Not long before the Redskins made their first selection at this year’s NFL draft, a television producer came to Jesse Edwards and beckoned him over to a better location for the cameras.
Edwards wasn’t the only Redskins fan at Radio City Music Hall. But he had VIP passes after winning an NFL.com contest, which earned him three days in New York, plus a hotel room and airfare. So with the other Washington fans unable to make it to the front, the 29-year old in the Deion Sanders jersey suddenly had an awesome duty: To speak for all Redskins fans after Washington’s selection.
Unfortunately, Edwards’s speech turned into an anguished howl. London Fletcher announced the team was taking linebacker Trent Murphy, and Edwards stared into the cameras in disbelief while shrieking about Morgan Moses.
“Without even meaning to I was like: ‘What? Morgan Moses, that’s who we needed to get,’ ” recalled the 29-year old fan, who was raised near Ashburn and now lives in Warrenton. “I kind of do my own mock draft, and I didn’t even look at that guy. Our linebacker corps, with all the guys we got in free agency, was set. I was looking at Cyrus Kouandjio or Morgan Moses.”
And so Edwards released his frustration in one wide-eyed burst. Then he went back to his seat and got into a playful argument with some Panthers fans about who would wind up with Moses, the University of Virginia product. Edwards knew he had been on a live feed inside Radio City Music Hall, but it wasn’t until a nearby Jaguars fan showed him an SB Nation blog item that Edwards realized his rant made it onto ESPN, and that he was now Internet famous.
Why was Edwards so passionate about Moses? Well, as noted, he thought linebacker was not a position of need. Like many fans, he’s most concerned about the offensive line; “RGIII is the guy we’re supposed to be protecting,” he said. Plus, his brother lives near Charlottesville, and they saw Moses live in action three or four times last season. (Edwards is a JMU fan, but chooses the Cavs over the Hokies if pushed.)
Still, he’s a die-hard Redskins fan with plans to go to training camp in Richmond, and he’s already worried about running into Murphy, whose draft moment will now forever be linked with the video of an anguished fan.
“I thought about that afterwards,” he told me. “I feel bad about making it seem like I didn’t want Trent Murphy. But if I had to do it again, I’d probably react exactly the same way. … I’m afraid to see [Murphy]. If he recognizes me, I don’t want him to throw me into the wall.”
Anyhow, the amazing thing is, everything worked out. The Redskins wound up taking Moses with their next pick. Edwards was posted up near an interview area; when Moses came over he struck up a conversation.
“When he turned and looked my way I was like, ‘I got on TV for you,’ ” Edwards said. “[Moses] said I know, I saw you on ESPN.”
They posed for a photo. Moses signed his hat and said he couldn’t wait to come to Washington, that he would always have time for his Redskins fans. Bucky Brooks of NFL.com asked Edwards why he cared so deeply about Moses. SportsCenter featured that wacky reaction. And when Edwards eventually wandered out into the city later that weekend — still in a Redskins jersey — his 15 minutes were percolating. A bus driver recognized him. So did two cab drivers. And random strangers in Times Square asked if he was the manic fan from ESPN.
“After 13 years of trying to be an actor and a model, I get famous for being a crazy Redskins fan,” he said with a laugh.
And so what would he say if he actually does encounter Trent Murphy at some point, and the linebacker asks about that fateful reaction?
“I would apologize, I’d say ‘I’m sorry, I do want you on the team,’ ” Edwards said. ” ‘But if I had my pick, I’d take Moses over you every time.’ “