Continuing my run as "least effective reporter-slash-blogger in recent memory," I've again managed to "tape" 90 minutes worth of material on a tape recorder with no batteries, although the recording makes a lovely humming sound when you press play. In this case, the purported interviewees were members of the Maryland football team, who are currently en route to the Baltimore Ravens practice facility for some indoor, rain-free practice. Without the benefit of direct quotes, I will now paraphrase my way through the past two hours of my life, all the while uttering words not fit for blog publication in an empty Byrd Stadium press box.
1) Guard Andrew Crummey, who interned with Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) over the summer, predicts a Democratic takeover of the House. Crummey gained somewhat of a national reputation as a conservative in the past few years, after stories in The Post and on ESPN.com about his political debates with Dominique Foxworth. Crummey liked the Post story, but thought the ESPN.com story painted him as an unrealistically staunch conservative. He now says "I'm nothing," that he's too young to be fixed as a liberal or conservative, or as a Democrat or a Republican, and that his views don't fit any label. He says all he knows about this election is what he reads on the news and what he hears from his former friends in Hoyer's office, but he thinks it looks good for the Dems.
2) Several players were asked about their experience in brawls, in the wake of the Florida International-Miami fight. Joey Haynos recalled being at a seventh grade CYO basketball game when a fight broke out that involved about 15 grown men. His father was in the middle of it, trying to break things up. He remembers being scared. Isaiah Gardner regaled reporters with tales of a rumble that started in the stands when he was playing for Salem High in Virginia Beach, and eventually made its way down to the field, in which fists flew and participants wound up getting maced. (When I asked if he was involved, he looked at me, smiled and said "NO!") Wesley Jefferson said his team got in a brawl when he was an 8-year-old playing with the Clinton (Md.) Jets against Upper Marlboro, a fight that involved third graders chucking helmets at each other and lots of mayhem. All three men, of course, came out against fighting, as did Ralph Friedgen.
(Speaking of brawls, Gardner wound up telling two of us reporters about a fight he got in with some rivals from another school when he was in 12th grade. The fight happened before a weekend, and he thought it was over by the next week, but then, he said, the kids from the other school appeared in a parking lot with a gun and started firing shots. His football coach showed up and wound up hiding Gardner inside the school gymnasium. Gardner said he still encounters people back home who say "it ain't over" and who want to drag him back into their squabbles. "Like crabs in a pot," he said. He described lots and lots of different people as "haters" who didn't want to see him succeed, including some of his former teachers, and hsaid he's lucky that he even made it to college. Needless to say, he doesn't have fond feelings for Virginia Beach, or for the entire state of Virginia. He's thinking about staying in Maryland after he's done with school.)
3) Gardner also has ties to Detroit, because his father lived there and had joint custody of Gardner and his brother and would frequently bring them to Michigan for weekends and holidays. Detroit, Gardner said, wasn't necessarily a more peaceful place than Virginia Beach, but he grew up loving all the Detroit sports teams. "My Tigers are in the World Series," he kept saying, and he boasted that he has two Tigers baseball hats plus a skull cap. But when I asked him if he'd rather see the Cardinals or the Mets, he said he doesn't really follow baseball, except to root for the Tigers.
4) Speaking of allegiances to other teams, local boy Joey Haynos grew up a huge Redskins fan, and actually went to Sunday's game, as did snapper Brendan McDermond and at least one of the Galt boys. Haynos said it was tough to watch, but he insisted he didn't boo, that he would never boo the Redskins. He said he thought it would be an ideal weekend: he'd get to watch the Terps win on Saturday (well, help them win, actually), and he'd get to watch the Redskins win on Sunday. He also said he was calling for Brunell's head earlier in the year, but the Texans game made him doubt himself, and so now he's done playing coach and will leave personnel matters to the experts. There were some funny quotes in here; hopefully one of my colleagues will salvage them. Haynos was also wearing khaki pants, white socks and running sneakers, which I assume means he'd like to enter the coaching profession.
5) In light of all the talk about Maryland's euphoric postgame celebration after the Virginia game, I had to ask about Friedgen's behavior. I had heard he was dancing in the lockerroom, and I wanted to find out what sort of moves he was busting out. "He's got some pretty good ones, better than you would think," Gardner said. But other players said it was really more hopping than dancing; one of those big circular jumpfests you see before games, only with lots of screaming and lots of coaches involved.
So how high, I asked, could Friedgen jump?
"He was off the ground," Crummey said. "A couple inches. We'll give him the benefit of the doubt."
Wesley Jefferson gave me a no comment on that one.
I also asked about those reports that Maryland players were screaming something about the 'Hoos after the game. Completely false, the Terps said. In fact, I'm not sure they even knew what I was talking about with the whole 'Hoos thing. They were saying "Woo woo woo woo woo," which is completely different than "Hoo Hoo Hoo Hoo Hoo."
"We were just banging it up, getting crunk," Gardner explained, which I'm sure will make the Virginia columnists relieved.
6) In terms of football, Friedgen said N.C. State (this week's opponent) is great, that practice is going well, that he's very happy to have this two-back rotation (Lattimore/Ball) and that he has four good backs, that third-string RB Josh Allen is not what he used to be but is still pretty good and extremely supportive, that this team has never stopped competing even in its losses, that they finally won the crucial make-or-break battles against Virginia but that he doesn't know if that is something that will carry over, that this team definitely has some limitations but that they can be overcome by hard work and effort, that he was feeling sorry for himself before the Virginia game but that he's back to being positive, that he's hoping the student body and fan base will be out in force this weekend, that the team needs to make more things happen in the passing game and he needs to be more wide-open with his playcalling, that part of the defense's problems are due to inexperience, and that the Terps remain a work in progress.
He also said he likes and respects Chuck Amato, but that he doesn't think he'd be able to rock the red shoes or the sunglasses. Once before a game, he told Amato that he had a clothing outlet himself. "Yeah?" Amato said. "Big and Tall," Friedgen said.
"He didn't find that funny," Friedgen said.
"I guess you didn't either," Friedgen said.
7) Best football answer of the day award goes to Joey Haynos, who was asked whether Maryland got over the hump last weekend.
"We've still got the hump ahead of us," Haynos said.
Which is true. After N.C. State this week, the Terps play four straight Saturdays: vs. Florida State, at Clemson, vs. Miami and at Boston College.