Ryan Totolo, a die-hard Redskins fan living in Orlando, attended Sunday’s game in Tampa Bay with his dad, Chris. Before kickoff at Raymond James Stadium, Totolo entered a raffle to win a Publix gift card. He didn’t think much of it until he received a call informing him that he had been chosen to participate in Publix’s on-field football toss promotion during the second quarter.
When Totolo reported to the designated staging area decked out in Redskins shoes, burgundy and gold striped socks, Redskins shorts and a Chris Cooley Redskins jersey, the woman organizing the promotion was concerned.
“I wanted to throw the footballs, so I said, ‘Give me a Bucs T-shirt or something, we’ll work it out,'" Totolo said in a phone interview on Wednesday. Totolo assured the woman that he was “a big Bucs guy,” and she agreed to let him participate, provided he wear a Publix-branded Buccaneers jersey.
“All the while I’m thinking to myself, ‘If I win this, this jersey’s coming off,’” Totolo said.
Totolo won. The Buccaneers jersey came off, revealing Chris Cooley’s familiar No. 47. Captain Fear, the Buccaneers' mascot, pretended to stab Totolo with his sword as the victorious impostor danced around the 10-yard line in his Captain Chaos jersey. Totolo high-stepped his way to the end zone pylon and offered his take on Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger’s “two spoons” celebration.
“The lady was not happy,” said Totolo, who was greeted with loud cheers when he returned to his seat. “Our section was loaded with Redskins fans. Honestly, it felt like it was half-and-half, Skins-to-Bucs, at least in my section and the section next to me. It was awesome."
Perhaps no one appreciated Totolo’s stealthy move more than Cooley himself, who witnessed it live and mentioned it on his “Cooley at the Park” podcast on Monday.
“Two guys in Tampa jerseys come out,” Cooley explained to his guest, Redskins president of business operations Brian Lafemina. “The guy who wins it finishes it off, and as soon as he wins it, rips his Tampa Bay jersey off and he’s got a Cooley jersey on, and he starts spoon feeding himself. Woo! Woo! Woo! Woo! Wearing my jersey, man. Hey guy, if you ever listen to the podcast [tweet at] @thecooleyzone. If you’ve got the video, tweet me the video. That was amazing. You are awesome. You want to come to D.C.? I’ll hook you up with tickets and field passes, guy, whoever you are. That was incredible. I wasn’t paying much attention, and then afterwards, I saw this guy dancing in a Cooley jersey, and I was like, ‘How did I not notice this guy come out on the field in my jersey?’ How amazing is that?”
As it turns out, Totolo listens to Cooley’s podcast all the time. He said he hadn’t yet had a chance to listen to Monday’s episode when he received a text message from a friend on Tuesday morning asking Totolo to call him. It was urgent. Totolo muted the teleconference he was on and called his friend, who just couldn’t wait to let him know that Cooley had mentioned him on his podcast.
“At my age, Cooley was like a childhood hero,” Totolo, 30, said. “He was the guy. Him and Sean Taylor. So for him to mention me on the pod, I was like, ‘You’re kidding me, right?’”
Totolo, who asked a Redskins fan sitting in his section to record the contest and ensuing celebration, tweeted the video at Cooley on Wednesday morning.
“This is all time awesome man,” Cooley replied. “Thanks.”
Totolo and his dad were already planning to attend the Redskins' game at Jacksonville in December. Now there’s a trip to FedEx Field, including field passes compliments of Chris Cooley, in their future.
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