Bobby Turner's sweatsuits
When Redskins camp opened last week, it wasn't the sort of Washington summer day that feels like you're taking a hot shower inside a wood-fired pizza oven inside a sauna inside a steel mill inside a volcano inside hell. But it was still late July in Ashburn, and just about every normal person within a few miles of Redskins Park's unshaded practice fields was wearing short pants and short sleeves.
New running backs coach Bobby Turner was wearing sweatpants and a long-sleeve sweatshirt. Which he's proceeded to wear every day since.
"You hitting below the belt right now, [that's] one thing that I'm sensitive about, ok?" Turner said, when I asked about his outfit. "A lot of people think it's the wife and kids, which is true, but [for me] it's my attire. It's my sweatsuit."
Turner said he did the same thing for 15 years in Denver. (What else did he do in Denver? During those 15 seasons, the Broncos led the NFL in rushing and total yards, produced six different 1,000-yard backs, finished top-five in the NFL in rushing 10 times, and had 105 different individual 100-yard games.) Players, coaches and media members around the Broncos used to kid Turner about his obliviousness to heat, until they finally got bored by the topic.
"After so long, they just left me alone," Turner told me. "They said 'Hey, we got on this guy, and we never even fazed him.' "
So why does he do it? Well, there are actually steel mills involved. Turner, who grew up in Indiana, was the oldest of 13 children. He said he "never asked my parents for anything." He also said he was looking for a good way to stay in football shape, without the sort of organized offseason activities available now, while earning a bit of pocket change. So, like any normal college kid, he'd work double shifts, 16 hours at a time, in steel mills. That gave him a taste for heat.
"Anybody will tell you, it's never too hot for me," Turner said. "It's a mindset. I'm teasing, and I know what you guys are gonna think about it, that I've lost it, which is fine. People thinking that guy's got to be out of his mind, it's 115 out there, it's humid, etc., he's really not on. That's ok. I'm ok with that. This is my deal."
There's also a slightly more practical side to this. Redskins Park, like many office buildings, has a fierce air-conditioning system. Turner said "from the time I get in this office, there's something" to do, and he doesn't feel like having to change clothes before going onto the field. So the sweatsuit works as inside-outside apparel. Still, he stands out.
"The other thing is, I've always been my own person," he said. "I just do it because it's just me."
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