Rookie defensive lineman Markus Koch, who is big, brash and on the belligerent side, is being paid handsomely by the Washington Redskins to create havoc on a football field this fall.
This should not be a problem for Koch, the Redskins' top draft choice from Boise State in Idaho. Here is a man who works overtime on havoc.
In the last two weeks, Koch (pronounced Cook) has been denied entry into the United States at the Canadian border near Buffalo; has had his car searched by border authorities looking for something illegal (they found nothing); has been the object of a flurry of bureaucratic activity to obtain a work visa; and, while the Redskins waited, has taken his time arriving for training camp.
Yesterday, Koch said, he was broke and eating macaroni and cheese for dinner at his apartment in Alexandria. Today, he is worth nearly $1 million after signing a three-year contract, including a $200,000 up-front signing bonus.
Typically, a rookie arrives quietly for his first day on the job, especially if he is late. Sometimes, he is hardly noticed.
In Koch's defense, it would be hard to miss him even if he hadn't had such an unusual month of July and hadn't been willing to tell all about it. He is 6 feet 5 and weighs 275 pounds, which makes him smaller than Dave Butz, Joe Jacoby and about no one else on the Redskins' roster.
This afternoon, Koch showed up for his first team meeting wearing a black-and-silver T-shirt that said, among the printable things: "Live Your Life," "Ignore Heroes" and "Wake Up."
When asked to explain the shirt, which he got from a band, he said, "There's nothing to explain. It speaks for itself."
His short, dark hair was standing on end. Was this water or mousse?
"Spit," he said. "I haven't washed my hair in a few days."
A multicolored tattoo was on the back of his right calf. It shows a bolt of lightning, a sunset and a beach.
"I'm a nature lover," Koch said.
The tattoo cost him $10 or $15 in Boise last year. Why did he do it? "It was a slow day."
He reads Jack Kerouac and Superman comics. He doesn't like interviews. He says he is "a day-to-day kind of guy." And, sadly, he says he never met ex-Redskins running back John Riggins, who probably would have liked him.
"I can't say I've had the pleasure," Koch said.
The Redskins have been asked often about their "personality crisis" this season. With Riggins gone and quarterback Joe Theismann headed that way, one must wonder who will add spice to the 1986 roster.
Although rookies rarely fill the "character" role, it's clear the Redskins hadn't realized what potential lurked behind Koch's deep, dancing eyes.
"You like some character," said Coach Joe Gibbs, "but you like it going in the right direction. If it's missing two-a-days, I don't know. At minicamp, Markus seemed pretty quiet. I don't know."
Koch speaks in short, sarcastic bursts, reminds reporters of Butz in size and demeanor and has the looks that could well have made him a Prussian soldier in another life. He was born in West Germany, the son of East German defectors, and moved with his family to Kitchener, Ontario, as a child.
He is a Canadian citizen, hence the problems entering the country nearly two weeks ago. "They didn't like my looks," Koch said.
Actually, Koch's student visa expired recently, and he needed a work visa but didn't have one until his second try into the United States. "I wasn't aware the Redskins needed to petition to get my work visa, and they weren't aware of it, either," he said.
Being turned away July 13 was "kind of like having a date at 6 o'clock and knocking on the door and nobody answers," Koch said.
Authorities searched his car, he said, because he is "a dangerous-looking guy . . . I get searched all the time . . . America is afraid of terrorists, right?"
Koch, who had a playbook at home with him during his short holdout, said it doesn't matter to him where he plays on the defensive line: end, where he played in college, or tackle. Gibbs said the Redskins will try him at both places.
If veteran defensive end Dexter Manley holds out in a contract dispute, as expected, Koch might find more work there. When questioned if Koch has the speed necessary to play end, Gibbs said, "Yes."
But he also is expected to make an overcrowded situation at tackle even more competitive. The tackles are Butz, Darryl Grant, Dean Hamel, Bob Slater, Tom Beasley (also an end) and Koch.
At the end of last season, the team carried just three tackles.
"My goal is to fit in anywhere that I can," Koch said. "I'll do anything to get a spot on the team."
He stopped, then quickly added, "Anything within the rules of the Redskins."
Tight end Clint Didier, who suffered a mild strain of his right hamstring Tuesday, said he will not practice until next week . . . Rookie wide receiver Eric Yarber, one of the smallest Redskins at 5 feet 8 and 156 pounds, has made one of the biggest early impressions. Yarber, a 12th-round draft choice from Idaho, has caught nearly everything thrown his way, including an over-the-cornerback grab today that drew cheers from teammates . . . Free-agent kicker Jim Asmus made all eight field goals in the first day of kicking competition. Former Maryland standout Jess Atkinson made seven of eight; free agent Steve Willis made six of eight . . . Rookies Rick Badanjek and Mark Rypien caught Gibbs' eye in the team's first scrimmage tonight. Badanjek, the former Maryland running back, was almost impossible to bring down. On one play he bounced off so many would-be tacklers on his way to the end zone that he lost his helmet and his mouthpiece. Rypien, a quarterback from Washington State, lived up to his nickname -- Rip -- on almost every pass, constantly hitting receivers.