Thursday, September 3, 2009
When fans started commenting about Colt Brennan's visor during the Washington Redskins' third preseason game last week, I began wondering, for the first time, why he wears the thing. Turns out it's a complicated answer.
In just more than a year in the NFL, his visor's biggest news splash came last fall, after Jason Taylor covered it with Vaseline as a prank, rendering it unusable. Other teammates have admitted to visor jealousy.
"I don't think he's intimidating anyone with that visor," Chris Cooley said, "but I still think it looks cool."
Brennan also says he has trouble with his vision on bright days, owing to the time he spent on the Southern California water as a kid, but his visor issues run deeper. For one thing, he was always a huge admirer of Sean Taylor and thought the safety's various visors were the height of cool.
"He was just a guy that stood out to me in a lot of ways, so I ended up just loving him to death," Brennan said. "All my boys and everybody, we just loved Sean Taylor. And that grew, and then by the time I got to college we were all just trying to rock visors."
Then there's this: Brennan's sister works for a snowboard shop that has some contacts with Oakley, and after his eye got poked early in his junior college year at Saddleback College, she sent him a tinted visor. This was during the height of his much-publicized, off-the-field legal issues; opponents were greeting him with slurs and shots below the belt, protesters were targeting the school administration and his court case was dominating his thoughts.
Brennan tried the visor for the first time during Saddleback's third game of the season. He discovered that, unexpectedly, it helped him block out the static, that "it's so easy for you to turn away when you know [opponents] can't see your eyes." And he ended the day with four touchdowns, 243 yards and a win.
"When they would call me certain names, when they would say things about me, it would just bounce right off that visor and right back at them," he said. "It just gave me a chance to kind of sit back and feel protected, when so many people were hitting me late, saying negative things, calling me names, grabbing me in the huddles and stuff like that.
"It gave me like a gap, so they could tell no matter what they were doing, they weren't affecting me."
Indeed, he responded with the best passing season in school history, setting single-season marks with 3,395 yards, a 65 percent completion rate and 30 touchdowns. He eventually parlayed that success into his career at Hawaii and a job with the Redskins, a job he will try to protect Thursday night. Eye issues aside, that sort of helps explain why he's stuck with the visor.
"Once I put that thing on, it was like a whole different me," he said. "And once I had that success, I never wanted to change it."