When Rocky McIntosh invited me to go paintballing with him and his friends on Saturday, a few thoughts went through my mind.
First, I wondered how good an idea this was. There’s a brief history of Redskins and paintball, and between Redskins players being badly outnumbered in a charity tournament and the team’s 2007 first round pick missing minicamp with a paintball injury to the groin, not much of it can be considered very good.
Second, I found myself wondering exactly why Rocky McIntosh — who has become a regular on this blog for his holiday antics, his office antics, and his refusal to give Intern Bridgette a straight answer to basic interview questions– was described to me as a non-talker. Really.
When I first started working here, different people would offer advice for what to expect from the various players and coaches. Not much of that advice was consistent from one person to the next, but the one thing everyone agreed on was that McIntosh was a quiet guy who really kept to himself. This opinion seemed to be borne out when McIntosh went so far as to disguise himself as Khary Campbell in an attempt to avoid the media, so this outgoing version of Rocky McIntosh is continually surprising.
And third, I wondered what I was supposed to do with the 25 pound weight vest he had handed me.
What I did NOT wonder, although as it turns out I maybe should have, were who his friends were. If you had asked me at the time, I’d have said that I assumed it was Rocky’s peers — presumably not other players, otherwise he would’ve mentioned it, but friends of about his age, background, and so on.
I can safely say that I wouldn’t have come up with the actual answer:
A fourteenth birthday party.
That’s Rocky in the back; you can see me next to him, peering over the head of the teenager in front of me.
Aaron Kim, the birthday boy, is standing in front of Rocky; he and his family have become friends with Rocky and his family over the years. They babysit for one another, share dinners, and occasionally go to church together; Rocky also shops for much of his jewelry at their store. So him showing up at Pev’s Paintball for Aaron’s birthday party wasn’t nearly as strange as it might seem on the surface.
Him showing up wearing a boonie hat, with his face painted, wearing a vest adorned with a fake knife, fake dogtags, small flashlight, and plastic cellphone (“It’s my sat-phone,” he told me) … that was a little stranger.
At this point, though, it’s just Rocky being Rocky.
The kids picked teams, and Rocky was selected first overall; as I waited to see where I would be taken, I realized that the feeling of waiting to be picked never, ever changes, no matter how old you get. Much to my surprise, I was picked well before last, to be teammates with Rocky and the birthday boy.
The downside of this is that I have no amusing stories of Rocky shooting at me. On the upside, I can tell you that everyone else took tremendous pleasure in shooting him. Even after he was eliminated from a round, the kids would pop out just to take a few shots at him as he walked off the field — the back of his jacket and pants were continually covered with paint from shots fired as he departed.
As for me, I was used as target practice for just about everyone with a paintball gun. One of the boys’ fathers, a more experienced paintballer, offered me two pieces of advice before we started: don’t get hit in the throat, and don’t get hit in the exposed hands.
I lasted through one game following this advice, getting eliminated by a videogame-perfect headshot. (For those of you desperately interested, the photo evidence is here.) After that, though, it was direct hit to the finger — drawing blood and raising a welt that still hasn’t settled down — followed in rapid sequnce by direct hit to the throat and multiple hits to the legs, all of which caused bruising.
So for those of you wondering if maybe Rocky’s size made him a bigger target in paintball and negated any advantages his athletic abilities might have given him, I can confidently and painfully say that you’re wrong. My abject lack of athletic ability caused me to get shot much more than Rocky’s size did him.
We made it through with no terrifying injuries, and McIntosh was at Redskins Park today continuing his offseason conditioning without pause. The birthday boy seemed thrilled to have had him there, and assured me that he would still have picked McIntosh first even if he had all to do over again, and the rest of the guests were continually impressed at McIntosh’s enthusiasm for the game — his full-out dive into a hut during a game of capture the flag earmed particularly rave from the assembled teenage boys.
That said, here’s some video evidence of Rocky getting himself eliminated at exceedingly close range by some much smaller competition.
Many thanks to the Kim family for inviting me along to their celebration, and, especially, a happy fourteenth birthday to Aaron.
Tags: Offseason, rocky mcintosh, RockyMcintosh
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