DeAngelo Hall Has Tumbling Skills
Observers of Redskins practice this week saw DeAngelo Hall do at least two noteworthy things.
First off, he spent some time with the wide receivers, catching passes. "That was just something where I had a little bit of time, so they let me go ahead and do it," he said.
Later, he closed practice with a mini tumbling routine, which one TV reporter described as a round-off.
"Ex-gymnast," Hall explained to reporters, including my colleague Paul Tenorio. "That's something a lot of people don't know about me. So next question, if you want to ask a question about DeAngelo that's something a lot of people don't know, I used to be a gymnast."
See, this is something I didn't know. I wasn't the only one.
"You could do flips and all that stuff?" an impressed Doug Dutch asked. Others were less surprised.
"He flipped a couple days ago, showed me he can get up and go," Fred Smoot said. "Good athlete. I haven't tried it in about three years. I used to do it in practice all the time, [but] I'm getting older, I've got to keep all that energy."
Hall is the youngest of six children, and while he was already playing organized basketball at the age of 6, his mom wasn't ready for him to play football. So when it wasn't basketball season, she signed young DeAngelo up for gymnastics class. He specialized in the floor and the rings, went to competitions, the whole routine. Could he have been a star?
"I don't know, 15 years later, 10 years later, you never know," he said. "But it wasn't nothing I think I had a passion for. I had a passion for football."
Still, Hall probably knows more about gymnastics than your typical NFL player. He was a fan of the 1996 U.S. Olympic team--"Dominique Dawes, Shannon [Miller], [Dominique] Moceanu, all of them," he said. His son and daughter have both taken lessons. His wife was a college cheerleader, "so that was a great conversational piece when I was dating," he noted. "I would go out there and tumble with all the cheerleaders and whip their [tails], too."
Hall said the gymnastics background did nothing to help him in football; if he went on the rings now, he said, he could wrap around and dismount but not do anything crazy. Still, at least one man at Redskins Park was excited to hear about his athletic past.
"Awesome, that is awesome," Jim Zorn said. "It's total body strength. I surfed, and I speedskated, and I did a bunch of different things. I taught gymnastics in college, because I had a theory class. Were you a gymnast too?" he asked Jeremy Jarmon, who was sitting nearby.
"No," Jarmon said.
"When you're a senior, if you're a PA major, you take classes that force you to teach different sports, so if you had a tennis segment you had to teach a stroke and you had to prepare your lesson plan. So we had a gymnastics class, and we all had to learn how to do back handsprings and tricks on the high bar."
"Can you still do it?" Jarmon asked.
"No, I'm not much of an athlete any more," Zorn said. "Well, I can still play racquetball. I've been looking for a racquetball game."
"Do you play tennis?" Jarmon asked his coach. "I play tennis. I played in middle school. That's definitely how I improved my change of direction. My mom played in circuits in the city, and I would play with her and some other people. Australian doubles, baby."
Anyhow, when he was 10 or 11, Hall gave up gymnastics and soon concentrated on football, which worked out ok. He still likes to watch Olympic gymnasts, and he and his wife took a class for adults recently. So, I'm sure you're wondering, how is his tumbling nowadays?
"Not as good as it once was," Hall said.
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