Cooley, Colt, Yoder, and the Crossbar

Based on this morning’s SportsCenter and the dramatic layout of the Post’s Sports section, I’m still one of about five people on the planet Earth who didn’t think Clinton Portis‘s comments yesterday were the single worst thing ever to occur. We’re at that point in the season where tensions run high anyhow, and this seems to have pushed Redskins fans even closer to the edge.

So it feels like an optimal time to look back at something completely lighthearted and unrelated to the current drama.

Before every game, before the official pregame warmups, Chris Cooley, Todd Yoder, and Colt Brennan get together and try to hit the crossbar of the goalpost with the ball. (This video doesn’t cover the whole contest, but it does give a large chunk of the matchup before the Sunday Night Dallas game.)

“We’ve done it on and off in the past,” Yoder said, “but this year when Colt came we set up a specific little game to play and started doing it every week.”

“It’s a popular game,” Cooley said. “Quarterbacks, kickers and punters have been doing it forever. We started the competition series this preseason with the three of us.”

Competition series rules are as follows, according to Brennan: “Five attempts from the five yard line, four from the ten, three from the 15, two from the 20, one from the 25. All three of us play the first round, then the two winners go to the second round, so it’s like a playoff for the championship.”

Opinions differ as to what the championship actually is. “There is no prize,” Cooley said.

Yoder disagreed slightly. “The prize is just pride. The pride of knowing that you won that week. It’s for manhood. Who is the biggest man that day.”

“It’s to see who’s the coolest,” Brennan offered. “For that day, I mean. Until the next Sunday.”

And that week’s winner?
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Chris Cooley Spends Tuesday Being A Tour Guide

tuesday-cooleytourguide

I wasn’t sure if there would be a player’s day off this week. I’ve written before about the way the workweek can get reset here — “there’s a Monday night game, so Saturday is Friday” and that kind of thing — and, to account for the long trip westward, Coach Zorn has moved travel day to Friday. So for all I knew, Tuesday would transform into Wednesday to adjust.

Not the case, though. It’s the players’ day off as usual, and Chris Cooley spent a huge chunk of it leading tours through Redskins Park. The tours were just a small part of an event Cooley organized for women battling breast cancer.

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I Wish I Got Austrian TV

It’s easy to make the media horde at Redskins Park look enormous; lord knows I’ve been guilty of it myself. And, numerically, it does tend to be a pretty substantial group, but by this point in the season they’ve all become fairly familiar. Even the guys I don’t know by name or haven’t spoken to, I recognize and can usually associate with a particularly network or publication.

So when new people show up, they tend to stand out, especially when they’re carrying unfamiliar microphones and speaking with European accents.

austrians

This is Hanno Settele, correspondent for Austrian national public service broadcaster ORF (it’s short for Österreichischer Rundfunk, and not to be confused with the airport in Norfolk, Virginia), alongside his cameraman. They were in open locker room today, interviewing players and having them record greetings to the Austrian audience.

I caught the beginning of Jim Zorn’s greeting, but didn’t know what was going on in time to tape the end. My notes on the beginning read “Hi, everybody,” and Barry Svrluga‘s went only a bit further, adding “I’m Jim Zorn, coach of the Washington Redskins. I’m the head coach.” It definitely went on from there, but I’ve asked around and haven’t been able to find a recording of it.

My recorder was running, though, when Settele approached Fred Smoot and explained who he was with.

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Zorn on Punters: “Chris Cooley Can’t Punt For Us”

Coach Zorn started his press conference with an update and something of a clarification on the punting situation. “We’re bringing some punters in tomorrow,” Zorn confirmed. “This has nothing to do with [Durant Brooks’s] injury.”

Zorn described the injury as “a nagging irritation” of the hip flexor or quad on Brooks’s right (kicking) leg, and said that Brooks was off getting an MRI this morning.

Pressed to clarify Vinny Cerrato’s statements on his radio show this morning, Zorn reiterated, “his position is in jeopardy because of performance, not because of injury.” Zorn suggested the Cerrato was making his assessment based on the apparent severity of the injury combined with the fact that the team was planning to bring in competition, but he emphasized that if Brooks was cleared by the doctors and none of the punters tomorrow clearly surpassed him, Brooks could well remain as the team’s punter.

As far as Cooley, someone asked if Brooks would be holding even if he didn’t punt, which Zorn found mildly amusing. “Chris Cooley can’t punt for us,” he said. “If [Brooks] can’t punt, he can’t hold.”

Actually, I had numerous reports from people who saw Cooley booting the ball around in pregame warmups, and they all thought he had a heck of a leg. It’s a questionable use of your Pro Bowl tight end, but maybe we shouldn’t rule anything out.

Making “The Mayne Event”

Kenny Mayne’s idea for his Mayne Event segment this week centers around the “Hip Hip Hooray” cheer, which appears to have caught the public imagination in a way that I couldn’t quite have imagined when Zorn first broke it out at the Welcome Home Luncheon.

As Mayne explained to me when I spoke to him, these shoots are not simple — this one includes a lot of players — but he manages to execute the actual shooting quickly and with an impressive minimum of fuss. Here, with the help of Redskins PR, he’s grabbed the first four guys he needs — Chris Samuels, Jason Campbell, Antwaan Randle El, and Colt Brennan — as they came off the field after morning practice, and he quickly gets them briefed on what they’re doing and set up to shoot the establishing shot of the segment.

EDIT TO ADD: We’re having some problems with the video; I’ll have it fixed as soon as I can. Fixed, hopefully.

There are multiple takes, of course, but on the whole the process moves surprisingly quickly and the guys really seem to get into it.

The most unusual element of Mayne’s shoot, actually, turns out to have nothing to do with him at all.
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Player’s POV – Rabach Asks Cooley About Food

Continuing with the Casey Rabach footage from the Dallas road trip….

The title of the post is actually misleading: Rabach doesn’t actually ask Cooley about food, he just encourages Cooley to talk about whatever’s at hand. In this case, whatever’s at hand is food.

So this video can be viewed as an answer to yet another fan favorite question: what sorts of things do players eat on the road? I found the answer somewhat surprising, but maybe I’m just easily startled.

Chris Cooley and Antwaan Randle El: Good Guys

A few people sent me the link to a story in the Frederick News-Post this weekend, about Chris Cooley driving up to Jefferson, MD, (west of Frederick) to visit with Ron Frazier. Frazier is a lifelong Redskins fan who was diagnosed with colon cancer, and a family friend contacted the team to see if they could, according to the article, “give Ron and Kathy one more joyful memory.”

The Redskins asked if it was possible for Ron to visit the team for a practice, but he is no longer able to travel. Instead, Cooley drove to Jefferson from Virginia on Friday after practice to meet the Fraziers. Two dozen friends, family members and neighbors were there. When the neighborhood children heard what was happening, they ran over, too.

Cooley posed for dozens of pictures and autographed everything in sight: footballs; posters; pennants; photos; hats — and, of course, a whole bunch of No. 47 jerseys. He stayed for nearly an hour, answering inside football questions, making small talk and discussing new coach Jim Zorn.

I read the article — it really is a terrific story — and set it aside to include in today’s Redskins links. As I watched the game, though, one particular part of the article came back to me: “Cooley promised to send Ron a keepsake football if he scored a touchdown Sunday.” So that was hanging in the balance, along with the score of the game, as Cooley’s touchdown catch was reviewed.

Then, today, I noticed this in the Washington Times:

Walking out of the Washington Redskins’ locker room after Sunday’s 23-17 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, Chris Cooley clutched the football he caught for his first touchdown of the season, part of a career day for the tight end.

But the game ball wasn’t for him.

Cooley intended to sign the football and award it to receiver Antwaan Randle El, who threw the pass Cooley caught for an 18-yard score.

I found Cooley in Redskins Park today and asked him about it. “I kinda got mixed up, because I told El during the week that I’d give it to him,” he shook his head. “I’m gonna give it to [Frazier]. I’m sure El does not care.”

He also mentioned enjoying the experience as a whole. “It was cool,” he said. “They were saying they have thirteen or fourteen seats in the lower bowl, and they all wear 47 jerseys.”

I asked if he had told El about the mix-up yet; he hadn’t, but I was fortunate enough to be around when he did, and it took Randle El about an eighth of a second to show himself to be every bit as classy as Cooley expected.

“Let me sign it too,” he said, after hearing the story. “That’ll work. That’s real good, actually.”

My recording of the conversation is hard to hear, as I just clicked on my recorder while the two talked, with the microphone not particularly close to either of them, so Cooley’s response is somewhat muddled. “I’ll bring it in this week,” he says, meaning the game ball. Then something muffled about visiting the Fraziers, and then, “He’s a really good guy.” It’s not clear if he’s referring to Frazier or Randle El, and in this case it can probably be safely applied to both of them, and Cooley as well.