Eight-year-old Redskins fan Lateef Brock got a surprise phone call from Mike Shanahan last Thursday. The coach told the boy that he’d been drafted and was to report to minicamp at Redskins Park on Tuesday. Brock, who was born with chronic kidney disease, had reached out to the Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic to request a day with the Redskins and Robert Griffin III. His wish was being granted.
When Brock arrived at minicamp on Tuesday, the team had a one-day contract ready for him to sign. His signing bonus? Unlimited candy.
“Man, I need to renegotiate my contract,” Alfred Morris joked. “I want candy.”
Now officially a contracted player, Brock got to visit the locker room, where he palled around with Morris, showed off his “clap pushups” prowess and tried on London Fletcher’s very big, very heavy helmet.
“He said he was going to take my job,” Morris said. “I said, ‘Okay, but it’s not going to be easy. I’m not a pushover.’ I’m glad he came, and my heart does go out to him. He’s so young to deal with so much.”
Brock, who received a successful kidney transplant in November, was then introduced to his favorite player, RGIII, and got to play catch with the quarterback.
“I feel blessed that he chose me to be the guy he came out to practice with and hung out with,” Griffin said. “I don’t have any kids, but a lot of the coaches do and they say that when you have a kid, you get more sensitive to things that happen with little children. It’s sad to see what he’s gone through, but I’m glad that we could make his day on this day.”
The pint-sized honoree spent practice on the sidelines interacting with players, and even got some punting lessons from Sav Rocca. And then, the biggest moment of all. Brock was going to get to run the last play of the day.
Brock lined up at running back and took the handoff from Rex Grossman. With the defense coming at him, he cut left, found a hole and took off down the field toward a waiting, cheering Griffin. Brock sprinted into the end zone, with DeAngelo Hall diving at his feet for dramatic effect.
“He was moving pretty fast, too,” Fletcher said afterward. “He outran the whole defense.”
“I started to get worried then,” Morris joked, remembering Brock’s joke to him in the locker room. “I was like, he might actually take my job. He’s just the type of running back the NFL wants. One cut and get up field, and he did just that. He’s got some speed behind him, too.”
Shanahan, who has a reputation for revolving running backs, was also impressed.
“We told him he was a first-round pick and that we would give him a play, but he’d have to make it into the end zone if he was going to make [the team],” Shanahan said after practice. “He’s pretty quick, too. I asked Bruce [Allen] if we could sign him to a two-year contract instead of [one day].”
Brock, who was being filmed as part of the 8th annual ESPN “My Wish” series airing in August, ended the practice surrounded by applauding Redskins players. He went home with a signed football, stories to tell his friends and memories to last forever.
Also, unlimited candy.