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Redskins Sign O.J. Atogwe, Comic Book Fan

Posted by Matt Terl on March 3, 2011 – 5:18 pm

The Redskins announced today that they have signed safety O.J. Atogwe. It’s a move that has a lot of promise from a football standpoint; if nothing else, it adds an experienced competitor to the mix at the free safety spot. But perhaps the most interesting thing about Atogwe from a bloggy standpoint is that he’s a longtime comic book reader who has an entire room devoted to his collection.

The picture above is a screencap from a Fox Sports Midwest piece on Atogwe that plays like the geekiest version of MTV’s Cribs ever. “I’m gonna show y’all something a LITTLE special,” Atogwe says, in the familiar vernacular of those shows. Only instead of a room with a tungsten stripper pole, or a chess set with lifesize pieces carved from solid oak, or fishtanks made out of diamond and filled with eels, it’s his “famous, infamous reading room, where I have all of my collectibles. My wonderful action figures which I’ve had for a long time, and my tremendous collection of comic books.”

And he’s not just one of those people who buys the books to keep ’em in bags and boards. The room also features a “special reading chair” — a Human Touch Zero Gravity Massage Chair that Atogwe says he spends 30-40 minutes in every day, reading. Former Redskins linebacker Marcus Washington — another hugely popular free agent signing — used to walk around the facility in a Punisher T-shirt, but this appears to be of another order of magnitude entirely. (And there’s plenty more in the video.)

So: a signing that addresses a need, is met with overwhelming approval from the masses (at least based on my Twitter @ replies), AND seems like a quirky, bloggable guy? I can handle that.

(If you’re looking for the more nust-and-bolts-y take on the signing, Gary Fitzgerald has you covered at Redskins.com.)

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Combine Interview Stories And Other Links

Posted by Matt Terl on March 3, 2011 – 4:00 pm

Prospects at the NFL Combine know that they’re going to be judged by large groups of people. Much of what we see is the judging of their physical performance — that’s what the nice folks in the picture above are doing — but the judging of their interview skills is, possibly, even more important. And it often yields some amusing stories.

Here’s one from an AFC team this year, as told by the Free Lance-Star’s Rich Campbell:

The player was in a room speaking to coaches, executives and scouts when he was asked: “What do you expect to run the 40 in?”

It’s an innocuous question, especially compared to some that are lobbed during these sessions. The team simply wanted to know a specific time to expect.

The player answered: “Either spikes or tennis shoes.”

Easy mistake to make, I’m sure. Here’s part of an older one, as told by ex-Redskins safety Matt Bowen on National Football Post:

Let me set it up. I walk into the suite of a team (which will remain unknown) and there is a priest sitting in one of the chairs. I play it off like this is something I am accustomed to seeing outside of Sunday Mass and sit down.

And then the guy in the collar starts firing off questions.

Maybe this team knew I was Catholic or maybe the guy wasn’t even a priest (I thought it might be a quality control coach dressed up). Regardless, I start to panic a little. My answers are choppy and I feel like I am sitting in a confession booth. I start sweating and I can feel my heart pounding in my chest.

Should I tell him about the crap I pulled as a sixth grader in Catholic school? Do I spill my guts here? I can’t lie, right? This all starts to enter my mind and I find myself having a hard time keeping up with this priest who is asking me about my religion, my faith, etc.

I am failing this interview.

Worth clicking through to read the rest of that one. (SUMMARY: Bowen was not drafted by the team with the priest in the interview room.)

But my favorite illustration of the Combine interview process comes from someone who’s not even a player. Mike Duffy — the top-notch guy at BaltimoreRavens.com — got some of the Ravens front office staff to run him through a mock Combine interview. And even though everyone involved knows that nothing’s really at stake, it’s gripping, tense stuff. Made me, at least, really appreciate just how crazy those interview sessions must be when your entire future is on the line. Well worth watching.

Some other (more Redskins-related) links…..

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Notes From The Combine: A Reclamation Project

Posted by Matt Terl on March 3, 2011 – 10:50 am

Redskins Blog NFL Combine correspondent Jordan Beane brought home a few more notes and conversations from the Combine, about some of the things you don’t always get to see. This is one such piece. Beane?

There are many things that are outstanding about the Combine, but the food at Lucas Oil Field is not one of them.

Overpriced hot dogs, sketchy looking hamburgers, lukewarm drinks – the spread is disappointing. Instead the assembled journalists have to subside on a never-ending buffet of interviews, with the players paraded out every few minutes to be picked apart by members of the media. While many of the bigger names go up to a podium to speak, the rest of the guys end up at tables where a small huddle of reporters peppers them with questions.

With around 300 Combine invitees, even the most hardened draftnik (other than Mel Kiper) would have trouble knowing who everyone is, so my thought was to sit down and take in a random interview with a player I didn’t know. As my subject, a tight end from South Carolina, sat down I looked forward to a heartwarming story of a player who had taken every opportunity to become the best college football player he could be, was honored by his responsibility as an NCAA athlete, upheld its virtues, and was hoping for a shot in the NFL.

When the reporter sitting next to me took the opportunity to ask the first question, it became clear that this wasn’t going to be that type of interview.

“What was this year like for you, with all the being out and all the controversy and everything?” Read more »

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