Waleed Zarou, owner of The Don’s Wood-Fired PIzza in Sterling, Va., had one major concern with letting Redskins players act as servers during his second annual Christmas Eve free pizza dinner: “They take too much space,” he said. “You see how tight it is. I was nervous with them being in the kitchen how the other guys were gonna move. It’s a tight space, [and] you got a 700, 800 degree oven going, man.”
The dinner — supposedly two hours of free pizzas for all, although Zarou was still handing them out when I left half an hour past the scheduled end time –is partially about fellowship, a place for people who don’t have anyone else to come on Christmas Eve, and partially about charity, raising money for a mission in Africa. This is the first year that the players have participated — “I thought these guys would help me to grow it,” Zarou said — and Kedric Golston, Derrick Dockery, Lorenzo Alexander, and Renaldo Wynn seemed to really be enjoying themselves.
“We’re very blessed people,” Golston said. “To be in the NFL — regardless of the record — we’re very blessed, and to be able to give back and help … I mean, you never know.”
Golston is friends with Zarou through his father-in-law, and was acting as the de facto manager of the restaurant-working Redskins. “It was hard to get Derrick from the pizza,” Golston said, explaining how the group divided their labors. “I didn’t wanna fight that battle, so I just left him there. And Lorenzo’s more of a calmer dude, so he just said he’ll get the drinks. Renaldo was actually the last guy to show up, so we was actually already operating when he came, and so he was kinda like the guy in the restaurant that went around talked to everyone.”
Watching Golston and Dockery handing out pizza like old pros — asking a firm “Cheese or pepperoni?” like they’d been doing it forever — was entertaining, but not as entertaining as watching them eat seeming one slice for every one they handed out.
Golston was indignant at the suggestion that he had eaten as many slices as he served — “I mean, of course I served more,” he said — and insistent that Dockery had, in fact, out-eaten him.
“It had to be Derrick,” he said. “I probably ate three, four pieces.” Then he shouted the question over to Dockery of how many slices he had eaten.
“‘Bout five,” Dockery said with a shrug.
“Bout six or seven,” Golston corrected. “I’m not lyin’, I’m just bein’ honest. If you said five, it’s gotta be seven or eight.”
Zarou had been informed about the eating/serving ratio as well. “Someone came up to me and said, ‘Hey, man, these guys are eatin’ more pizza than they’re serving,'” he said, laughing explosively and entirely unconcerned. “They’re earning their keep.”
In fact, Zarou sounded willing to give the guys anything they wanted, and was just grateful that they had shown up. “These guys got families, they got kids, this is Christmas Eve night for them,” he said, “and I’m not paying them. They’re volunteering, giving their time to the community.”
Golston shrugged off the praise. “I think the guys in here,” he said, “we’re all men of faith” just doing what they believe Christmas should actually be all about, and using their fame to help spread the word. “You know, it’s easy to get people with Redskins and food, and hopefully they heard something today that would change their life.”
Golston added, “I mean, really, this is a day that people wanna try to give back, but that’s really the motto I think we should all take every day. Try to, you know, no matter what it is, whether it’s your time, energy or anything, just try to help people out.”
(Which is not to say he was completely unaware of the materialistic part of Christmas. When I mentioned the defensive backs’ secret Santa, Golston laughed. “I saw Reed Doughty comin’ down the stairs with a Gucci bag. I said, ‘He must’ve bought his wife a purse for Christmas.’ And so I guess Smoot had Reed, and so Reed pulls ‘em out and, like, ‘Man, look at these!’ He says, ‘Man, I needed some brown shoes!’ That was his thing. He’s got probably a pair of seven hundred dollar shoes Smoot bought ‘im, and he’s like ‘Yeah, I needed some brown ones.’ He could care less what they were.”)
All photos except the last courtesy of Rebirth Studios; last photo courtesy Shawnita Marshall and Mozelle Meyers. Donations benfited the Africa outreach efforts of Calvary Temple. Oh, and the pizza was excellent.
Tags: charity, christmas, Derrick Dockery, DerrickDockery, Kedric Golston, KedricGolston, Lorenzo Alexander, LorenzoAlexander, Renaldo Wynn, RenaldoWynn, washington redskins, WashingtonRedskins
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