There was a long stretch between my interview for this job and the call offering me the job, and during that stretch I was more or less useless for anything else. This wasn’t just the usual job hunt stress, either. As you can imagine, I understood very clearly that I was interviewing for a dream job, and the pressure of waiting to hear the results was correspondingly magnified.
And that was just after an interview. It was not after weeks and weeks of minicamp and training camp and preseason games, with my every move being scrutinized by an enormous pack of cameras and voice recorders, and with each and every shortcoming endlessly discussed on talk radio. If that had been the situation, I’d probably have just curled into a ball and hidden somewhere until it was over one way or the other.
Some of they young Redskins now find themselves in exactly that situation, and instead of going into the fetal position, they decided to go shopping at Target with at-risk low-to-moderate income kids.
Lorenzo Alexander — not on the bubble — organized the event through his Lorenzo Alexander ACES Foundation along with the Redskins Charitable Foundation and Leesburg’s Recreation Outreach to Community Kids. The event brought forty kids to a Target in Alexandria, grouped them with Redskins players, and provided them each with a hundred dollars to spend on school supplies and clothes for the new school year.
“When I came here in 2006,” Alexander said, “Renaldo [Wynn] was doing the same event, but doing it at Christmas time. I really liked the way he put it on, the impact it had for the kids. I wanted to do something similar so I started to do this back-to-school event.”
Plenty of the players in attendance could feel secure in their roster spots: Antwaan Randle El, for example, as well as Chris Wilson, Kedric Golston, and Derrick Dockery.
But defensive end Alex Buzbee, defensive tackle Antonio Dixon, and linebacker Darrel Young have no such guarantees. Dixon and Young attend the event in Charitable Foundation golf shirts, because they haven’t been issued appearance jerseys. “Nah, not yet,” Young said, “They treat rookies like rookies.”
Dixon and Young had their cell phones with them; Buzbee had left his in the car. None of them wanted to hear the phone ring — the team calls to tell you you’ve been released, not that you’ve still got a spot.
“I feel like I competed,” Young said, shrugging. “Everyone makes mistakes and there’s a lot of room for improvement in every aspect, but I felt like I went out and competed and definitely made the coaches’ decision a little bit harder.”
Making the tackle on the opening kickoff last night certainly didn’t hurt. “Yeah, I just ran down there and saw the guy and thought, you know, ‘That’s my play to make.’”
Dixon acknowledged the weirdness of the whole situation. “Yeah, it’s awkward a little bit,” he said. “One thing about me, I don’t worry a lot. It’s cool. I’m just waiting for them to say something. I’m nervous a little bit.”
In fact, that little bit of nervousness was one of the main reasons he attended the event. “I wasn’t doing nothin’ today,” he told me, “so when Lorenzo asked, I said ‘Sure, I’m not doin’ nothin’ today, I’m just gonna be waitin’ on that call tellin’ me what it’s gonna be.’”
Buzbee is a regular contributor at Charitable Foundation events, so this was a natural way to ease a potentially difficult day. “It helps keep your mind off of stuff,” he said. “Go out help the kids and relax and just enjoy it. I’m just ready for today to be over and tomorrow to be over so I can know.”
Chris Wilson was optimistic that maybe contributing to an event like this one would actually help put the rest of it into perspective. “You know,” he said reflectively, “it’s really not in their hands; they did what they can do. I mean, maybe doing this will just kinda help ‘em, you know, remember being a kid and maybe help ‘em just be thankful for the opportunity, win or lose.”
Randle El agreed. “It just helps them mentally, helps them keep feeling positive no matter what happens. I think it helps just to kind of be upbeat a little bit.”
For Young, at least, it seemed to be working. Mostly.
“I’m just trying to give back to the community,” he said. “You see the guys doing all these fundraisers and stuff on TV and I always wanted to be a part of it, and then you’ve got guys like ‘Zo who wanna reach out and help people, just do things that benefit the community. I’m just trying to help however I can — and trying not to hear that phone ring.”
Tags: Antonio Dixon, AntonioDixon, charitable foundation, CharitableFoundation, Chris Wilson, ChrisWilson, Darrel Young, DarrelYoung, Lorenzo Alexander, LorenzoAlexander, washington redskins, WashingtonRedskins
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