In open locker room today, in front of the assembled media, David Elfin of the Washington Times presented The B.J. Blanchard Good Guy Award, which goes, as the plaque says, “To The Washington Redskins Player Who Has Best Helped The Media Do Its Job.”
If you were to go purely by number of words written (and spoken, and shouted by talking heads in little boxes), you would probably think this would go to Clinton Portis, for such hits as “Clinton Portis Wants A Different Offensive Line,” “Clinton Portis Battles Brian Mitchell,” “Clinton Portis Crushes His Coach,” and “Clinton Portis Wears Something Red,” among many others.
But that would miss the point of the award. This award honors the guy who cooperates with the media, who makes himself available, who talks even when things are going wrong. The kind of guy, for example, who stands and rehashes his own “boneheaded play” over and over and over again for as long as the media needs him. This year, it’s Pete Kendall.
Elfin explained to me how the award, named after the longtime receptionist at Redskins Park, developed: “I came off the beat after the 1999 season and thought, ‘You know, we never really honored the players for how much they cooperated with us through tough times,'” he said. “So when I came back in a more extensive fashion in 2002, we started this award. We talked about it and decided it was The Good Guy Award, and since B.J. had always been so good to everyone in the media – kind of everyone’s mom in this building, as you know – we named it after her.”
Previous award winners have included Jason Campbell, London Fletcher, and Fred Smoot, among others, so I figured I’d see how such a prestigious honor had changed Smoot’s life.
“I got sent to Minnesota right after,” he said, philosophically, “which, in turn, changed my life.”
“I’d think about retiring. It’s an either/or thing, but it doesn’t always turn out great.” He turned to Elfin. “Who won it before me? Champ Bailey.”
“Yeah, but he won it twice before you,” Elfin pointed out, “so he made it back one time” before being traded to Denver.
“But he left,” Smoot said. “And who won it after me?”
That would be Renaldo Wynn, also gone. “See?” Smoot said. “It’s a great award, don’t get me wrong, there’s just a little taboo attached to it.”
Casey Rabach, another excellent talker and media favorite, seemed happy for the guy who lines up to his left. “He definitely deserves it,” Rabach said. “He’s got a great accent, and gives out great quotes. I’ve got an accent nobody can understand, so I’m out of luck.”
Anything else that Pete does well in interviews? Rabach though for a moment, then added, “He also has very good posture.”
One person who spotted Kendall’s media success early and tried to capitalize was Isaiah Ross, who attempted to charge five dollars a person for access to Kendall’s locker (without much in the way of results). ” If I’d jumped on at the right point,” Ross said, “it could’ve worked. It’s like the dot-com bubble, really.”