Redskins vs. Ravens, in Paintball
These athlete charity eventss are supposed to be laid-back affairs, full of good-natured ribbing and jocular banter and perhaps some casual competition. Now listen to a few NFL players describe their mindset during Saturday's Baltimore vs. D.C. Celebrity Paintball Tournament.
"It was every man for himself at times, definitely full competition, nobody was letting up," Redskins DB Leigh Torrence told me.
"I had all the Afghanistan gear that I got from the troops: Desert Storm camouflage head to toe, black army boots, camouflage hat, everything," said Ravens tight end Daniel Wilcox, whose foundation organized the event to raise more than $6,000 for local summer enrichment programs. "I play everything to win. I don't care if I'm playing a 5-year-old kid in Madden, I'm going to play to win."
"It's like the chicken and the pig," explained Ravens cornerback Evan Oglesby, whose team--creatively named "Team 8"--won the championship. "The chicken lays an egg, that's all he sacrifices, but the pig lays out his whole life for the bacon. We was all pigs out there. We was giving our all, trying to win that tournament."
Still, from what I gather, all these competitors paled in comparison to Ravens All-Pro safety Ed Reed, whose team, the Mustangs, lost to Team 8 in the finals. Reed apparently considers himself something of a paintball all-star. His joie de paint impressed both the civilians and his fellow NFL'ers.
"Ed Reed is a serious dude," said Eric Davis, one of his teammates, who spends his days in the structured finance industry. "He was kind of like crawling around on the ground and everything."
"He thought he was really in a video game, diving all over the place, suicide-style," Torrence agreed.
"If you would have saw Ed Reed, I promise you would have fell out laughing," Wilcox told me, describing Reed sprinting down the middle of the course and diving full speed under a bunker, at which point his paint-ball gun popped open, scattering his colorful ammo everywhere. "Dude is intense," Wilcox continued. "He's as good a paintball player as he is on the football field. I'd love to have him on my team any time."
This event was supposed to be Baltimore vs. D.C., but a lot of the Redskins scattered during their offweek, so it wound up being mostly Baltimore. Torrence, the ringleader of the four-man Redskins contingent, pointed out that while his team lost its first two games it won its final three; "it's not how you start, but how you finish," he noted. Wilcox led his team to the brink of the finals, then joined up with Reed's Mustangs for an attempt at the trophy. But Oglesby and Team 8, which also featured rookie Troy Smith and became known as Team Anthrax, took home the title.
"We were patient, we had great communication, and we executed; just like football," Oglesby said proudly. "We were smaller than everybody, we just didn't look like a lethal team, but we ended up tearing the course up....I'm going to put the trophy in my locker."
(As long as we're giving free publicity to the players and their off-field endeavors, Leigh Torrence is running his 4th Down Fundamentals camp this month in Atlanta. Since his Web page links to the Redskins Insider, I'll gladly send a link back in his direction.)
The non-NFLer's also took this thing seriously, regardless of the 40-times or bench-press numbers of their more highly compensated opponents. For example, I asked Davis what it was like to play paintball against the Heisman Trophy winner.
"Who won the Heisman" he asked me. "Some of them are bigger than others; you kind of just want to hurry up and shoot them and get in your car and leave, get out of that area."
He was joking. By all accounts, the footballers made for excellent paintballing chums.
"They pulled the team together and made us actually feel like a team," said construction manager Phillip Meade, who won the championship with Oglesby's squad but didn't even know the cornerback's real name. "Once we stepped on the field I didn't see them as superstar players for the Ravens or anything. I just saw them as the guys standing in the way of my trophy."
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