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Smoot and Hall on Lobbying Congress

"The most effective anti-depressant in the history of the world is sweat," Rep. Zach Wamp was saying this afternoon.

Wamp and his brothers in suits--including Senator Tom Harkin--were gathered on a rainy stretch of lawn to promote the FIT Kids Act, requiring all sorts of folks to report on students' physical activity in an effort to combat childhood obesity. A handful of NFL players were on hand to promote this effort via jumping jacks and running in place. The cheerleaders, meanwhile, were promoting the effort by showing how much money you can save on fabric if you're physically fit.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank had an entourage that included by far the largest Falcons owner I've ever seen, and a speech in which he said we need to apply the same sense of urgency we feel about the economic collapse toward combatting childhood obesity. After I finished trying to make jokes about jumbo mortgages, I found Fred Smoot, who was lecturing a TV camera about how "your body is your temple" when I found him.

Does Smoot frequently visit the Hill? Once every 10 days or so in the offseason, he said, which wasn't the answer I was expecting.

"You know, I'm a business man," he said. "Plus I've got my guy congressman Bennie Thompson down here from Mississippi, so I always come down and visit him. Then I'm always with Darrell [Green], and Darrell's always down here, so this is a place I'm very much used to....I've got a couple business partners, lawyers. They'll call me, 'Come down here, go to the restaurant, have a little dinner or something.' "

So, the secret to success on the Hill?

"You've got to have personality," Smoot said. "You've got to be a peoples' person. You've got to know how to fit in, in between. You've just got to know how to mix it up, be a good mixer."

DeAngelo Hall was trying to be a good mixer, taking the mic to address the crowd of media and interest groups and Congressional aides. He said he's trying himself to keep his kids away from video games and fast food.

"I mean, I'm not running for Senate or nothing like that," he told me after his speech, "but it's definitely an avenue I might try to pursue later, 20-some years down the road. I think I can get up there and fight for something I believe in. You know, I think we all can. You've just got to hit the right spot."

On this day, for me, the right spot was bracket talk. So I asked Smoot who he was picking.

"Mississippi State is in the big dance, so I'm Mississippi State, Mississippi State and Mississippi State," Smoot said. Wait, to win?

"Mississippi State," he said. "Now if I'm filling out my own bracket, I want Mississippi State, and in a perfect world they win, but I've got my other picks. How I fill out my bracket? Of course I look at the coaches. I need to know who coaching what team. I need to know who got a point guard. I need to know who got a squad. See, that's why I'm going Memphis.

"I'm going Memphis. Know why? Two reasons: Great coach, and they've got a chip on their shoulder from last year. Everybody forgetting about this. Everybody forgetting about this."

Derrick Rose?

"Don't matter," Smoot said. "They a better defensive team without him."

And Hall? "My wild card is Memphis," he said. "I've got Memphis."

Look, it was better than quoting more fitness experts about how "exercise is fertilizer for the brain."

By Dan Steinberg  |  March 19, 2009; 2:58 PM ET
Categories:  Redskins  
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Shox XT

Posted by: jp2506 | March 19, 2009 11:28 PM | Report abuse

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