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Fast Facts About Hip-Hop Star Wale And The Redskins

Posted by Matt Terl on December 2, 2009 – 4:06 pm

In the press boxes at certain away games, I’ve noticed, the teams manage to include some kind of local food. Sometimes this is major — crabcakes at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore; cornbread and collards at Bank of America stadium in Charlotte — and sometimes it’s just something small, like Tastykakes in Philadelphia.

I half-jokingly asked on Twitter the other day what the Redskins could offer at FedExField that would be comparable, because those little touches really make the press box experience interesting. I like the sense of locality, of pride in a place, that they indicate.

Well, despite some interesting Twitter responses, the team is not currently making any changes to the press box food, but they have found another way to localize the game experience, at least for one game: at the home game against the Cowboys on Sunday, December 27, Wale will be performing at halftime.

Wale may not be a household name for everyone just yet — here’s Rick Snider of the D.C. Examiner giving the ultimate old-guy response to the news — but he’s getting there. For those of you who are unfamiliar: Wale (pronounced wah-LAY) is a D.C.-born rap artist; he grew up in the DC Metro area, and he’s made his hometown part of his music and image as he’s risen to prominence in the world of hip-hop

And prominence is the right word. Just this year, Wale was the house band for MTV’s VMAs; he released his first major-label album, Attention Deficit; and he opened for Jay-Z on tour.

Also, because of his D.C. upbringing, Wale is a die-hard Redskins fan; you might remember me mentioning his name last week as both a participant in the WKYS Sean Taylor tribute, and (in the same post) his video tribute to Taylor a year later.

So having him play at halftime may not be opening an auxiliary branch of Ben’s Chili Bowl in the press box, but it ain’t peanuts either.

I had a chance to talk to Wale yesterday while he was at Redskins Park. Here are some fast facts about Wale growing up a Redskins fan and how he thinks he could contribute ON the field.
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Wednesday, August 26: Remembering A Redskins Fan

Posted by Matt Terl on August 26, 2009 – 10:10 am

Nick Adenhart would’ve turned 23 this past Monday.

The Silver Spring native, a pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, was killed by a drunk driver on April 9 of this year. And this month has to be particularly tough for his friends and family, not only because of his birthday, but because football season is starting up. Redskins season, specifically. And Adenhart was a passionate Redskins fan; it was one of the things that he shared with his loved ones.

I know this because his friend Paul DiTomasso emailed to tell me so.

When I heard the news that Adenhart had passed away, it was distant — sad, because a young man had lost his life, but removed from me by 3,000 miles and any personal connection. Then I found out that he was from Silver Spring, the town I was born in, and it seemed closer. Then I realized that I had read a profile of him from his high school days five years ago in the Washington Post — a profile written by blogger Dan Steinberg, coincidentally enough — and it seemed closer still.

And then I got the email from DiTomasso, and the way DiTomasso described Adenhart’s feelings for the Redskins, and his group of friends and family, and the way all those things combined … it was all very familiar, and it changed Adenhart’s story for me. Instead of a distant celebrity tragedy, I understood as a much more human-scale loss.

DiTomasso was kind enough to allow me to reprint some of his memories of Adenhart, and to send a couple of photos of Adenhart and their friends celebrating at Redskins games. This week, following Adenhart’s birthday and the first home Redskins game since his passing, seemed like an appropriate time to share them.

Here’s DiTomasso: Read more »

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Monday, September 29: At The Game – Chief J and Chief Z

Posted by Matt Terl on September 29, 2008 – 7:20 am

Everyone knows Chief Zee, the longtime unofficial mascot of the Redskins. Zema Williams has been rooting on the team in his chiefly attire for thirty years now, and Redskins fans have seen him at home games, away games, in commercials, at charity events, at restaurants … I even know people who claim to have run into Chief Zee at the grocery store. My family has pictures of him holding an infant version of me at old RFK stadium. Chris Cooley recently mobilized the entire internet just to find Chief Zee’s stolen property.

Point is, Chief Zee is one of those Washington institutions that you would see in an establishing montage of D.C., sandwiched in with a monument or memorial, a cherry blossom, the exterior of a Metro station, a picture of the President grinning, Ben’s Chili Bowl, and former Mayor Marion Barry. Most of the time, you don’t think about who’s going to succeed an icon.

Unless you’re Fort Washington, MD, native and Redskins season ticket holder Anthony Jordan, that is.

Jordan calls himself Big Chief J Strongbone, and views Chief Zee as inspiration, forerunner, and — he hopes — mentor. “I’m hoping to get the opportunity to meet him and get him to pass the tomahawk on to me when he’s done,” he says. “I’m like his apprentice, a padawan of Chief Zee.”

Have you caught any heat from Dallas fans?

“Oh, no,” he says, sounding surprised. “I love coming to Dallas. There’s so much love here, from Redskins fans AND Cowboys fans, nothing but love.” I’ll admit, Cowboys fans have been much nicer than I expected, but I’m not sure I’d go that far. Do you always head out to games dressed like this?

“Oh, yeah. Well, I used to have a different headdress on, a black one, but for Dallas I wanted to get a new one.” It’s a very intimidating headdress, especially combined with the faux-bone chestpiece he’s wearing, and when I tell him so he brandishes his tomahawk at me. The tomahawk is not quite so intimidating. In fact, I can’t quite tell what it is.

“It’s a handmade tomahawk,” he explains. Right, but what actually IS it? “It’s a helmet on a nerf ball. It’s a new approach to the tomahawk.” It certainly is.

Chief J still hadn’t met Chief Zee when I left the field, and Chief Zee was too busy posing for pictures when I suggested he come around and meet Chief J with me. I left him to it and headed off to the press box, but as I left I could only wonder one, very basic thing: if Chief Zee did agree to mentor Chief J, would they have to ask Roc-A-Fella Records for permission to appear as Chief Jay-Z?

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