DeAngelo Hall emerges as unlikely but capable leader for Redskins
Wednesday, September 15, 2010; 12:08 AM
Shortly after Mike Shanahan was hired as the Redskins' new head coach, he sought out cornerback DeAngelo Hall and asked him to help restore the team to prominence by accepting a true leadership role.
The request demonstrated how much Hall, once a self-described "me-first" guy, has matured in six NFL seasons. He accepted Shanahan's offer to take on more responsibility than he previously envisioned he could.
Hall is now the front man of a talented secondary that is expected to produce turnovers in the team's new 3-4 defensive scheme, like the fumble he returned for the Redskins' only touchdown in Sunday's 13-7 victory over Dallas.
"You know, it's funny, man, just how things can change," Hall said the other day in a nearly empty locker room at Redskins Park. "I used to be out there, chasing money, chasing fame, chasing Pro Bowls . . . just always chasing it. But I've been there and done that; just don't really excite me no more. Yeah, all that stuff is nice. It's nice to have. But if you don't win games, none of it matters. Right now, what's important to me, what matters to me, is just getting this right here and building something great again."
Hall did his part against the Cowboys. He had seven tackles, six of them unassisted, two pass defenses - and perhaps the game's biggest play. Trailing 3-0, the Cowboys took possession of the ball on their 30-yard line with only 27 seconds remaining in the first half.
In such situations, conventional football wisdom dictates that offenses simply run out the clock. Apparently, Cowboys Coach Wade Phillips and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett didn't get the memo.
The Cowboys continued to run plays and the strategy proved disastrous for them. After a holding penalty, Dallas was on its 36 with four seconds to play in the quarter. Quarterback Tony Romo surveyed the field and couldn't locate an open receiver, so he flipped the ball to running back Tashard Choice.
Hall closed quickly on Choice and stripped the ball with both hands as Choice was being tackled. He scooped it up and raced down the sideline toward the end zone as time expired, high-stepping as he approached the goal line while his teammates and Redskins fans celebrated the 32-yard touchdown.
"That's what he does," cornerback Carlos Rogers said. "You know D Hall is a guy who always makes plays. That's just the way he is."
Hall's playmaking ability and talent has never been in question, but Shanahan wanted more from him. Shortly after he was hired in January, Shanahan met with Hall and asked him to become a true leader.
"I never had a coach say that to me," Hall said. "I never had a head coach sit me down and tell me that. I kind of felt a sense of responsibility. I never wanted to thrust myself into doing this. But if he feels like I'm capable of doing this, and if he thinks I'm ready to do this, ready for this role on this team, who am I to say I'm not?"