By Dan Steinberg
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 21, 2008
Training camp hazing seemed to be progressing according to schedule. Rookies were carrying the helmets of vets. Wits were calling rookie tight end Fred "I Overslept" Davis "Big Sleepy" and "Z's." Newcomers were called upon to stand on a chair and warble during Sunday night's dinner.
And they were getting rave reviews, at that. Rookie wideout Malcolm Kelly brought the house down with Luther Vandross's version of "A House is Not a Home."
"Oh, he's pretty good," Santana Moss said. "He sung it real well, and we all sung it with him. When you get guys to sing with you, you know that you're doing a job, so he sung real well. He was the best singer [Sunday] night."
"Malcolm can sing," Davis agreed. "He was in there getting standing ovations."
The musical fun ended quickly, though -- or, at least, the mandated musical fun. Coach Jim Zorn arrived after the vocal interlude and said there would be no more veteran-ordered singing this year.
"I just remember how distracting it is for a young guy trying to make a football team," Zorn explained. "And when I went to Seattle, one of the early meetings in training camp, Mike Holmgren stood up and said, 'Men, there will be no hazing.' I thought: 'What an idea! Gosh!' And he explained why, and he kind of explained that whole thing that I always thought: 'What are we doing here?' You know, we're grown men, we're fighting to make a football team."
And so, no more Luther Vandross, although Zorn said Kelly could still "stand up and vocalize" during meals if it was a strictly voluntary musical expression. "Having fun" and "practical jokes," he said, were also permissible. Anyhow, singing is out and, with Jason Taylor's arrival, dancing is in. Thing is, the new guy is joining a defense with at least three members renowned for their on-field moves.
"I mean, I know he do all the little Hollywood things like that, but when it comes to things that people look at on TV, actually on TV, video and stuff like that, I'm still the king," Carlos Rogers said. "I mean, you can't do all that on the field, you can't be picking up a girl, twirling her around, and doing things like that. What I do is what the crowd like to see."
"You know what, he's more of a classical dancer," Marcus Washington said of his new fancy-footed competition. "Me myself, I'm more of a freestyle, 'hood dancer, you know? See, I get all my dances from my little nieces back home, so I'm gonna stay original. I'm going with fluid dances. He does more of the tango and the classical stuff. A 'hood dancer's just whatever you feel. It might be anything from the Tootsie Roll to the Backyard Bounce to the Squirrel, the Cabbage Patch, whatever you feel."
"You know, with Jason showing up I could be, simply, the second best, because of his variety," Fred Smoot said. "You know, I can dance a certain couple ways, you know, maybe a little ballroom, maybe a little clubbing, but this guy has a six pack of dances, so yeah, I'm probably the second best right now."
But Rogers remained unfazed. He was still envisioning movement without costumes, without pre-ordained steps, with 90,000 judges instead of three.
"Actually [Taylor's] a good dancer, a real good dancer, but when it comes to the field," Rogers said, and then paused. "He's a great pass rusher," he finally said. "I can give him that."