In the early days of this blog, I relied on a bunch of colorful and successful athletes who performed on the field and delivered off the field, guys like Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler, Clinton Portis and Chris Cooley.
Now they’re all gone. (Not gone as in dead; gone as in no longer active D.C. athletes.)
Cooley was certainly among the most bloggable (and beloved) D.C. athletes of the past decade, a player I interviewed at Redskins Park, in his mom’s living room, at a D.C. club when he was trying to promote a n indie horror movie, at the National Building Museum, at Langston golf course, and in the green room of a D.C. hotel when we were on a panel about athlete engagement or something like that.
And so on the occasion of his release, here are seven of his most bloggable moments. Obviously these having nothing to do with his excellent football career; these have to do with pixels and page views. They’re all post-2006, since that’s when I started.
1) How Chris Cooley’s Privates Hit the Internet
Won’t ever get better than that. Quoting from my blog item:
Maybe you saw how a photo of Chris Cooley’s most personal parts became available for mass Internet consumption yesterday. If you’re like Chris Cooley's brother Tanner — the editor of Cooley’s blog, on which this photo first appeared — here’s what you might have wondered:
“Dude, why did you take a naked picture of yourself and put it on the blog?”...
“It was an accident, it was an accident, I didn’t mean to,” was Chris’s response.
That’s all fine and good, but the best quote from the incident came in a Mike Wise column, in which Wise talked to Cooley’s mom.
“It’s never a good day when you hear there’s a picture of your son’s penis on the Internet,” Nancy said.
That’s a good quote.
2) Punching People
During the height of his fame, Cooley blogged for both Yahoo! Sports and Sports Illustrated. There were dozens of great moments. Here was one of them:
If athletes/celebs are out having a good time, I don’t think fans should try to take advantage of them by sneaking photos online. Cell phone cameras are out of control right now. Just shake hands and say hello. Oh, and I know that if someone tries to video me taking a piss again, I’m not going to hesitate to punch them square in the face.
Not sure if he ever followed through on this.
3) Short Shorts and Long Pants
“A lot of guys were attracted to the look we had today,” Cooley said then. “A lot of guys thought we looked sleek, faster.”
4) Romo the Choker
Perhaps no D.C. athlete in recent memory embraced D.C. as completely as Cooley did; his brother moved here, his mother moved here, he opened a pottery studio here, and he loathed the Cowboys. Which led to this magical radio moment last season, when Cooley was asked about Tony Romo choking away a huge lead.
“It’s SO good,” Chris Cooley said. “It’s amazing, AMAZING to watch him choke like that....It’s hilarious to watch him throw pick sixes, too, back-to-back. I loved it.”
There were many, many follow-ups, but the quote was the thing.
5) Caps Escapades
Another element of Cooley’s aforementioned D.C. love was his sweaty embrace of other D.C. teams and athletes, from Redskins rookies to Ryan Zimmerman to Alex Ovechkin.
That was all sort of encapsulated in one famous trip to Verizon Center, when Cooley left his Mercedes running for nine hours in a Metro parking lot, made out with his wife on the Kiss Cam, tried to break into the Caps locker room to steal Ovechkin’s stick, told an opposing player “he is a bitch and [I’m] gonna beat his ass after the game,” and told a Cowboys fan “she was the ugliest girl in the bar.”
6) The traffic stop
Aside from Portis, Cooley was the most likely Redskin to make headlines during radio interviews. One of my favorites came when he was pulled over for poor driving during a call-in with 106.7 The Fan.
“Hold on guys, I'm getting pulled over, so hang on,” Cooley said, just before an officer began talking to him, which was audible.
“Yeah, I apologize,” Cooley said to the officer. “I'll take it easy there.”
When the officer went back to his car, Cooley explained that he had rounded a corner near his house and drifted out of his lane, which the officer found to be an unsafe practice. Cooley had his seatbelt on, and was not speeding.
“I don’t think there’s a real ticket you can give for that,” he said of his maneuver. “Nonsense driving, maybe. It was fine. Everything was fine.”
7) Helping Me Out
I know this is meaningless to you, but Cooley helped me in many ways. Most notably, when the Redskins established a new policy eliminating any Washington Post video work on the grounds of Redskins Park, Cooley invited me to his mom’s house to do a lengthy video interview.
But I also think back to the clear-out day after Jim Zorn’s first season. Cooley and his chums — then including Todd Yoder, Ryan Boschetti and Colt Brennan — were getting ready for a guys trip to Atlantic City, but they were all just hanging out in the lobby of Redskins Park, making ridiculous small talk.
Those were the long-ago days when media members could sometimes wander through the building and get to know people, and so I just sat there and listened to a lot of their talk. Much of it was unprintable, but I managed a blog post in which Cooley and Yoder said they wanted to wrestle bears, and Cooley said he hoped to lose 50 pounds, run a marathon, and experiment with extreme back country skiing.
“So I have a lot of fun ideas: lose weight, cross-country marathon, heli-skiing and wrestling bears," Cooley concluded, in the safe-for-newspaper-blog version.
It was less about the made-up offseason goals than his willingness to let — or at least, appear to let — media members into part of his life, something that used to happen quite a bit in this town but doesn’t really happen very much anymore.
Which is why it’ll be extremely weird to watch a Redskins season that doesn’t involve Captain Chaos.