Chris Horton seems to be a pretty quiet, affable guy. I remember talking to him during training camp, when he was a seventh round draft pick I had never heard of — and wasn’t even sure would make the team. I was new to this gig at that point and constantly surprised by how down to Earth and pleasant the players were being, but even given that, Horton stood out as a grounded dude. So it’s been a little surprising, in a pleasant way, watching him accrue vicious nicknames, accolades (with attendant teasing), and media attention.
Today, Horton was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month — a deserved honor, since he’s got four takeaways in two starts, plus assorted tackles in crucial places. And it wouldn’t be a Chris Horton honor if it weren’t accompanied with some light hazing.
That’s the front of Horton’s locker, marked off with tape. On one side is LaRon Landry; the other is Cornelius Griffin.
I caught up with Landry first, and he laughed. “Ask Griffin,” he said, and wouldn’t offer anything more. So I asked Griffin what the story is with the tape.
“Man, the story is, his clothes, his shoes, all in front of my locker,” he said. “I’m not the MOST organized guy, but I’m decent, you know what I mean? And his shoes are all in front of my locker?” He shook his head.
“And THEN, I come out of the shower, I got media people all over. I’ve been here nine years, y’know? Hold up. He’s a rookie.” Hence the tape. “It’s for him to keep his stuff in, keep the media away.” But not something that he has to stand in, right? “No, no, just to contain his stuff.”
(Griffin was quick to emphasize that Horton is “a good guy — a really good guy,” just so I didn’t get the wrong idea. Which was probably a good move, given how worried some people were after the Randy Thomas incident.)
Byron Westbrook’s locker is also in the vicinity, and he chimed in. “You name a guy Defensive Rookie of the Month, they think they can take over the whole locker room.”
The lines went down yesterday, actually, before the award was announced, and Horton was asked today if anything had changed since the honor. “Nope. It’s ‘Hey rookie, stay inside the white line.’ So, no change.” He smiled, though. It’s probably easier to take this kind of thing when you’re Rookie of the Month.