and off the field and has the wingspan of a Buick — he’s never been someone the opposition has to gameplan for. And when we hear about the sports hernia, the locals can’t get a warm and fuzzy feeling. A sports hernia is no fun, and it doesn’t just magically go away one day. It’s the same injury that caused Philadelphia Eagles QB Donovan McNabb to end his 2005 season prematurely. Call me a pessimist, but I get a sneaking suspicion that if the Redskins draft Merling the best-case scenario is he turns out like linebacker Rocky McIntosh, a talented young player who had health issues when the ‘Skins drafted him in the second round of the 2006 draft and continues to have trouble staying on the field because of various injuries. At least they can work together rehabbing from whatever ails them. (In the immortal words of Tenacious D — “That’s fucking teamwork!”)

The other name floating out there is Oklahoma wide out Malcolm Kelly, who I would rather not see holding up a Redskins jersey at any point this weekend. He’s the guy who ran a terribly slow 40-yard dash and then blamed everyone else. Then he set up a “do over” on a faster track on campus and still ran a disappointing 4.63. He’s a player who, like Merling, finds himself sliding down the draft board, only his reason is called “character issues,” which is NFL code for “the guy’s an asshole.” He’s a big target, who isn’t very fast and has questionable character. Where have we heard that story before? Oh, that’s right — the ‘Skins drafted a guy by the name of Rod “Stone Hands” Gardner back in 2001, who is the poster child for that description. If ever a team should be afraid to walk down the aisle with a player like that, it’s the Redskins.

That’s why I’m openly praying for a trade — either dropping out of the first round to pick up additional selections, or to acquire a proven wide receiver like Anquan Boldin, Roy Williams or Chad Johnson. Sure, Johnson is carrying on like a jackass in Cincy, but he’s a Drew Rosenhaus guy, and we all know that The Super Agent is in The Danny’s “Fave Five.” As soon as he gets to D.C., he’ll be smiling and sitting courtside with Clinton Portis at Wizards games or in the front row with Jason Campbell at Capitals games.

At the end of the day, the Redskins need help on the offensive line, defensive line, at receiver and at safety. They would also like to draft a third-string quarterback now that New Orleans has decided to take on a charity case by the name of Mark Brunell, leaving Washington with only Campbell and Todd “The Tasty Drink” Collins behind center.

I traded emails with a few of the professionals who earn a living covering this team, and none of them can say with any amount of certainty what the Redskins will do at around 6:30 p.m. Saturday evening when it’s time to make the 21st pick in the draft. Names like LaRon Landry, Sean Taylor and Jason Campbell might lead fans to think that’s the Redskins will have no problems bringing in another cornerstone with their first rounder, but guys like Patrick Ramsey and Rod Gardner have also been first rounders over the last decade. My advice? Crack open a frosty and refreshing beverage, cross your fingers and pray like hell the front office brings home the goods, one way or the other.

In the words of Terrell Owens (when he’s not appearing on porn websites) get your popcorn ready.


damn the man update

A few loyal readers contacted me to point out that the link to ConcretePond’s Ovechkin t-shirt was down, so I emailed George to give him a head’s up, hoping he’d fix it so people could continue to pick up this wonderfully creative tee. Sadly, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. Here’s what George had to say:

“The NHL sent me a friendly letter requesting that I not sell them anymore and there won’t be any trouble. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.”

So if you were lucky enough to order one before “The Suits” stepped in and ruined a good thing, congrats. If not, sorry about your lucky. It just seems stupid to me that the NHL would get involved in something as minor as this – especially since they’ve been dying for attention the last few years. Let’s give the t-shirt the proper send off, the only way we know how.


ps — This article is one of the more enjoyable pieces written about the Caps all year long. Man crushes for everyone!


the history of civilization?

Growing up, I was a huge fan of the WWF. The theater involved with Hulk Hogan calling on his Hulkamaniacs to “say their prayers and eat their vitamins” so he could have the strength to defeat Andre the Giant was more than enough to have me tune in each Saturday morning.

I also grew up an avid boxing fan and often was able to talk my parents into letting me have a friend spend the night when one of Mike Tyson’s fights were going to be shown on HBO. From their standpoint it was simple – ‘Iron Mike’ was going to knock out his tomato can of an opponent in the first round and then they’d send my buddy and I to bed for the night. I bring this up because anyone whose ever heard the name Don King knows the ingredients for a entertaining weigh-in – lots of trash talking, some pushing and shoving and then the promise of a top-notch main event.

I bring up both of these examples because this entry is dedicated to the Washington Wizards, who are currently facing a “standing eight count” against the Cleveland LeBrons. You may remember Wiz guard DeShawn Stevenson calling King James “overrated,” and Gilbert Arenas following that up with a blog entry basically begging for a first-round bout with Cleveland because he was sure they were beatable. Well, in the immortal words of my mom, “Be careful what you ask for because you just may get it.” The Wizards hung around in game one until their biggest Achillies’ heel exposed itself once again.

For three years I’ve argued with other locals who follow this team that they’re never going to venture deep into the playoffs unless radical changes are made to the composition of this team. There are simply too many guys who settle for jump shots instead of driving into the paint and getting the tough baskets or forcing the opposition into foul trouble.
That may work for stretches during the regular season, but when everything intensifies during the postseason, jump shooters have a way of going cold and missing the big shots with the game on the line. That’s why ESPN always shows when a shooter drains a 20 footer in the second half — because they just don’t go in that often in the playoffs.

Antawn Jamison is a wonderful complementary player, but he’s not the type of go-to player who is willing to bang around down low and muscle his way to the basket when the season is on the line. Gilbert Arenas is fearless, when healthy, but this player wearing #0 is not that same player. Injuries have limited Agent Zero to 15 points and three assists a game so far in the playoffs, which is fine if you’re Derek Fisher. Not so much for Arenas, who fancies himself a superstar. Ditto with Caron Butler’s production, who is bringing home 13 points and five boards a night. Brendan Haywood is willing to get down and dirty — shoving King James into the third row of seats behind the basket when James had the audacity to try to drive the basket while Haywood was on the court (he hasn’t been this willing to get physical since the last time he and teammate Etan Thomas read poetry together). But Haywood can only do so much. Anyone expecting more than 10 points and 10 rebounds from Brendan is in for a letdown.

So this leads us to a fairly simple question — if the Wizards are built for regular season success, at best, and are suffering from the same rash of injuries that have hampered them for the last two years, why are they talking trash to the best young player in the game? Um … anyone?

“I think the Washington Wizards have got to be the dumbest team in the history of civilization,” said Charles Barkley, who never shies away from a chance to state the obvious. “I think for them to rile up LeBron, who is the second best player in the NBA, I think that’s just stupid.”

The bottom line is, unless the Wiz can stop talking the talk and start walking the walk, they’ll be golfing the golf by next weekend. They’re entertaining and a fun team to watch, and when the shots are falling, they can run with anyone. But during the playoffs, I just don’t think their jump-shooting mentality, especially against a motivated Cleveland LeBrons squad, is good enough to carry them past the first round. If this series goes six games, I’d be stunned. Hopefully I’m wrong, but history (and not to mention Cleveland’s eight straight playoff wins against the Wiz) seem to agree.


capping off the caps

As some of you know, I’ve played on a beer league hockey team called The 5 Holes for seven years now. Well, our summer season started Tuesday night at 9:45 p.m., which was exactly when Game 7 of the Caps-Flyers series went to overtime. Half of the guys on the team are Caps fans and we have a few Flyers fans too, so it was tough heading out and playing — especially since I’d been to the first three home games in D.C. We ended up winning 7-2, which was great until we found out how the Caps-Flyers game ended.

Speaking of The 5 Holes, we’ve always gone to the same company — Concrete Pond — to order our jerseys. Well, the main guy over there, George, designed quite possibly the greatest Capitals inspired t-shirt in the history of the franchise – which can be seen on their website. George is such a great guy, he hooked my wife and I each up with a shirt prior to game one and I wore it to each of the home games. Additionally, I sent the link to Dan Steinberg, of Washington Post fame, and he dug it enough to give it some love on his blog. Now the things are selling like hot cakes, or something of equally-impressive selling quality, so go order one and tell them murf sent you.

Finally, back to the Caps. The day before the regular season finale I headed over to Kettler to watch the Caps optional practice. Their media relations guy, Nate Ewell, is a good guy and told me if I ever wanted to come out and shoot photos of practice to let him know and he’d hook me up. Well, he did. I spent the practice session in the penalty box (fitting, I know) and got some great shots. Due to popular demand, I added a handful of my shots from that day to my Flickr page, which can be found here.


going 5 hole: the caps

Five thoughts on the day after the Washington Capitals dream ride came to an end:

1. Alexander Ovechkin, who turns 23 this September, is already the best player that the District of Columbia has had during my 31 years on this planet. We’re not just talking hockey – we’re talking across the board. Opponents have yet to figure out a weakness in his game – he hits, he passes and lord knows he can score goals.

Remember the old Russian stereotype? You know, that all Russian athletes are essentially emotionless robots like Ivan Drago from the Rocky movies. Yeah, well, he shoots that right out the window. He celebrates every moment with unabashed enthusiasm and simultaneously endears himself to the ever-growing Captials fanbase.

2. Cristobal Huet just earned himself a fat new contract and the Caps should be the team to give it to him. Let’s take a minute to point out that Montreal gave up on the guy – traded him to the Caps for a second-round pick they acquired from the Ducks for center Brian Sutherby. (Sidenote: In 45 games this year with Anaheim, Sutherby registered zero goals, one assist and 57 penalty minutes. If it weren’t for the penalty minutes you wouldn’t even know he touched the ice). Huet went 11-2 down the stretch and posted a goals against average of 1.63 and a save percentage of .936 with two shutouts. In the playoffs his numbers weren’t as good, but neither was the defense in front of him for the first three games of the series.

Contrary to popular opinion in Montreal (and really, do we want to listen to anyone who riots after the top-seeded team in the conference advances out of the first round?) Huet is a goaltender you can build a team around. Sadly, that means it’s the end of the line for Olaf Kolzig, who has been the face of the franchise since he arrived in ’89. I would hope he decides to retire to focus on the Athletes Against Autism program he cares about so deeply, but I wouldn’t hold it against him if the Caps didn’t resign him and Olie went elsewhere to close out his career. He’s earned the right to do whatever he sees fit.

3. While I’d like to see Sergei Federov return, I just don’t think it’s going to happen. He’s 38 years old and very well may retire. But, if he wants to play another season or two he’s not a lock to remain in town. Let’s not forget that the Caps already have a similar pass-first forward named Michael Nylander on the roster, and will definitely need to find room in their top three lines for him and captain Chris Clark. That probably spells the end for the former Mr. Anna Kournikova, who helped Alex and Alex more than we’ll ever know.

4. The Capitals, in my honest opinion, need two more legit defenseman to take that next step. I’ve heard from a few different places that Brian Pothier may be done (concussion), but even if he were healthy he’s not the answer. Jeff Schultz and Milan Jurcina were nothing short of a liability every time they stepped out on the ice during the playoffs. Jurcina may be 6’4″ and 233 lbs., but he cannot clear the puck out of his zone to save his life. How he sneaks onto the playing surface during a penalty kill is beyond me. I’m not kidding when I say that if I were Bruce Boudreau, I would have hog-tied him to the bench any time my squad was a man down. If he even looked at the ice I’d instruct Donnie Brashear to “ka-bong” him. Signing two veteran blue liners or one vet and bringing in a talented youngster like Calgary Hitman defenseman Karl Alzner would keep a goalie like Huet from having to stand on his head three times a game. While it’s highly exciting to watch, it would probably extend the lives of Boudreau, George McPhee and Ted Leonsis by about a decade.

5. Otherwise, the Caps look an awful lot like the 2006-7 Pittsburgh Penguins. They didn’t make it past the first round in the first dance, but the building blocks are definitely in place. Nicklas Backstrom certainly didn’t play like a rookie during the Flyers series, and except for the occasional ill-advised penalty, Alexander Semin was probably the best Capital not named Huet over the last two weeks. Mike Green is channeling his inner Paul Coffey, while Brooks Laich (who people forget came to town when fan favorite Peter Bondra was traded away) has proven more than just eye candy for the ladies — gladly filling the thankless role of “guy who repeatedly get crosschecked for an entire shift while he screens the opposition’s goalie.” If Eric Fehr, Tomas Fleischmann or any of the other young guns can make modest improvements during the offseason than this team really doesn’t need much more to become one of the league’s elite. While other teams in the local market might not be able to make the same claim, the Washington Capitals can feel confident that they’re ready to “unleash the fury” on the opposition for the forseeable future.

(photo by Brian Murphy)


time to play the game

My parents knew at an early age that I was different than most kids. When I was in middle school, I would sit inches away from the TV set with a spiral notebook and my number-two pencil on NFL draft day, taking meticulous notes on every team’s moves throughout the day. If a player was traded, I would put a star by his name and a footnote on the bottom of the page detailing the specifics of the transaction. Nevermind that all of this information would be in the sports pages of the Washington Post the next day – even at the age of 12, I needed to be a part of the action as it was happening.

Fast forward nearly 20 years and not much has changed. I may have a wife, a mortgage and responsibilities, but at the end of the day I’m still the same kid at heart. The Washington Redskins, Capitals, Wizards, Nationals and D.C. United are very much a part of my day-to-day life, and therefore I decided to create this blog for myself and for any of the other district’s diehards.

What will hopefully set this blog apart from other places on the ‘net is that, from time to time, I have access to these teams. As a photojournalist, I come across opportunities to take photos and conduct interviews with some of D.C.’s finest. And if that’s not enough, as a Monday morning quarterback, I will happily share my thoughts and perspectives on each of the area’s Fab Five teams whenever the opportunity presents itself.

That’s more than enough about me. Let’s get to the good stuff.


One on one with Marcus Washington

In a world where dog fighting, weapons charges and police blotters dominate the sports pages it’s refreshing to come across a player like Marcus Washington. Between his positive outlook, 100-watt smile and infectious personality he quickly became a fan favorite ever since taking over our nation’s capital in 2004.

As the Redskins head into their bye week, we caught up with the locker room leader to talk about everything from dealing with his share of adversity last season to the town where everyone knows his name.

You are originally from Auburn, Alabama. What’s it like there and what was your childhood like?

My childhood? Hmmm … there’s not really a whole bunch going on in Auburn. Most days just consisted of playing with your friends, running through the woods and playing all different types of games – football, basketball – a little bit of everything. But, not a lot. Growing up loving Auburn football, loving college football.

How early did you start playing football and how many other positions did you play when you were younger? What was your favorite NFL team growing up?

I started playing in the yard when I was younger. I started organized football when I got to the seventh grade, and I started off playing strong safety, fullback, tight end, wide receiver and cornerback in high school. Receiver and corner were my best positions back then.

My favorite NFL team growing up? Probably the Buffalo Bills. I just liked them because they won a lot, they had some really good linebackers and I liked Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed and all those guys.

Are you naturally athletic, or did you have to work harder to get to the highest level of competition? What other sports, if any, are you good at?

I’m pretty athletic, but I’m probably more tough than anything. Out-toughing people, that’s probably the biggest thing in football.

I played a little basketball. I had to work more at basketball – it didn’t come as natural. I used to really like soccer too. In high school I played forward and center in basketball, now I’m probably more of a banger – more of a Ben Wallace-type player. But I could play a little bit in high school.

You attended Auburn High School in Auburn, Alabama, which is also where Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker Demarcus Ware and New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora went to high school. How is that much talent coming out of one high school?

I don’t know. Guys just really enjoy playing football down there in Auburn. It’s such a football-oriented town, you just kind of fall in love with it and you’ve got the university pretty much in your backyard, so you can watch certain players and get an understanding of how I need to play, day in and day out, to get to the next level.

Me and Osi actually took a couple classes together in high school and Demarcus, I played ball with him and his cousins. Yeah, we all know each other.

After high school, you played college ball for Auburn University. What was your overall college experience like and what did you get out of your time there?

It was cool. I played for my best friend’s dad, who was my position coach growing up. I got converted to linebacker and that was my first introduction to the linebacker position. It didn’t come naturally at first, but by my junior year I started coming into my own and got better. I was a slow developer – developed kind of late and was kind of small coming out of high school.

How big time is the football program there?

It’s pretty big time – especially the football program. That’s SEC football and people live, eat and breathe SEC football down there. We don’t have any pro teams, so either you’re Alabama or you’re Auburn. It’s not like a lot of other states where it’s divided up and people love a professional baseball team or professional basketball team. We don’t have any of that. You’re pretty much either Auburn or Alabama.

You were drafted by the Indianapolis Colts with the 28th pick in the second round (59th overall) of the 2000 NFL Draft. Talk to us about what it felt like to get drafted to play in the NFL. Were you happy to be drafted or were you disappointed you weren’t picked higher?

You know, I was just happy to be drafted. I figured if I could just get there I could do the rest. Just getting there, especially being drafted on the first day was a pretty big deal. I didn’t have any parties or anything, but just getting drafted was a big honor.

How much of a transition is it to go from the college game to the pros? And, what was like playing for a team that was clearly one of the best in the NFL on offense but wasn’t nearly as prolific on defense?

For me it was a pretty big transition because I was a defensive end my last year in college and had to become a stand-up linebacker. So a lot of times early on the play would be going one way and I’d be going the other way because I wasn’t used to it. It came and I got better, but I’m still learning – even if I’ve come a long ways.

It was an adjustment, but I learned a lot by going up against a really good offense day in and day out. You learn how to compete against guys that are pretty good at what they do. I think I really benefited by going against those guys day in and day out in practice.

Because of Peyton Manning’s contract situation you were made you a free agent in March of 2004 and the Washington Redskins quickly made you an offer. Were you disappointed that the Colts let you go or happy to head to Washington?

I wasn’t really disappointed because you have to understand the business side of it. In a perfect world I’m sure they would have kept me. Bill Polian actually wrote me a letter just kind of saying that he hated to let me go and things like that, but I didn’t have any hard feelings about it. There were some great guys over there, but I fell in love with D.C. We built this team based on our defense, so everything kind of worked out for me in the end. There’s a lot of tradition here, we’ve got a hard-nosed type of squad and the fans here are great and really love football. It reminds me of Auburn a little bit – we even have our big rivalry with Dallas and that whole Cowboys and Indians type of thing. I fell in love with the Redskins and with D.C.

A lot of people who are critical of the Redskins say they continue to overpay for free agent busts instead of focusing on the draft. Well, you were a free agent, and since Mr. Washington came to Washington, you’ve made the Pro Bowl in 2004 and anchored a top-ranked defense that carried the entire team to the playoffs in 2005. So not all of the Redskins free agents are busts, right?

It worked pretty well for me. You know, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Some teams like to do it from the draft. Some teams like to go out and get high-quality guys and we’ve been lucky to bring in some really good guys in here and we’ve been able to gel really fast. We’ve been pretty successful as a defense since I got here and I think we’ll continue to get better as a defense and as a team.

We think you’ve been spoiled a little bit – playing for Hall of Fame coach Job Gibbs and for future Hall of Famer Tony Dungy. Some players are only in the league long enough to play for a guy like Steve Spurrier, so how blessed are you to play for two of the best coaches of our generation?

I’m really fortunate because, the thing about great coaches is you learn a lot about football, but you learn a lot about life as well. You know, how to approach everyday life. Coach Dungy is a big Christian guy who has had to fight through some tough adversity and been pretty successful. You just kind of watch a guy like that and try to imitate him and you know you’ll be a pretty good man. And Coach Gibbs is the same way – he’s a Christian guy who very seldom curses, loves his family and is pretty much successful at everything he touches. Just being around people like that, I think it rubs off on you. Most times, when you hang around great people, they rub off on you.

Speaking of coaches who rarely curse, what is it like to play for Gregg Williams?

(Laughs). Gregg is a fiery coach, and I think on the defensive side of the ball you need a little of that. You need a coach who will light a fire up under you every now and then. I think if we gave Gregg a helmet on Sundays he’d be out there trying to make plays with us, so he definitely gets you going. He comes from that Buddy Ryan school of thought – a high intensity type coach. As a defensive player you love playing for a fiery defensive coordinator like that.

During a routine drug test last August, your urine sample was classified as diluted, and by league rules you were placed in the NFL’s substance abuse program. For the rest of the season you were subjected to random testing and you even had to undergo a psychiatric evaluation – even though you didn’t actually fail a drug test. How tough was it to go through all of that and should the NFL fix the system so they’re not penalizing a guy who could have simply drank too much water?

It was a tough deal last year. I hated it because I felt like I was being accused of a crime I didn’t do. It really pisses you off because you shouldn’t be guilty until proven innocent. It should be the other way around. But unfortunately, in that situation, it wasn’t the case. They definitely need to revisit that whole rule. I think in some of the other leagues – like in baseball or the NBA – if a guy’s sample is too diluted they just test him again. Especially if he hasn’t ever failed a drug test.

I’ve never failed one, all the way back to college, and this is my eighth year in the league. I got tested in the first couple days of training camp, when it’s pretty damn hot in Virginia, so you gotta be hydrated because they’re constantly preaching to us to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Well, you don’t wanna be too hydrated or you can get thrown into some crazy deal that haunts you all year. So, I think they need to revisit it and come up with some better ways to handle it to weed out the guys who are trying to mask something versus the guys who are just trying to take care of their bodies and do the right thing by hydrating.

Between the drug test, your hip injury last season and the dislocated elbow this preseason, I know you just wanted to get all of that past you and play football. How great has this solid start been for you personally and are the 2007 Washington Redskins for real? I know Coach Gibbs doesn’t like predictions, but can we expect a return to the playoffs?

It’s been great to put all that stuff behind me. Last year was a tough year for me, a tough year for the team, our coaches, the fans – everybody. It’s great to put all that behind you and start on a clean slate. So far we’ve gotten off to a pretty good start and we’re just trying to focus on the next game. We’re trying to go 1-0 for a week and not look too far down the road. We’re not worried about playoffs or starting to get measured for our Super Bowls rings or anything like that. We’re just out here working hard and approaching each game by putting our best foot forward and doing the best we can do. If we can consistently do that all year, then I think we’ll be fine.

Talk to us about gameday. Are your superstitious? Do you have a set routine – you know, a certain meal or music to get you in the right frame of mind?

I’m not a real superstitious guy. I like to listen to music to get hype. I like my music really loud so I can almost go into like another dimension. I don’t have a lot of superstitions. My towel has to be really nice and perfect, the way I like it and my music’s got to be loud. That’s it for me.

Anyone who has ever stepped into the locker room or watched you on the field during a TV timeout knows you love music. What are you listening to these days and what should fans put in the CD player to get them fired up on Sundays?

You know, I’m all over the place. When I first come into the locker room we’ve got maybe an hour and a half before its gametime, so I’ve got the slow jams pumping. I don’t wanna get too hype too fast. So I’ve got some slow jams, maybe some south rock. But about 30 minutes before the game you start to crank it up a little bit. Right now we’ve got that Young Jeezy, T.I. and that Soulja Boy’s been pretty hot lately. That’s kind of how I do it.

For fans, I would definitely go T.I. with T.I. versus T.I.P. That’s probably the hottest CD out right now. The hottest single out right now is probably “Crank That” by Soulja Boy.

A lot of your teammates are big into video games. Between the PS3 and the 360, I know some big games of Madden and Halo are played. Do you play?

I’ve got a PS3, but I haven’t played it a bunch. Actually, I haven’t played it any. I’ve been over on the PS2. I love playing NCAA college football. That’s my favorite game. I think some of the guys play Madden and have tournaments, but I’m more of a college guy. I just like to run the option. That’s one of my favorite plays and you can’t really run that on Madden, so I always play it on NCAA.

What would you be doing for a living if you never got into football?

If I hadn’t played in college and hadn’t gotten a scholarship then maybe I would have went into the military. Try to do it that way and choose a profession. Or, I’m really into history, so maybe I would have become a history teacher.

Which military branch could you have seen yourself choosing?

My uncle was an Army guy, but I think I would have tried the Navy SEALs – that’s the coolest thing ever. I don’t know if I could even make it, but definitely trying would have been cool. I would have been able to say I tried it and got this far.

And what do you see yourself doing after you retire from football?

Maybe teaching history. I think I want to go back to school and study history a little more. Maybe teach, and I don’t know, maybe even a little coaching.

I’m not sure if you know this, but 2,551 miles from Ashburn, Virginia, is a town called Marcus, in Washington State. Have you ever been out there?

I’ve never been out there. A couple people looked it up on the internet and told me about it. I used to know the population, but I can’t remember it right now …

At last count, there was something like 117 people there. Even though you’ve never been there, how do you envision the town of Marcus, Washington?

I think it should just be happy all the time. There should be a happy hour and wingfest every day, you know what I mean? There should be a mandatory nap time, so people can get off of work and go home and take a nap. But people would definitely be hype and have a good time with a bunch of parades, parties and a real upbeat town.

So if you roll in do they automatically have to give you the key to the city? How does that work?

I think I should be able to get the key to the city. If it’s a town called Marcus, Washington that would only be right. I should at least be considered for the key, if not given to me.

It’s funny because you grew up in Auburn and then went to Auburn. Your name is Washington, and you’re playing in Washington. At some point, you’re going to end up in Marcus, Washington – it’s already been laid out there for you.

(Laughs). I think so. I think that’s probably my destiny. I’ll be a history teacher out there in Marcus, Washington. That sounds like it may be in my future.

And finally, when they make a movie based on your life who will play you and what will the name of the movie be?

I think Denzel Washington might play me in the movie, and the name of it would be “Grustling” – a mixture of hustling and grinding. We call it grustling.

Interviewed by Brian Murphy, September 2007.

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