It’s been brought to my attention that where once I went to actual sporting events and asked offbeat questions of players in an attempt to bring something new and different to the world of D.C. sports media, now I just post transcripts of radio interviews and pictures of facial hair and suspicions that the Redskins season-ticket waiting list doesn’t actually have 200,000 names on it.
In an attempt to reverse this trend, I traveled to Redskins training camp on Monday, to ask some players about the rookie skits, which are ongoing this week.
You’ll recall that last year, the best skit involved an Albert Haynesworth conditioning test spoof, starring Erik Cook, Trent Williams and Selvish Capers in the starring role. Mike Shanahan, remember, calls rookies to the front of the room, telling them “we want to be entertained.” So, how did this year’s skits go?
Well, the best performance seems to have been delivered by a quintet of rookie defensive backs, led by seventh-round pick Brandyn Thompson, who turned to religion for inspiration.
“You go to church, they tell you to open up your Bibles. To us, the Bibles are our playbooks,” Kevin Barnes told me. “So he was just going through, reading some of the coverages with a religious swang to it.”
“I’m not the shyest person in the world, so I figured I’d go up there and try to help out,” Thompson said. “I just called it the Saint Shanahan Apostle Baptist Church.”
DeJon Gomes was the deacon, charged with collecting the offering from the vets — “We figured everybody in the room had a little bit of money so they could donate to the church,” Thompson said, though no one gave. And the hymn — “Oh Happy Day” — was sung by a trio of rookie backs led by Dante Barnes.
“I feel like I’ve got a good voice,” Barnes said.
“All voices sound good to Jesus,” Thompson pointed out.
Gomes, I should point out, was on his second time at the front of the room by the time he joined up with the Church of Shanahan. The first time didn’t go as well.
“His first day, he went up there with an orange in his hand,” Barnes recalled. “I’m like, what the hell is he gonna do with an orange? Then he brought two more oranges out of his pocket and started juggling. It didn’t work.”
“But it wasn’t even juggling, it was just two oranges going back and forth,” Jarvis Jenkins complained.
“He’s awkward funny, and I am too, so I get it,” said Roy Helu Jr., Gomes’s college teammate. “I thought that was pretty cool, because I know his personality. But yeah, he got booed.”
“He got booed pretty quick,” Chris Neild agreed. “Almost everyone got booed, except us. ”
Ah yes. That would be Neild, Jenkins and guard Maurice Hurt, who devoted their skit to mocking both nose tackle Anthony Bryant (played by Hurt) and the team’s fiery defensive line coach, Jacob Burney (played by Jenkins).
“The first day of running, [Bryant] kind of fell out, he was tired as hell,” Neild told me.
“Anthony Bryant always catch cramps,” Jenkins said. “Before we run conditioning he always complains about how he cramps up. He can run, he just doesn’t like to run.”
Jenkins, meanwhile, stole several of Burney’s catch phrases, to great acclaim. The rookie defensive end claimed Burney enjoyed the skit, too.
“He loved it,” Jenkins insisted. “He was looking like he was gonna kill me, but it was a whole lot of fun.”
Other lowlights? Well, several players were less-than-impressed with rookie offensive lineman Willie Smith, who sang the East Carolina fight song.
“It just wasn’t good,” Neild said.
“That was pretty weak,” Thompson agreed.
“It wasn’t that great,” Helu added.
“It didn’t go good,” Smith admitted. “It didn’t work. Nobody wasn’t feeling the fight song. They’re looking for entertainment; it wasn’t very entertaining. [Shanahan] caught me off guard, too. I didn’t think I was going. My last name is Smith; I thought I was gonna have a day or two. He got me, man. That’s all I could think of. I got booed off the stage.”
And finally, what of Ryan Kerrigan, the team’s highest-profile rookie?
“Kerrigan was the one who was funny,” Hurt said of the first-round pick. “He imitated a scuffle at practice. He dressed up as one of the offensive linemen, put something on to make him big, then pretended to get in a scuffle with a linebacker.”
In fact, Kerrigan told me he held a little boxing match, poking fun at a real-life practice scuffle. Which offensive lineman was he? And which pretend linebacker was he scuffling?
“I don’t know if I should disclose who the fight was between,” the linebacker said apologetically. “I don’t know if Coach would want us putting out there who was fighting. I don’t know. Sorry.”