Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman Darnell Dockett knows all about the Washington Redskins, having grown up in Montgomery County, and he would like nothing better than to defeat the team his friends and family cheered for during his youth.
Although Dockett, a former Paint Branch High standout, grew up roughly 30 minutes from D.C., he never was a Redskins fan.
“Yeah, right. I didn’t like the Redskins,” Dockett said in a phone interview Thursday evening. “I always rooted for the Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Cowboys.”
Dockett, who went on to star at Florida State before being drafted by the Cardinals in 2004, has been trying to beat Washington ever since 2005 when as a second-year player, he and the Cardinals hosted the Redskins but lost, 17-13. Two years later, Dockett played at FedEx Field for the first time, but the Cardinals lost again – this time, 21-19. The following year, in a return to FedEx Field, Arizona lost, 24-17.
Dockett had to round up more than 65 tickets for family members and friends, and he looks forward to the opportunity for them to see him play live. But the opportunity to try yet again to beat the Redskins and improve to 2-0 on the season has him eager.
“I play in front of friends and family all the time but the biggest thing is being able to come home and play against a team that I have not beat since I’ve been in the NFL,” Dockett says. “That’s a big challenge for me.”
Dockett on Sunday will face good friend Tim Hightower, who was his teammate in Arizona for the last three seasons. Hightower and Dockett frequently spent time together in Arizona. The two often set weekly performance bets on who could work the hardest and get the better stats although they play different positions.
Dockett says he always won the bets, but that he and Hightower had fun and grew closer because of the friendly competitions.
He obviously hopes to help hold Hightower in check on Sunday, but Dockett believes that his former teammate is now in a perfect situation with the Redskins.
“Always have admired him,” Dockett said. “He works hard and runs hard, and when he went to Washington, I think everyone needs that opportunity for a fresh start, and I think he’ll fit well with what Shanahan does. … Overall, I think he just got caught in the numbers game [in Arizona]. Our coach looked out for him by sending him to a team that was struggling at running back and gave him a good opportunity, and now Shanahan’s giving him a good opportunity. He’ll do well out there.”