Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Captain Chaos...Chris Cooley Will ALWAYS BE A REDSKIN

I had to give myself some time to really put my thoughts into words while not seething at the Washington Redskins and without swearing up a storm. I may not say all that I want but I will say enough.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012 was a sad day for fans of the Washington Redskins.  The team announced their decision, that surprised few, that fan favorite Tight End Chris Cooley had been cut from the team as it trimmed its roster closer to the final 53-man unit that will start the regular season. The team’s all-time leader in receptions by a TE was now unemployed…not cool.

This news was not too shocking, except for perhaps the fact that the team waited this long. Why not cut him back in the summer? If he wasn’t in your plans why not cut him earlier in camp? Why string along the most professional guy the team has had since he came aboard in 2004? Many fans were sad, I’m still mourning, many fans were angry and for whatever reason some were mad at Chris himself.
I am a HUGE Chris Cooley fan and I’ll never deny it. I have his jersey, I have a hell of a card collection (sneak peak at the end of this post), and I have enjoyed seeing him perform on the field, speak up regarding the team’s tough stretches and enjoyed his humble and candid interviews. Chris Cooley did not deserve to see his tenure as a Redskin end this way.

Chris was more than a Redskins player, he was an identity with the team. People that weren't even football fans would associate the name Cooley with Redskins. Cooley was a go-to guy for the carousel of quarterbacks that played her during his time including Patrick Ramsey, Mark Brunell, Jason Campbell, Todd Collins, Donovan McNabb, and Rex Grossman. When in doubt dump the ball to Cooley and he'll get you a first down because 9 times out of 10 he was sure handed and got the job done. That's what RG3 is gonna need so the offensive line and WRs that can't get open don't get him killed, THE Pro Bowl Tight End, not the player that can't be trusted. Cooley was to the Redskins  what Darrell Green was for two decades. He epitomized the way that Redskins players were supposed to play and how they were expected to act on and off the field. Pure class and character. Of course to me this move lacked that, I get its a "new regime" but this team has always been one to restructure deals and they didn't even offer Cooley that.
In 2004 I had no idea who this Chris Cooley character was. I was browsing over the Redskins draft results and read that Coach Joe Gibbs, whom I adore for what he did during his first go-round with the Redskins as well as how he lives his life, was very high on Cooley. I also knew the magic that Gibbs could perform with players. Then I saw him play and that was it. I was in the tank for him and my man crush totally began.

Cooley was a big kid. Whenever you watched an interview with him it was not about him, it was always the team, always someone else that should get some notoriety. When the team struggled Chris took blame, when the losing got worse he apologized to the fans and said, like he did yesterday, that the best fans in the world deserved better that they deserved a championship team. Chris never threw a teammate under the bus, never got a coach fired, never played a game where he took a play off. If there was one constant thing you could expect from the Redskins every season for the past 8 years it was that #47 was going to be the starting Tight End.

Of course four years ago the Skins drafted malcontent Fred Davis. This lead to whispers that Cooley could become a cap casualty in the near future. Davis’ first two seasons he had hands of stone and really didn’t run great routes and didn’t play too much until Chris went down with an injury. His 3rd season was another unimpressive one (16 games, 9 starts, 21 receptions). Last season however, with Cooley injured Davis put up great numbers and was named the team’s Offensive Player of the Year despite being suspended 4 games for failing the league’s drug policy. That’s right, the team cut their FAN FAVORITE for a guy that was selfish, smoked his pot, and then had to sit out the last 4 games of a terrible season. I wasn’t a Davis fan when the Skins drafted him, not because I felt he was a threat to Cooley but because he came out of USC who has been known to produce busts in the NFL. Then this happens, and he’s being investigated for an altercation at a night club with a woman. Classy guy they kept over a guy that keeps his nose clean.
That’s not to say Cooley was perfect, he did “skip out” on an appearance at a Bethesda Big Train game a few years back and I’ve heard of other stories of him missing appearances, but can’t confirm if that’s true or more of someone that felt burned from a snub. Chris jeopardized his healthy because he was rushing back without being 100% healed but in the “best interest of the team;” did have some drops or untimely fumbles, who doesn’t; and did post a picture of the team’s playbook which happened to have a picture of “Lil Chris” in it too. That last thing though was part of the charm of Cooley and his ability to handle humility…think of the shorty shorts he wore to practice. Chris loved to have fun and the reporters loved talking to him.

I was lucky enough to meet Chris in October 2009 at the Collector’s Showcase of America show in Chantilly, VA. I heard last minute that he’d be there the day I went and my mother surprised me by purchasing me a ticket to get Chris’ autograph on a mini helmet. Mind you this was days after he had broken his ankle, which I think was karma for that God awful blonde dye job he had done to his hair.  As I waited in line Chris passed by acknowledging fans, thanking them, even signing for a few kids. I got up to his table and Chris was interacting with the kids of the people ahead of us unlike any athlete I had ever seen and those kids smiled from ear to ear. If he wasn’t banging the cheerleader I’d have had his babies. I got up there, we exchanged pleasantries, I told him how I was a huge fan and he appreciated it, signed my helmet and a Score base card, which he had brought a stack of to sign for anyone that came to the table. This is who Chris Cooley was as a Redskin, he was a fan of the people as much as they were a fan of him. I’m sure I could share dozens of similar stories that my co-worker told me about when she saw him at restaurants in Ashburn. Chris accepted his celebrity as something that came with the job and he was never a douche or a diva about it.

What’s more Chris is also a card collector. He’s bought cards, some of his own, on ebay, and even mentioned at the show that he couldn’t wait to be done signing so he could go check out the cards at the show. In fact he also busted a box with, I think Clinton Portis, of a Panini product either for the company or a local dealer. Chris also blogged about his collecting a few years back Captain Chaos is a Collector. Seriously if I was gay Christy would be competition.

All that said and jokes aside, Captain Chaos should have retired a Redskin, on his terms. It would be great if he could resign in a few weeks as some have suggested. I hope Davis fails another drug test or that Cooley joins the Baltimore Ravens. I’m not sure that he was ever a major part of the plans. I heard two TE sets would be possible, lining him up at Full Back, that his cap cost vs his injuries made him not worth it as did the expectations of Niles Paul. Chris Cooley is the heart of the Redskins, he was a captain, he was PROVEN, he could catch, run, and block. Then again sports is a business and if the team didn’t have RG3 then Cooley would still be a Redskin. Think about this RG3 came in and the fans went gaga for him. Money being thrown around for jerseys or anything with Griffin on it, see those ridiculous pre-season match-up shirts vs. Luck and the Colts. The Skins had their new cash cow. They made a ton of money on Sean Taylor after his passing, with money going to a fund for his daughter, and now the team has someone that can make them more money than Cooley and hopefully ease the hit the team would take amongst its fans.

I tried to get a Twitter petition going for fans to chant “THANK YOU CHRIS and WE WANT COOLEY” but that probably won’t happen. It would be nice for fans to pay respect to Cooley today and at the first home game. Let the team know they screwed up. He said over the summer he wouldn’t play for another team that wasn’t the Skins but he has too much left and I think he’ll be back, whether its later in the season with Washington because the experiment didn’t work out, or Davis “experimented” again or with any team not named the Dallas Cowboys or Pittsburgh Steelers..again Baltimore is a great fit given its location and proximity to home…Ashburn not Utah.

From the bottom of this Burgundy and Gold heart I want to thank Chris Cooley for all he did for Redskins fans on and off the field, during good times and bad, for being accountable, and for more than anything being genuine and human. You deserved better but I will always be a fan and I will always cherish the collection of cards of that I have and hopefully you'll retire, years from now as a Washington Redskin.

For viewing pleasure all cards are mine and others can be found at
Cooley Collection


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