Chris Cooley retires, joins Washington Redskins’ radio broadcast team

Chris Cooley joined the Washington Redskins’ radio broadcasting team Tuesday, effectively ending his career as an NFL player but preserving the link between one of the team’s most popular players and its legions of fans.

“I’m pumped,” Cooley said in a telephone interview. “This is a great deal for me. I really want this job, and I want to do it for a long time.”

Cooley, 31, ends his playing career after nine seasons — all with the Redskins. He was released in training camp prior to last season, but the Redskins re-signed him after starting tight end Fred Davis suffered a season-ending injury in October.

Cooley said he would not file his official retirement papers with the NFL immediately, leaving open a slim possibility of a return as a player. But he said he does not intend to play again.

“That door would be open a crack,” Cooley said. “But do I plan to play? No. I’m not officially retiring, mostly because I’m a procrastinator. But my plans are to be done. I don’t plan to play. I feel pretty fortunate.”

Cooley will not replace Sam Huff on the team’s radio broadcasts but instead will provide analysis during games. Huff, an NFL Hall of Famer who joined fellow analyst Sonny Jurgensen on the team’s radio broadcasts in 1981, retired this offseason after 38 years.

The team plans to use a two-man booth this season — with Jurgensen teaming with play-by-play man Larry Michael — although sideline reporter Doc Walker also will have an open mic, allowing him to add regular analysis.

The hiring was announced by Red Zebra Broadcasting, the company owned by Redskins owner Daniel Snyder that operates ESPN 980 (WTEM, 980 AM), the team’s flagship station in Washington. Cooley was signed to a multiyear deal, according to a written announcement.

“To add a talent and fan favorite like Chris to our team will add excitement to our broadcast and a level of unpredictability for our listeners,” Chuck Sapienza, the executive producer of the Redskins Radio Network, said in the announcement.

Cooley signed his contract Tuesday. The written announcement said Cooley will serve as an “in-game contributor” to the radio broadcasts, providing analysis in a “Cooley’s Corner” segment that will be heard every quarter.

“Chris has shown he has a true knowledge of the intricacies of the game and I look forward to having him share those with our listeners along the Redskins Radio Network,” Rick Carmean, the chief executive of Red Zebra, said in the announcement.

Cooley will also appear on Internet and television shows, including Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan’s show on WRC (Channel 4), as part of the deal, according to the announcement.

The Post Sports Live crew discusses whether the Redskins offense needs to change how it plays in the 2013 season to protect quarterback Robert Griffin III. (Post Sports Live)

Cooley said he was in contact with other broadcast outlets but wanted to continue his association with the Redskins.

“I had other opportunities,” he said. “I had other offers. This is the only job I wanted. The Redskins have been great to me, and this is a perfect situation for me.”

Cooley had only one catch last season. But he said repeatedly he was happy he returned to the team and enjoyed being part of the Redskins’ run to an NFC East title with rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III. He said he was in contact with other NFL teams after his release last summer but decided he would play only for the Redskins.

Barring another comeback, Cooley finishes his career with 429 catches for 4,711 yards and 33 touchdowns.

Mark Maske covers the NFL for The Washington Post.
Dan Steinberg writes about all things DC sports at the DC Sports Bog.
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