Sure, it’s been nice to turn on the TV and see the footage of John Beck winging the ball to Leonard Hankerson during these players-only workouts, but this is on a whole different level. Here’s the backstory: wide receiver Anthony Armstrong told ESPN980 beat reporter Chris Russell that he’d donate a thousand dollars to charity if Russell could run the 40-yard-dash in under ten seconds.
That was in December. Most of these hyperbolic charity wagers fade into nothingness (I’m still waiting for Armstrong and Brandon Banks to race Chad Ochocinco), but Armstrong didn’t forget this one.
“We kept kinda going back and forth, but we never found the right time to do it amidst everything going on,” Russell explained. “He kept bringing it back up this week, when we were out at the practice fields [at the undisclosed location hosting players-only workouts]; finally today, the players kept egging me on.”
Ironically. Armstrong wasn’t even present when Russell finally caved to the peer pressure. “Armstrong leaves, and then we’re sitting there on the bench with Leonard Hankerson and Kedric Golston and they just kept BEGGING me to do it,” Russell said, “and asking me to do it, and begging me to do it. I said I couldn’t trust them that they would get an accurate time without [messing] with me, but Hankerson agreed to get an honest time. So he timed it on his watch and others videotaped it, and I ran the 40-yard dash in 8.2 seconds according to Leonard Hankerson.”
You can see a snippet of exactly that above. My main disappointment was that Russell didn’t wear his trademark sportcoat for the run, and I told him so.
“No. I did not wear a sport jacket,” Russell said, sighing, “although I need to point out that — even though I’ve lost 67-and-a-half pounds — I was not wearing the proper shorts. I was not wearing athletic gym shorts, nor was I wearing cleats or any kind of sneakers. I was wearing actual dress shoes — sport walking shoes, I guess is what you’d call them. But they certainly are not sneakers, so I didn’t have the ability to dig in to the synthetic grass turf at the practice field. So I COULD get under 7.5 seconds if I had the proper equipment, the proper training, and the proper notice.”
That may be the next challenge — Russell and Armstrong haven’t really discussed it, although there was a Twitter suggestion of the 300 yard shuttle.
It’s easy to poke gentle fun at this, but it’s something that Russell is quite deservedly proud of. As he mentioned, he’s lost a good bit of weight on Medifast, and there’s no guarantee that he would’ve been successful at this if he hadn’t. “I’m confident that I would’ve been able to,” Russell said, “but obviously the numbers stand for themselves. I probably would’ve been in the mid-nines.”
Either way, Russell quite justifiably sees this as a notable accomplishment. “I’m proud of myself,” Russell said. “I’m proud of my effort, I’m proud of my training, I’m proud of the sacrifices that I made for the entertainment of the Washington D.C. Redskins media and for guys like Anthony Armstrong, rookie Leonard Hankerson, quarterback John Beck, Kedric Golston, Chris Wilson, and others that were there to witness it, videotape it, and get a good laugh out of it. And it’s all for a good cause.”
Three good causes, actually: “We haven’t decided that, exactly, where the full 1,000 will go. But obviously we’re gonna give a part of it to Lorenzo Alexander’s ACES Foundation, and John Beck has put in a claim for some of it for his charitable organization. And then my wife has a Down syndrome family support group that we launched in Fredericksburg, Virginia (Down Syndrome Association of Fredericksburg) so I’ll probably give a portion of the proceeds to our own charitable organization.”
Before we got off the phone, Russell did have one other thing he wanted to be sure to add. “Tell Mike Shanahan, if he needs some help with the zone blocking on the offensive line, by, say, mid-season, I should be down in the sixes.”
So that’s someone else to add to your offensive line projections, I guess.
All glibness aside, congratulations to Russell. Nice work, and, indeed, for three excellent causes.
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