Waiting to 'XL'

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Cornelius Griffin saw the mob flying toward him and broke into a steady trot. He moved swiftly through the parking lot at Redskins Park in Ashburn and came within 15 feet of his car. Then he realized he'd been surrounded.

Three video cameras poked at him from the left. Four reporters stood to his right. Two microphones pressed in front of him.

"Damn," Griffin said. "I don't want to be this popular."

There is, some Redskins players learned yesterday, a downside to advancing in the NFL playoffs. Players arrived at Redskins Park expecting a typically quiet, slow Monday. Instead, suddenly relevant in the NFL postseason, the Redskins ran into a media ambush.

About 20 reporters -- from Washington to Tacoma, Wash., to ESPN -- chased players in and out of the practice facility. Since only players in need of medical treatment showed up yesterday, everyone became a coveted target.

The mob peppered backup running back Ladell Betts with questions for 20 minutes. It interviewed defensive lineman Demetric Evans for, he said, "longer than I can ever remember." It chased backup cornerback Walt Harris to his car and kept Chris Samuels from entering the building.

Today and tomorrow promise to heighten the chaos. Enough media members will attend the Redskins' open locker room session today to increase dramatically the number of people ever to visit this far corner of the earth, a mass of playing fields and power lines 50 miles from the team's stadium in Landover. Then again, that influx might chase others away.

"Next time, I'm really running," Griffin said. "We've got paparazzi now."

CHEAP EATS: Apparently, playoff revenue has yet to filter down to the Redskins' lunch budget. At 11 a.m. yesterday, two workers unloaded a jeep filled with food from Baja Fresh -- a $6 dollar a plate fast-food burrito joint popular among broke college kids -- and delivered it to the team. Maybe the restaurant chain impressed the Redskins with its nutrition-heavy marketing campaign, but we're not so sure Baja Fresh will leave players feeling particularly light-footed. According to its Web site, the average Baja Fresh burrito weighed in at about 1,100 calories.

CHEAP SEATS: Fighting the urge to go to Seattle this weekend? Well, ticket prices no longer work as your excuse.

On the Internet classified adds Web site http://www.craigslist.com/ , more than a dozen people are selling upper-level seats to Saturday's game for as little as $120 a piece -- a bargain compared to other NFL playoff games. On the Web site yesterday afternoon, you'd pay considerably more to go to games in Denver ($140), Indianapolis ($170) or Chicago ($235).

CHEAP SHOTS: To avoid insulting native American heritage, the Seattle Times decided to limit severely the use of the term Redskins in the paper -- even if a team with that name will dominate news coverage this week. The Times will not use the moniker in headlines or captions. Reporters can use it only once, as a first reference, in all stories. The Redskins will be referred to almost exclusively as Washington -- which could get a little confusing for local readers who also live in that state.

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