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Devin Thomas Makes Friends

Posted by Matt Terl on March 10, 2009 – 4:33 pm

I imagine that some of you are probably aware that I’ve started appearing regularly on Redskins Nation on Comcast SportsNet. Mostly I come on during the third segment of the show, sit next to Larry Michael, answer fan questions, and try not to imagine just how fidgety I probably look on TV. Within that incredibly limited framework, I like to think that I’m doing pretty well with it, and occasionally I come across something interesting to write about while watching them shoot the first two segments.

Case in point: Devin Thomas appears on the first segment of the show today, and — after talking about his offseason work, his predictions for next season, and other sundry offseason topics — mentioned almost casually that he was heading out to the Regal Cinema in Sterling, Virginia, to surprise a fan, David King, who had written him a letter.

Larry was predictably enthused about the situation — as was I — and sent a Redskins.com TV camera to film Devin meeting his fan. I elected to ride along as well.

“Yeah,” Thomas told me afterward, “A lot of my mail, I’ll just respond to, sign the cards they send or whatever, but there’s was something really sincere about this letter.”

Despite that, I have no idea what it was that caught Thomas’s attention about this particular piece of mail. Well, that’s not precisely accurate. From one perspective, it was a straightforward fan-to-athlete letter; I read it and found it very enthusiastic and polite, although not all that different from other player mail I’ve seen.

But the details did set it apart a bit.

King describes himself as “handicap” and “3 foot 10” with two kids, a “hot wife,” and an upcoming spinal decompression surgery. I suppose any one of those specifics might have stood out to Thomas. Maybe all of them; whenever I asked, he just alluded to the sense of “sincerity” the letter exuded. Whatever it was, as he explained his reaction to the letter, it was clear that it had struck some kind of chord.

After reading the letter, Thomas attempted to contact King at the phone number he had included, but was told that no one by that name was at that number. At this point, I would’ve decided that my correspondent was maybe not being 100% truthful with me and moved on with the rest of my day.

Not Devin Thomas. Thomas noticed that King had mentioned being employed at the theater in Sterling, so he called Regal and found out when King would be in — which turned out to be today.

So Thomas got together a bunch of stuff — his Showtime bracelets, some of his gear from a game, a couple of signed football cards — and set out to surprise King at work.

Since the Redskins.com TV folks and I were along for the ride, we went in first to ensure that King was there and that he was someplace where Thomas would be able to approach. And, to my complete and utter shock, he actually was there, just as he had described himself in his letter, and was every bit as excited to see Devin Thomas as he’d said he would be.


Thomas got King’s corrected phone number, and suggested — likely influenced by the enormous multiplex we were in — that the two might take in a movie some time. “Sure,” said King, visibly enthused, adding “I’ll even treat.” Thomas laughed.

King shook his head. “Things like this just don’t happen to a guy like me,” he said, and kept effusively thanking everyone around — Thomas, the Redskins.com TV people, me — even after we explained to him that it was all Thomas’s doing. King is suffering in the economic crisis like everyone else, and his situation is exacerbated by the fact that he’s in the middle of the protracted process of adopting a child from Albania. “I don’t even know what to say about this,” he said, “but it’s something good in a really tough time.”

(Tomorrow’s episode of Redskins Nation will have more on this outing, including some actual professional footage.)

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