Fred Smoot's Nicknames
(Sorry, I just couldn't figure out how to shorten this. I realize that there are a maximum of two people who will read this all the way till the end. Maybe you can skim or something?)
Remember a few weeks back when I wrote a story for the newspaper about how Fred Smoot calls Shaun Suisham "Shazam!"? And how, at the time, Smoot told me he has nicknames for every member of the Redskins over the past seven years? And how he offered to give me the rundown one day?
Well, yesterday I tried to collect on that promise. But first, I saw Smoot receiving some golf passes for having recently appeared on a radio show. Smoot, a golfer? "Best golfer on the team," he said. "What????" asked Rock Cartwright, overhearing. "I want to see that," Khary Campbell said.
Another fruitful line of inquiry, but I wanted to stay on task. Nicknames, nicknames.
"Stache, help me with everybody's nickname," Smoot said to Khary Campbell. "He want to know everybody nickname. He's 'Stache,' " he began, pointing at Campbell. "Robert Royal's 'Screwface.' "
"Man, you got to watch a movie to know why his name 'Screwface,' " Smoot said.
"Betts," Campbell suggested.
"His name's 'Butts,' " Smoot said. "Buttocks," he added, explaining.
"Don't believe that," Betts said from nearby.
"Laron's name 'Whoa,' " Smoot said, at which point this became one of the great sports interviews of the modern era. I'm gonna save this tape for a while. This is an exact transcript:
"What's that?" I said.
" 'Whoa,' " Smoot said.
"Who?" I said.
" 'Whoa,' " Smoot said. "That's his name, 'Whoa,' "
"Who's 'Whoa?' " I said.
"LaRon Landry," Smoot said. " 'Whoa.' Just like, 'Whoa!' "
Chris Samuels arrived, laughing. "There's 'Big Pro,' " Smoot said. "That's Chris name, 'Big Pro.' "
"Rock," someone else suggested.
"Rock named 'Gotti,' " Smoot said.
"Why Gotti?" I asked.
"I don't know," Smoot said. "Hey, you don't pick your nickname, your nickname pick you."
"Wait," I interrupted, "I thought that you give everyone their nicknames?"
"I do," he said, "but it just...."
"What about Yoder?" suggested Stache.
"Todd Yogurt," Smoot said. "Yeah, we call him 'Yogurt.' It's really like 'Yoda' off of Star Wars, so we call him 'Yo.' "
"I thought you said you call him 'Yogurt?' " I asked.
" 'Yogurt,' yeah," Smoot agreed.
" 'Yogurt' and 'Yoda?' " I asked.
"Yeah, depends on how I'm feeling that day," Smoot said. "Then of course you've got Shawn 'Blue Foot,' that's already went international."
This nickname for Shawn Springs, I suppose, I should have known, since it was already in The Post, but I didn't, and I asked for some explanation.
"Because he's so black, he's blue," Smoot said to much laughter. "Don't 'Blue Foot' fit him?"
And in what way, I wondered, had it gone international?
"Cause everyone on every team call him 'Blue Foot,' " Smoot said. I expressed surprise that I hadn't known this.
"That's because you the press," Smoot said. "We don't like y'all. We football players, we keep our stuff in-house."
"They with you when you're doing well," Samuels said, turning this into a media criticism session.
"Yeah, but then they hatin' on you when you doing bad," Smoot said.
"Tearing us up," Samuels added.
"Like you ain't know that [losses] were going to come one day," Smoot continued. "Like, 'Ooooh,' you were so surprised--'Y'all done lost! How could you!?!?' Last team to go undefeated was the Miami Dolphins."
We needed to get back on track. Nicknames, nicknames.
"Ok," I said, "Why is LaRon 'Whoa?' "
"Because he's from Louisiana," Smoot said. "And when you go down to Louisiana, see, they usually say 'Whoadie,' but then down South we'll cut it off and say 'Whoa.' "
"For water?" I said, attempting to establish my Western New York creds.
"For Whoadie," Smoot said. "See, you don't know nothing."
"It's just like saying 'dude,' like, 'Hey dude, hey man, hey bro,' " Pierson Prioleau explained, taking pity on me.
"See, I can't tell you all the nicknames, because I be just explaining the nicknames to you all day," Smoot said.
"Mike Sellers is 'Big Mike 44,' " Stache said, and yeah, he said 44.
" 'Big Barbeque,' " Samuels added for Sellers.
"This is called 'Big Butt Crack' right here," Smoot said, gesturing toward a naked Todd Wade.
"Leigh Vester," Campbell suggested.
"Yeah, Leigh Torrence, his name's 'Leigh Vester' (?)" Smoot said. I asked why.
"See, he asks 'Why?' too much," Smoot complained. "He asks me to tell him everybody's nickname, but after every nickname he asks me why."
"You know what, you've ever seen that movie [Roots]?" Prioleau asked. "Like Kunta Kinte, where the people go out there and the names just drop down out of the sky?"
"They just drop," Smoot agreed. 'You don't know why."
Suisham had, by now appeared at his locker, next to Smoot. I asked about "Shazam!"
"I have no reason why," Smoot said. "The true reason I named him is because I didn't know how to pronounce his name in the first damned place."
I asked about Frosty. "Who?" Smoot asked back. "Frost, he's the punter on this team," I said. "No, Frost ain't got a nickname," Smoot said. "I know Frost. I know Frost. I know every player on the Redskins. I'm probably the only player we've got over here, I conversate with every player in here."
I asked about Jimmy Farris, the new guy. "I don't know him," Smoot admitted. Someone else said his nickname was Paul Wall, and Smoot said he had indeed heard that one already. I asked how to spell Paul Wall.
"You don't know nothing," Smoot said. "You know what you need to do? You need to go on BET.com, do your research. I've got 12 movies you need to watch, too, that's the only way I can bring you up to par. It's 2007. Seven. Here's what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna write you a list of 15 movies. You watch these movies. I'm gonna give you three or four Web sites to go to. And then, by three weeks, you should be brought up to par on today's talk and why people do stuff."
Still, believe it or not, I persisted. I asked about Sean Taylor.
" 'Dot,' " Smoot said. Dot?
"Just 'S Dot,' " Smoot said. "Everybody call him 'S Dot.' Because, if you know, Jay-Z, the rapper, he goes by 'S Dot Carter' sometimes. Both of 'em named Sean. So now we call Sean 'S Dot Taylor.' "
There must have been a blank look on my face.
"I see right now," Smoot said, "you don't really know nothing about what you're trying to find out," which was absolutely true. Still, he came up with one more for me.
"We call Jason [Campbell] 'Lionel Richie,' " he said. "I guess you don't know who Lionel Richie is?"
I insisted that I did. "Well," Smoot said, "look at Jason and tell me they don't look like twins. You gotta think sometimes. You've got to think for yourself: 'What would I name this guy?' " He walked off. But Campbell was still hanging around the dressing room, and he confirmed that his teammates do indeed call him 'Lionel Richie.'
"You know what?" he said. "If I can make the money he makes singing, I'm all for it."
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