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Basketball Creates Bitter Rivalry Between Ethan Albright And Devin Thomas

Posted by Matt Terl on April 6, 2009 – 4:20 pm

It would be hard to imagine two more disparate guys than Ethan Albright and Devin Thomas.

Albright is currently the oldest guy on the Redskins roster; Thomas is 45 days shy of being the youngest. Albright came into the league as an undrafted free agent back in 1994 with Miami, and came to the Redskins as a free agent; Thomas was the Redskins’ first player taken in last year’s NFL Draft.

Albright is quiet and workmanlike, best known for doing his job efficiently, consistently, and without error; Thomas is brash, vocal, and has yet to prove himself at his position. Albright is from outside of Greensboro, North Carolina, a city that has been inducted into the Clean Cities Hall of Fame; Thomas is from the suburbs of Detroit (albeit a couple of the nicer ones, which sort of spoils the comparison).

Albright’s nickname is “The Red Snapper,” while Thomas goes by “The Turquoise Leopard.” (That last one might not be true, actually.)

But they’ve got at least one thing in common: both are fiercely loyal to their respective colleges, Albright to North Carolina and Thomas to Michigan State. So as those two teams get set to square off in tonight’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship game, Albright and Thomas are getting into it face to face.

Or they would be, if they ever saw each other. Because another way that these two are different is in their workout schedules. Albright prefers the earliest possible session, and is often showered and gone from the facility before Thomas even arrives.

When I caught up with Albright today — again decked out in his non-Tyler-Hansbrough jersey, now with added Tar Heels cap — he was actually waiting to see if Thomas would show up so he could talk a little trash to him. “I’ve been around here every day for two weeks looking for him, and I can’t find him anywhere,” he told me.


By the time I found Thomas — hours later — the two had apparently had a chance to chat, at least briefly.

“We got a little side bet,” he told me. “I’m not gonna speak on it right now … but he’s gonna have to wear some green when we win.”

One way or the other, I’ll have pictures tomorrow.

(During the ellipsis in that quote, Thomas caught a Colt Brennan pass that buzzed past literally inches away from me. I didn’t even notice it coming, and was standing between Thomas and the QB; he caught it, reacting as if he had been expecting the pass all along. You can see it in the video below, but you don’t really get the faintly terrifying sensation of that ball cutting through the air.)


For me, I’m torn on how to root for this one. My bracket is a smoldering ruin (I picked Pitt to win it all), so that’s no help. I tend to think that UNC is the better team, but hate pulling for them.

At least this side bet gives me something to look forward to no matter what happens, and I shudder to think how bored I would be by this final if Louisville had advanced, since no one on the Redskins roster is a former Cardinal.

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