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Tuesday, April 28: Golfing With Redskins

Posted by Matt Terl on April 28, 2009 – 3:41 pm

I stayed at Redskins Park for the Brian Orakpo press conference yesterday, so I missed the reported mobbing of Jason Campbell by the local media. It sounded like quite the scene, with Campbell surrounded and fielding endless questions in his characteristic classy manner, and his teammates staying rock solid in support of him. Kelli Johnson’s piece for Comcast SportsNet gives a good overview of that angle on things.

By the time I arrived at the Lowes Island Club golf course for the Jason Campbell Leukemia Golf Classic, the players had scattered across 36 holes of golf and were just generally having a good time hacking away at the ball and enjoying the warm weather.

As the name suggests, the tournament benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and from that standpoint yesterday was an unmitigated success. The event raised over $225,000 for the group, a marked jump from last year’s successful effort. Campbell, by all accounts, actually helps to plan the event, attending meetings and working with the group, not just lending his name.

There were two things worthy of special note yesterday.

One of them is vastly more important than the other, so that’s where I’ll start.The young man next to Jason Campbell in this picture is Sey-J — prounounced “C.J.” — Landsdowne, and he, not Campbell, was the guest of honor at the event.

Sey-J has been battling leukemia for the past three years, according to his father, Seymour. When it was first diagnosed, he underwent a battery of medical procedures — chemotherapy, radiation, all of that — and was fortunate enough to see his illness go into remission. He returned to school, to playing, to all the things that make a nine-year old happy.

Ten months later, it returned with a vengeance. Doctors gave Sey-J little chance to rally again. Again, the procedures — including a bone marrow transplant — followed this time by an experimental treatment arranged by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

“I don’t know your faith,” Seymour told me, “but what happened next I can only call an act of god.”

Sey-J recovered, returning home ahead of schedule. “They told him the list of things he had to do to be allowed home,” Seymour said, “being able to feed himself and other things like that. And he asked me to come in and work with him until he could do them. We weren’t expected to be able to go home until January at the earliest; we came home on December 22nd, in time for Christmas.”

Campbell had visited Sey-J at his home when he was ill, cementing his status as the kid’s favorite player, a status that he has happily worked to maintain — in the run-up to yesterday’s event JC took Sey-J mini-golfing.

One thing I’ve learned about events like this is that every time I start thinking it’s about the amusing stories and seeing the players out of their element, I meet someone like Sey-J who kills off my cynical opportunism for a bit.

That said, I spent the afternoon in a golf cart, riding along with Campbell’s girlfriend, Mercedes Lindsey, as she shot photos of the various groups on the course, so there was certainly plenty of opportunity to see the players out of their element as well.

Which brings me to the second, much less important, thing worthy of special note. Here’s Clinton Portis, golfing — or, as I like to call it, A Study In Plaids.

The most exciting part of Portis’s game is not his swing — “It’s all right,” he noted, although he seemed willing to take tips from the rest of his foursome — but his socks.

“I got ’em cheap from Wal-Mart,” he said.

Rock Cartwright is an avid golfer who found himself deeply frustrated that the team behind him — the eventual winners of that course — was stocked with a ringer: course pro Colleen Yaeger. “That’s just ridiculous,” he said, shaking his head.

Chris Cooley, meanwhile, demonstrated an ability to drive the heck out of the ball — something in the neighborhood of 350 yards the one time I was watching. When the rest of his foursome failed to make the most of the impressive opening drive in the scramble-style golf they were playing, Cooley suggested that the team take one final mulligan to earn an eagle on the hole. His partners were hesitant, and Cooley rolled his eyes. “You score that as an eagle or I’m going to punch you in the stomach,” he said. His partners ignored him and scored it as a birdie.

The scouting report on Chris Horton was pretty straightforward: great putting, not so much on the driving. But if you’re somehow up against the combination of Cooley’s drives and Horton’s putting, watch out.

In the end, it was a good day for Jason Campbell. His foursome — not the one with the golf pro — won their course, building on his first-place finish in Brian Mitchell’s tournament and third-place finish in Bruce Smith’s. His Redskins teammates showed up to his event and proclaimed their support to the media.

And when someone took the mic after the silent auction and made the claim that he had been responsible for the Jets trading up in Saturday’s NFL Draft to select Mark Sanchez just to guarantee that Campbell would be able to host this event again and into the future, the crowd went nuts and Campbell was able to just sit back with a genuine smile.

From one perspective, it doesn’t mean that much, but from another, it was a perfect way for the quarterback — after all these weeks of rumor and stress — to head into the weekend of the team’s first mini-camp.

A few more pictures, mostly courtesy of Mercedes Lindsey:

Randy Thomas negotiates a bunker as Derrick Dockery looks on.

Lorenzo Alexander gets a ride.

Colt Brennan in his golf whites.

Antwaan Randle El and Larry Michael run a live auction.

Ladell Betts and Fred Smoot kick back after a tough day of golf.

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