While the TV news copters were hovering over Dulles waiting for Donovan McNabb to arrive, ‘Eagle has landed’ puns at the ready and camera crews camped out at the doors of Redskins Park, life actually went on. As President Obama threw out the first pitch in front of thousands of Phillies fans at Nationals Park, a whole bunch of the Redskins were running football drills in his backyard.
The players were there participating in a Play 60 event at the White House Easter Egg Roll, part of the NFL’s program to combat youth obesity. Different players rotated in throughout the day, but media access was tightly controlled. When I was there, it was offensive linemen Edwin Williams and Will Robinson, and safety Reed Doughty arrived just before I was required to leave.
Williams is a local guy, as I’ve mentioned countless times before, and played his high school ball at DeMatha, just a twenty minute drive (in the traffic-free roads of my imagination) from the White House, but this was his first visit to the Presidential residence.
And he was typically enthusiastic about the outing. “This is awesome, right? I mean: the White House! It’s crazy,” he said, “I’ve never been here before. I haven’t been to an Easter Egg Roll. It’s really big — it’s really hard to find parking.”
He continued, “Growing up I didn’t do a lot of sight-seeing. I did some, obviously, but I didn’t really get a chance to be right here, monument there, White House right here. I got here about an hour before I was supposed to and got a chance just to walk around.”
Being a football player and volunteering at the event didn’t let him actually meet the President, though. “No, they just gave me the wristband and said ‘Get to work,’ which I’m doing, and it’s good.” He craned his neck to peer at the vacant stage just down the hill toward the Washington Monument from his post and added, “I told ’em though, when Justin Bieber comes on, I’m out. Gotta check him out. “
Williams may not have gotten a chance to meet the elder Obama, and he ultimately wouldn’t get to meet teen sensation Bieber, either. But — before my access period started — he and linebacker Lorenzo Alexander did get a chance to meet two teen idols of a different sort: Presidential daughters Malia and Sasha Obama.
“I got a chance to direct both of them in our drill,” Alexander said. “It was a pretty interesting and unique experience I hadn’t had a chance to do, and we had some fun with it. They’re actually pretty athletic little girls; I was pretty impressed.”
Alexander has a lot of interesting friends, but even he was a little bit amazed to meet the first family. “It’s cool when you think about it,” he said. “Who gets that close to the president’s daughters, gets to talk to ’em and interact? But they’re regular kids. Had their friends out there. Very well raised, no attitudes, very respectful and I enjoyed it.”
Williams was impressed with the speed of younger daugher Sasha — “She did great,” he noted, “went straight to the bag, no problem. She can make the transition to the 3-4 easily. No problem.” — and Alexander, who has played something like twenty different positions on the Redskins, offered his scouting report on how both girls project to the gridiron.
“The oldest daughter’s pretty tall,” Alexander said, “so she’d probably be a receiver. The younger one, she’s athletic so she can probably play several different positions.”
Unlike Williams, Alexander grew up an entire country away from the White House, but being on the grounds inspired the same reaction. “The older I get, the more I appreciate it. When I first got here, I really kinda took it for granted. Like when I lived in California by the ocean — most people haven’t seen the ocean, but I didn’t care [about it] because I’m right there. Now I’m in D.C. and the older get, I’m really appreciating the chance to get down there and see people.”
And both guys were emphatic about the message of the Play 60 program as well. “It’s important to reinforce the value of physical education,” Williams said. “I love doing events like this, because when I was a kid, I was always about the ice cream truck and not really working out a lot, so I think this message is great.”
The first daughters were there before I my access time, and photographing them was apparently somewhat restricted anyhow. So here’s a picture of the drill featuring neither of the daughters nor either of the players who escorted them. Close enough.
Tags: Edwin Williams, Lorenzo Alexander, obama, obama daughters, play 60, redskins charitable foundation
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