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Fred Smoot Bowls With Tremendous Enthusiasm

Posted by Matt Terl on June 9, 2009 – 5:33 pm

Dan Steinberg at the DC Sports Bog has apparently been been working on a post about Fred Smoot’s professional bowling aspirations for a few days now, for reasons completely unrelated to today’s bowling excursion. In fact, the trip today forced him to finish it up and post it, and you should all go read it even if you’re already all Redskins-bowling-ed out. I’ll wait here.

The revelation that Smoot at least half-seriously wants to be a professional bowler is a good one, no doubt. (And, in fact, Smoot made the same confession to me today, only he was able to add at the end, “Dan Steinberg is gonna talk to the PBA and help make it happen.”)

All the stuff about Smoot’s high score and his thoughts on straight-ahead bowlers and everything else, that’s all good as well.

But, having seen Smoot bowl today, I can tell you that the lede in that post is somewhat buried. Here’s the part that’s actually the most significant:

“That boy’s crazy,” Rogers said. “He bowls, and he might just lay on the ground kicking his feet, do some of everything, while he’s bowling. From the time he let that ball go he might just lay on the ground, looking at his ball, rolled-up, kicking. That boy crazy. He do some of everything.”

This is an extremely accurate description of Smoot bowling, but it abjectly fails to convey the amount of energy that he brings to the exercise. So does the photo above, actually. That picture makes it look like Smoot is just relaxing at the top of the lane, gently hoping that the ball does what he hopes.

This is not the case.


The pictures below tell a little more of the story, although my camera wasn’t reacting quickly enough to pick up the whole routine, which goes something like this:

After releasing the ball, Smoot holds his pose, one leg in the air, arm extended down the lane, as the ball rolls.

Once the ball hits the pins, he turns around, jumps in the air, pounds his chest, and shouts something, usually more or less incomprehensible.

The he looks around for Carlos Rogers to shout some trash talk at him — “Come on down here and let me tell you how to strike!” for example — and gives emphatic high fives and fist pounds to whomever might be around.

Then he settles down a little bit and walks around letting people know how well he’s doing — “I don’t even wanna drink iced tea, in case it cools me off,” he’ll say, or something similar.

Those are the times when he doesn’t drop to the boards from his one-legged pose and start kicking, as Rogers suggested above. The whole routine is genuinely remarkable, but it also inspired perhaps the most overt moment of exactly the kind of team building Coach Zorn was envisioning.

Smoot, after hitting another strike and going through his whole elaborate routine, came back to the seating area, where offensive line coach Joe Bugel was waiting. “Smoot,” Bugel said, “you’re putting on a clinic, brother.”

“Yeah,” Smoot said, giving Bugel a fist pound, “but I ain’t bowling good.” An offensive coach and a defensive player coming together in the bowling alley, just like Coach Zorn had hoped

Then Smoot turned to me and said, “That’s the kinda energy I’d bring to the PBA!”

(A few more Smoot notes:

  • He had trainer John Burrell tape his pants up around his calves, which is why he appears to wearing manpris in the pictures.

  • He has his own bowling ball (and the shoes you see above), but didn’t have it with him, so he made his cousin drive it to the alley. When I asked why it wasn’t always with him — as Antwaan Randle El and Carlos Rogers’s bowling gear was — he seemed to become deeply offended at what I was implying. “Oh, it’s always with me,” he said, “but I drove my Chevy this morning and the balls are always in my truck.” Hence the cousin, saving the day.)
  • When I pointed out to Chris Cooley that Smoot was much, much more enthusiastic while bowling his game than Todd Collins was when he rolled his 205, Cooley shook his head. “Todd would be less lively bowling a 300 than Smoot would be bowling a 125,” he said.)

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