Hey! I'm Chris Cooley's Brother: How Tanner Cooley is making a name for himself in the D.C. sports world
It is the day after Halloween, and Tanner Cooley is at a fair for collectors of sports memorabilia in Chantilly watching his friend Nationals All-Star third baseman Ryan Zimmerman autograph baseball bats. The offer to go on Air Force One comes from an older guy in a baseball cap named Andrew Lang, who owns a sports marketing firm and has over the past several weeks done Tanner one favor or another. Lang knows Zimmerman, too. He seems to know everyone, including the guy in the trench coat standing next to him who has Secret Service connections. Hence the offer of a tour of Air Force One.
Tanner, 24, doesn't know much about Lang except that he seems to have a lot of money. Lang doesn't know much about Tanner except that he is the younger brother of Redskins All-Pro tight end Chris Cooley.
Tanner came to Washington a little over a year ago, and since then people he barely knows have offered to do all sorts of things -- lend him a different car every few weeks, make him a reality TV star, whiten his teeth. In addition to Zimmerman, he now counts as friends Washington Capitals stars Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green, and Redskins tight end Todd Yoder. He has become so ubiquitous at Caps games and at FedEx Field that fans now occasionally ask for his autograph, which he refuses to give.
In Chantilly, Tanner doesn't doubt Lang's ability to follow through. He just isn't sure whether a tour of Air Force One is a privilege or a pain, a day wasted jumping through security hoops. Lang must sense his hesitation, because he mentions that Zimmerman got a peek inside the president's plane not too long ago while it was parked at Andrews Air Force Base.
"Is it worth it?" Tanner asks Zimmerman.
The ballplayer looks up from signing autographs and nods. He got to see the White House, too, he says, and not just the parts the tourists see. But the idea of getting a closer look at the Nixons' china patterns doesn't appeal to Tanner. He has something else in mind.
"I want to meet Barack," he tells Lang.
"Can you bring Ovechkin and Chris?"
"Yeah," Tanner says. He turns and looks at Zimmerman. "Hey, Zim, would you come meet Barack with Chris? How cool would that be?"
The guy in the trench coat looks exasperated. "Don't tell people that," he implores Lang. "I don't know the guy," referring to the president.
"We're talking the three best athletes in D.C.!" Lang retorts.
And Tanner, of course.