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The Third Annual All-Star Survivors Luncheon At Redskins Park

Posted by Matt Terl on October 5, 2010 – 2:01 pm

Today marks the third annual All-Star Survivors luncheon at Redskins Park, an event at which women currently battling breast cancer are celebrated by Redskins players, coaches, and wives; given a chance to support one another; and pampered with a selection of products chosen to make some of the less obvious aspects of their battle a little bit more pleasant.

It’s Roxi McNabb’s first such luncheon, of course, but it’s not a type of event that’s unfamiliar to her. “I think you’ll find within the NFL that you have a lot of people within organizations who do have stories,” McNabb says, “and who do want to reach out to people and help, so I think that from that perspective it’s commonplace.”

The Redskins event is hosted by two couples who do, as McNabb suggests, have stories: Emma and Derrick Dockery and Christy and Chris Cooley. Emma Dockery lost her mother to cancer four years ago, and Chris Cooley’s mother Nancy is a survivor of breast cancer. It was Nancy Cooley’s battle that inspired the first incarnation of this event two years ago.

“I remember her coming over to my house, and her hair had started falling out enough that you could notice,” Cooley explained today. “And she asked me if I would buzz her hair. And that was really — I mean, it was emotional. After that and chemo, her appearance drastically started to change. And it’s hard because her spirit’s still there and she was fighting, but you look at yourself in the mirror and you look sick.

“So I got together with the Redskins Charitable Foundation and put together an event that we could do,” Cooley continued, “and I kinda just thought about some of the things that my mom was going through. She needed a wig, or at least the opportunity to look at different wigs; obviously makeup, and jeans, and stuff like that.”

The inspiration was the cosmetic aspect, but, Cooley says, it turned into even more. “I donated money to buy all the stuff, and all these ladies came and I think more than them getting the different items, what was special was that they got to spend all that time together. I think that they really enjoyed it.”

Emma Dockery saw much the same thing after becoming involved with the event last year. “I think we found last year that, when we talked to the women after the fact, the biggest thing they felt was the love and the support,” she says. “And I think that aside from all the things that you get, there’s nothing like the human interaction.”
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The Offensive Line Gets In Some Post-Practice Reps

Posted by Matt Terl on August 18, 2010 – 6:20 pm

A whole bunch of offensive linemen stayed behind today after practice,doing technique work and some individual drills. The group included all five presumed offensive line starters, as well as Chad Rinehart, Edwin Williams, and coaching intern Chris Samuels.

“We do that after every practice,” Derrick Dockery told me, “not just today. We have to, you know, lead this group. If we don’t do our job up front, we’re gonna have a tough season this year. We have to bounce back from the terrible season we had last year, giving up almost 50 sacks. We have to do better this year.”

So one of the ways they thought they might be able to achieve that was by deciding — “collectively, as a group,” Dockery says — to do extra technique work as often as possible.

“At the end of the day,” Casey Rabach said, “it’s always good to end on a little technique.”

Artis Hicks agreed. “It helps out a lot,” he said. “Any extra you can do definitely pays off in the end, and when you’re out there it’s kinda hard to pay attention to a lot of the fundamentals. Things are moving at 100 miles per hour, and you’ve got big guys in front of you. But when practice is over, you can stay out, take an extra few sets, and really kinda work on your craft a little bit.”

Which is good to hear, especially (as Dockery notes) after some of the performances last season. And, really, I figured that was the whole story — after a spirited practice, the offensive line made a point to get some extra work in. Everyone is happy. Hooray.

Then Hicks decided to explain Edwin Williams’s main role in the technique sessions, and that was clearly something that needed to be mentioned as well. Read more »

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Lorenzo Alexander And Friends Help Kids Get Ready For School

Posted by Matt Terl on July 20, 2010 – 3:52 pm

With just over a week until training camp starts up, Redskins linebacker Lorenzo Alexander spent the day pretty much exactly as you’d expect: hanging out in Target, buying school supplies with a few of his teammates

The reason for the outing was the second annual Big Play Back-To-School Giveaway, hosted by Alexander’s ACES Foundation with support from the Redskins Charitable Foundation and Target. Roughly sixty kids from local non-profit organizations were brought to Target, where they were able to shop with a Redskins player for their school supplies.

“I’m a big education guy,” Alexander explained, “and like [in] football you need your shoulder pads and helmet, you definitely need pencils and papers and notebooks to be successful in school. Growing up I saw a lot of kids come to school without that, and it probably hurt them in the long run as far as getting good grades. So I just wanna provide kids with the necessary equipment so they can be good in school.” Read more »

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Chris Foerster's Approach To Coaching

Posted by Matt Terl on June 3, 2010 – 12:51 pm

New offensive line coach Chris Foerster is a very different kind of coach from his predecessor, Joe Bugel, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

It seems unfair to Foerster to mention them both in the lede, in fact, but it’s a comparison he’s been facing literally since he arrived at Redskins Park. Bugel is a legend in D.C., and the Redskins have perhaps the strongest tradition of rooting for their offensive line of any team in the NFL.

Following a legend is a difficult task, to say the least, so maybe it’s best that Foerster takes such a different approach. Bugel was a yeller, a curser, an old-school guy who called violence his turn-on and wanted things done his way all the time, every time. Foerster characterizes his own coaching style in just SLIGHTLY different terms.

“I’m a teacher first,” he says. “I’m gonna teach the guys how to play the position. I’m gonna give them what they need. I’m very much about meeting each guy where he is individually. I’m gonna try as best I can to get to know each guy, try as best I can to find out what makes him tick, where their strengths and weaknesses are, and I believe in developing a foundation and relationship with the player and trying to reach them where they are.”

He continues, “More than anything, I want to develop a trust with my players. A trust that they can believe what I tell ’em, and that what I have to say will give them a chance to succeed. And hopefully in that process, I can get them to maximize their abilities, and in that we can have a good offensive line, a good offense, and win some games.”

Now, you never know if a guy’s actual coaching style (or teaching style or managing style, for that matter) actually comes across the way he thinks it does. So I asked a few of Foerster’s players about his style, especially where it contrasted with Bugel’s. The answers were … consistent, to say the least, often down to word choice.

Here, look:
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Friday, January 22: Mike Williams Discusses His College Teammate (And Offensive Coordinator)

Posted by Matt Terl on January 22, 2010 – 1:23 pm

I haven’t been able to dig up a picture of offensive lineman Mike Williams and new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan together during their playing days at Texas. I’ve done the internet searches, I’ve called the Texas media relations department, and so far no luck, which is a bummer. The picture above — the 2002 class of outgoing Longhorns — was unearthed by poster Pez over at ExtremeSkins, and gives a bit of the same vibe: that’s Derrick Dockery, fourth from the left in the top row, while Shanahan is second from the left in the middle.

Maybe it’s appropriate that I couldn’t find a picture of Williams and Shanahan, though, because Williams seemed singularly unfazed at the idea of being coached by a former college teammate. “He was like any other teammate,” Williams said, describing the architect of the Houston Texans league-leading passing game, “cool, gets along well.”

Williams — who has already begun his offseason workouts — was actually pretty insistent that there was nothing unusual about this situation.
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Joe Bugel: Passion, Loyalty, Friendship, and Cursing

Posted by Matt Terl on January 13, 2010 – 2:45 pm


Usually when I post these press conferences, it’s not because I think it was such a fascinating experience that it deserves rewatching. I think of it as … as a Redskins community service, for lack of a better phrase. A chance for people who don’t trust transcribed quotes or excerpts to see how it actually went down.

That’s not the case with this one. Joe Bugel’s retirement presser was something to behold, a football lifer speaking from the heart without notes or a microphone, and it was a legitimately riveting spectacle.

“I think I’m ready to block for Joe Bugel,” the Washington Post’s Rick Maese tweeted after about ten minutes of Bugel’s speech, to general agreement.

Rich Campbell of the Free Lance-Star was even more blunt: “Listening to Bugel right now is as close as we’ll get to hearing an NFL locker room speech first hand.”

Even Bugel’s players agreed. Sort of.
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Redskins Work In A Pizza Place For Christmas

Posted by Matt Terl on December 25, 2009 – 3:46 pm

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.
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The Revamped Offensive Line Is Cautiously Optimistic

Posted by Matt Terl on October 14, 2009 – 11:26 am

If I had to characterize the mood of the locker room today — and I did, actually, when we were taping Redskins Nation for Comcast SportsNet — I’d call it “frustrated.” Not with each other, per se, and not with the coaches. Not with the media, either (Mike Sellers‘s mildly amusing quote notwithstanding).

They just seem frustrated with not winning. This is a team that is firmly convinced — rightly or not — that they’re underperforming and failing to execute. Read more »

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All-Star Survivors Luncheon Has Really Grown Since Last Year

Posted by Matt Terl on September 29, 2009 – 4:01 pm

Last year, Chris Cooley organized a little event at Redskins Park on one of his Tuesdays off that turned into one of the best charitable events I attended all year, treating a group of breast cancer survivors to lunch, a tour of Redskins Park, and makeup kits, wigs, headscarves, jeans, and gift bags.

This year, that little event got just a bit bigger. Instead of being just Cooley, the thirty women this year were hosted by Cooley and his wife Christy, Derrick Dockery and his wife Emma, Daniel Snyder’s wife Tanya, and the wives of many other players and coaches. Read more »

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Tuesday, August 11: Lendy Holmes Sports A Dallas Haircut

Posted by Matt Terl on August 11, 2009 – 8:25 am

Here’s what safeties coach Steve Jackson had to say about undrafted rookie safety Lendy Holmes when I talked to him back in May:

“He’s very promising. Athletic guy. You wanna talk about ball skills, he’s got excellent ball skills, and he’s smart. It’s gonna be good to see what he can do once we get the pads on, because everybody looks good in shorts. It’s a talent show.

“But you wanna see the toughness and how a guy’s gonna react when it’s a hundred degrees outside and you’ve got guys who are bigger than you and faster than you that wanna knock you down, AND you’ve gotta remember your plays, AND you’ve gotta get out of there in one piece”

And here’s what a bunch of other people around Redskins Park had to say about undrafted rookie safety Lendy Holmes over the last month or so: “What’s up with his hair?”

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