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The Redskins Political Debate Club

An outspoken Obama supporter. (Courtesy NBC)

After the recent stories concerning Jim Zorn riding bikes with the president and Joe Gibbs addressing the Republican National Convention, you couldn't help but wonder whether the Redskins locker room was ideologically aligned with the GOP, West Coast offense or no West Coast offense.

"I wouldn't say that," Fred Smoot told me. "But it's a lot of Republicans in here. We have a lot of black Republicans in here, don't get it twisted."

And so I began asking a few of his teammates about the room's partisan split, without knowing that politics has become the team's hot-button issue in recent weeks.

Not in every corner of the room, of course--Carlos Rogers, for example, told me he's not paying much attention to the Presidential race. But others are very much invested in what's going on, and haven't been reluctant to discuss their opinions with teammates.

There have been passionate political debates in the weight room, conversations about personal responsibility and government aid and tax policy and upper-income tax breaks in front of the locker room stalls, and discussions about various convention speeches during warmup exercises on the practice field.

"You know, being in D.C., you're gonna talk about it a little bit," Marcus Washington said, which was actually understating the case.

"It's funny that you ask, because it's been a lot more this year than it's ever been in the past," Khary Campbell said. "A lot of what we talk about is more like values, you know what I mean? Not necessarily one candidate's point of view versus another, more into the values: what can be right, [and how] what's wrong to some might not be to others."

Campbell's corner of the locker room--which also includes Smoot and Lorenzo Alexander, among others--seems to be the center of the debates, which often draw in peripheral players.

"We've been arguing back and forth, guys that have different point of views," Alexander said. "We make a lot of money playing this game, but I think it's bigger than who's giving the biggest tax breaks. I mean, that's probably the main issue we're kind of arguing about: McCain or Obama, Republican or Democrat."

(They're not the only ones; if you haven't noticed, the comment section of the Redskins Insider has been lighting up with political arguments for weeks.)

I usually aim for flippancy, and while Randy Thomas jokingly asked if I could score him an Obama t-shirt, that wasn't the tone coming from most of the guys who spoke with me. Many were passionate about the topic but reluctant to be quoted too specifically on policy matters, explaining that they wanted to learn more and to think more before they took a definite stand. Included in that group was Smoot, who often drives the conversation, and not merely as a comedic foil.

"I don't know what his deal is right now, he's still undecided," fellow cornerback Leigh Torrence said of Smoot.

"The fact of the matter is, he makes some great points," Kedric Golston said.

Alexander and Torrence both identify themselves as independents who are supporting Obama in this campaign; "that's 'cause you went to Cal," a teammate heckled Alexander. Torrence, a Stanford grad and former intern on Capitol Hill and with the National Education Association, is leading a voter registration drive next week and hopes to enlist teammates as volunteers. He's one of the room's most vocal Obama backers, primarily for domestic policy reasons.

"You've got to speak up, especially at a time like now; I think we definitely need to see a change," he told me. "My number one issue is education, it's always been that. I know in the last four to eight years we've had a squeeze on after-school programs, No Child Left Behind not being fully funded. In some respects, that might put a bigger burden on America's tax base, but I think [they're] programs that are needed. Early childhood education, after school programs--there's no way you're going to bridge the education gap without those programs, so I'd like to see the government support them."

The former leader of the McCain voters. (TWP file photo by John McDonnell)

The room's most enthusiastic McCain backer, teammates said, was clearly ex-punter Derrick Frost, who once debated Torrence for nearly an hour in the weight room, according to a teammate.

"He was one of those guys I enjoyed talking to, but he really thought he had things figured out," said Campbell, who described Frost as a friend. "Everyone knew where Derrick Frost stood....He would sit there and try to convince you that however he interpreted [issues], however his beliefs were, is how you should be."

With Frost gone, other teammates--such as Smoot and Golston--have rhetorically tangled with Torrence and Alexander. But Smoot and Golston both said they're undecided and merely enjoy playing devil's advocate while exploring the issues.

"We have discussions, which we should," Golston said. "We have the same type of discussions as everybody does at the office. It's our job, so we talk about the same stuff anybody else talks about."

As for the locker room as a whole, "I think it's probably half and half," said Washington, who described himself as "kind of a free spirit" politically.

"Honestly, the locker room's pretty split," Torrence agreed. "It's an ongoing debate. A lot of guys haven't made their mind up yet."

"The guys that are registered to vote, that are planning on it, I think it's divided," added Campbell, who declined to discuss which way he's leaning but who has encouraged teammates to register. "I think right now it's not whether how many guys are Democrat versus Republican, it's how many guys are registered to vote. Because we can sit here and argue, and a lot of times guys are going back and forth, but they're not even registered to vote."

"You know, football guys are a little bit more than just athletes," Alexander said. "We've got other issues too."

"Just vote for what you believe in," Golston recommended. "That's all anyone should do."

By Dan Steinberg  |  September 12, 2008; 10:44 AM ET
Categories:  Redskins  
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Just another reason to be glad Derrick Frost got the boot.

Posted by: Jamie Mottram | September 12, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

To be fair, Derrick Frost didnt know Old Man River was going to choose the chick with a gun as his running mate.. She is a disaster..

Posted by: Matt Damon | September 12, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

NOW I support Vinny's decision to cut Frost.

Come to think of it, his performance as a kicker for the Redskins typified your average Republican:

*Self centered anti-intellectual who wants to sacrifice long term success for minimal gains in the short term

*Hot headed cry baby who can't control his emotions

*Instead of being personally accountable for his failures, he places the blame on "upper management" (the GOP uses the media as their scapegoat)

Posted by: Barack Obama for the USA | September 12, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Good rule of thumb - whether on the football field or in life. Ask, "what would Fred Smoot do?" and do the opposite.

Posted by: Stalk Much? | September 12, 2008 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Yes, Joe. I guess by following the Bible in your 2nd stint with the Redskins you ended up with only 1 playoff win, a losing record, and the death of your best player. NOT such a good example.

Maybe, just maybe, GOD has better things to worry about than football and your hypocritical Republican party.

Look, Joe, I love you, OK? You're my favorite coach of all time and you are the reason I'm a life long Redsksin fan.
But you better get off your high horse and stop pushing the reprehensible notion that God favors one political party over the other. You're making me sick!

Posted by: ENOUGH! | September 12, 2008 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Take it easy on Joe. Obviously he takes the whole thing very seriously. And any good Christian knows that Jesus would certainly be a member of the party who starts unnecessary wars, destroys the environment, favors big businesses, and takes away programs for the poor in favor of tax breaks for the very rich.

Oh, wait...

Posted by: bryc3 | September 12, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Oddly (but not by chance), the two candidate's stated positions on many of the issues is not as far apart as you might think.

But their stated positions are mere campaign promises, the real question is what will they do once elected.

Forget the media sideshows, the mud slinging and all the spin. And please save me from candidates preaching their "values."

As for me, I'll be voting for Hope not Fear. I'll me voting for smart solutions to complex world problems, not simplistic one-liners.

We've got to get beyond petty politics, the fate of our children hangs in the balance.

Posted by: stumped | September 12, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Wow whoever posted the Enough! post is just pathetic. I feel bad for you I bet you lead a very miserable life. Also ur going to have a lot of hate over the next 4 years b/c Mccain is going to win No Doubt

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

I love how the Stanford educated player is the biggest Obama supporter. He is clearly too high brow for us lowly non-Harvard of the West-educated peons. If he thinks he can use intelligence and common sense on me, SHAME ON HIM!

Posted by: JS in L'Enfant | September 12, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Been a while since a post but I wanted to also say WTF was up with Gibbs last week? I love the guy and he's the reason I'm a skins fan but comeon man!


Posted by: Franky4Fingers | September 12, 2008 1:04 PM | Report abuse

There shouldn't be any debate, period. The longer we sit around and debate, the more time the "evil doers" have to plot their "mushroom cloud" attacks, especially since they seem to "hate our freedom" so much.

"Islamofascism." "9-11." "Win." "God Bless ________."


Posted by: Charles F Mercer | September 12, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Heres to hoping Durant Brooks carries the McCain banner from now on.

And its nice to see Jamie posting his political opinions again after saying he wouldn't. Great job there Mottram!

Posted by: JDP | September 12, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Punting is what Republicans do best.

Posted by: Derrick Frost | September 12, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the Redskins should stick to trying to play football. Half of them are Republicans? I guess they don’t care about the fact that from most of the communities they grew up in, people are dying at early ages from kidney disease, diabetes, heart disease, mental illness, etc. because they don’t have health insurance. Only the healthy and wealthy, not the poor and the sick, have health insurance. They are also dying at an increased rate because Republicans have blocked gun control laws. But it seems all the Skins care about is reducing their taxes at the expense of their original communities going down the tubes. Have fun out there in Sterling and Ashburn. Couldn’t that tax money be used for better schools for inner city kids? I volunteered for 10 years for special needs kids and never once saw a Redskin show up at this particular activity. Take a lesson from champs like the Art Monk’s, the Darrell Green’s and the Charles Mann’s – give back to your community, chumps. I’m Coach Mike and I approved this message.

Posted by: Mike Frandsen | September 13, 2008 10:07 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Zinal | September 15, 2008 6:59 AM | Report abuse

Come on America,, its the same thing all over again. We have serious troubles; wars (2), economic disasters (lehman bro, Bear Sterns, Merril l., Fannie M & Freddie M., unemployment,ETC ETC Health Care, Etc. As an American first ~ Please, we need to come together or we will certainly continue to spiral downhill in the face of the rest of the world. The ability to end the dividing lines seperating and causing in-country bickering has got to stop or we are doomed!!!! Divided we fall, united we stand. Wake up ~ its not the same world our forefathers invisioned!!!!!! Never seen so many christians with so much hate!!!!!

Posted by: jeff haley | September 15, 2008 9:46 AM | Report abuse

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