“It’s awesome,” Chris Cooley says. “The last episode of the first season has all these Journey songs and me and Christy just start going.”
As he smiles big at the thought of crooning a cover of “Don’t Stop Believin’,” Cooley disturbingly begins mimicking he and his wife running really, really fast.
First thought? It’s time for an intervention, whereby teammates and family members encircle Chris, tell him how much they love him and to stop already, he’s hurting them and himself. The NFL lockout will one day end, they’ll tell him; it doesn’t have to come to this: pottery, painting, fresh-baked chocolate-chip cookies on the gallery tables for his first showing Friday night in Leesburg, “Glee.”
This is a mow-’em-down, rumbling tight end. He’s on the Washington Redskins’ payroll, not Martha Stewart’s.
But it’s not like that.
“I love pottery. I’ve always loved pottery.”
“I love ‘Glee’ too.”
Oh. Never mind.
Working the clay carefully in his meat-hook hands as the wheel rotates in his pottery room at home, Cooley, who looks as if he has been laying dry wall all day in his clay-caked clothes and arms, takes about 20 minutes to form a meticulously round and wide vase. He estimates he has made 350 pieces the past three weeks in anticipation of his first public showing Friday night at the gallery.
“I think I’ve made about 700 pieces since Dec. 3,” he said.
Which if you think about it, is only 149 pieces short of his career-tying 849 receiving yards Cooley piled up in 2010.
Where his connections used to involve downfield receptions from NFL quarterbacks, he now boasts of “firing with” renowned potters – including Tim Sherman, who will be featured at his showing Friday. “I fired with Tim,” he says. “It’s great to fire with people.”
Oh . . . kay.
Cooley estimates he has sold about $50,000 worth of his work and has given away thousands more to charity. He is indeed quite the entrepreneur. Over the holidays, he hit the Redskins team store at the Leesburg outlets. Hard.
“I bought $6,000 worth of my own jerseys,” he says. “I literally took every one, piling them up to my head in my arms. You had to see people in line, looking at me, like, ‘Hey, that’s Cooley. What’s he doing buying his own jersey?’”
Simple: He uses his employee discount to get 40 percent off at the team store. He then signs them and re-sells them at his gallery at the price everyone else would pay. Cha-ching.
The gallery is just a couple of backroads away from the Cooley estate, which beyond all the normal elite athlete amenities — mansion with game room and pool — features that pottery room downstairs, replete with a wall of clay-forming chemicals, a pottery wheel and a $25,000 wooden kiln outside.