Redskins rookies and the Albert Haynesworth skit
During last year's training camp, there were plenty of photos featuring Redskins veterans hazing Redskins rookies. Often, the ringleader was Albert Haynesworth, who delighted in tying the kids to goalposts or to each other and spraying them with water and Gatorade. And this year?
"As far as hazing goes, there's zero amount of hazing in any way shape or form," Chris Cooley told me.
Instead, there have been rookie skits. The team held meetings at 7 or so during camp, and before tackling the serious stuff, Mike Shanahan often invited rookie players or coaches to the front of the room.
"We want to be entertained," he would tell the crowd, more or less. "Come up and entertain us."
And there have been plenty of entertaining moments. Assistant coach Richmond Flowers dressed up as the Bikini Girl fan, putting "Cooley Crush" on his belly, with a heart and the number 47. Offensive line assistant Matt Applebaum put together a Redskins Lookalikes slideshow, starring Edwin Williams as Beetlejuice, Chris Samuels as a hammerhead shark, Lou Spanos and Jim Haslett as the Ambiguously Gay Duo, and Haynesworth as a cartoon burglar holding bagfuls of money. Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach Chad Englehart, who does room checks at night, recreated a scene he encountered one night when he found LaRon Landry doing push-ups in his room to slow jams.
But the peak of the form, most players agreed, came when three rookie offensive linemen teamed together to recreate Albert Haynesworth's first conditioning test. Trent Williams was Strength & Conditioning Coach Ray Wright, Erik Cook was Englehart, and Selvish Capers was Albert Haynesworth. Take it away, storytellers.
Capers: "We just decided to do it. Nobody had done it. I guess you could say we just felt like opening a can of worms, I guess."
Trent Williams: "It wasn't my idea. I added a couple perks in here and there. I was playing Ray the strength coach, I put on a little visor cap, tried to act like him, put something on my nose, trying to simulate his look."
Terrence Austin: "He had done the first half [of the conditioning test] already, supposedly, and he comes in and they're like 'Ok, you're ready for the next one?' He's like, 'Oh yeah, I've got to go to the restroom.'
Cooley: "He ran out the door, they held up a sign that said 10 minutes later, and then he walked back in."
London Fletcher: "Who told you that? That's locker room stuff. We don't talk about it."
Austin: "He comes back out of the restroom, they're like 'C,mon you ready to do it?' And he's limping, and they were like man what's the matter, and he's like man I hurt my knee taking a [....]."
Casey Rabach: "It was [flipping] awesome. I mean, it was the story of camp up to that point. He looked good, too, he looked like him, and he hurt his knee taking a [....]. I mean, it happens I guess, right?"
Austin: "He played out Albert the whole way. He looked just like him, he wore a hat, he actually got down his walk, walked just like he does."
Will Robinson: "We were all like, whoa, look at that walk. He had the walk down and everything."
Cooley: "Selvish didn't even have to speak in his skit. He just put on a Haynesworth jersey and a fake mustache and walked around. Albert's a pretty quiet guy anyway, so it wasn't like he had to do much."
Capers: "The song we played when we walked in was called Plenty Money by Plies. [Haynesworth] liked the song, I guess, and then the next day he was lifting weights to the song. He enjoyed it, I think. It was cool though. No hard feelings around here."
Austin: "We actually talked about it, a lot of people were a little worried about doing it because they didn't know if it was gonna cause any controversy, but Albert was cool with it. He thought it was pretty funny, and it really was funny."
Trent Williams: "I mean, everybody knows it's all in fun."
Robinson: "I mean, you've got to laugh at yourself. That's the best part. Everyone gets made fun of. We just laugh at ourselves."
Cooley: "[Haynesworth] was laughing. He has a good sense of humor. It wasn't a big deal."
Mike Shanahan: "In fact, Albert laughed more than anybody when they were doing Albert. You've got to be able to laugh at yourself."
Anyhow, that's the story. There were no end-of-camp incidents on Thursday, no final skits, because everyone wanted to go home. I did ask Chris Cooley what sort of hazing he was subjected to as a rookie.
"I sang Adam Sandler's 'At a Medium Pace,' " he told me. "I got a lot of blank stares. From anyone who knew it, roars of laughter, which was mostly the white guys. And then most of the black guys on the team were like don't haze him any more. He's done. He did his part."
(I also asked Shanahan about his encouraging these skits.
"Basically what they do is make fun of coaches," he cracked. "No, it's kind of fun. Everybody gets up and they think of something that they can do to entertain the troops. It might be making fun of a coach or a player. It's all in fun, but they've got to get up and speak in front of the team, and a lot of time the young guys, it's very tough fort them to do that. Veteran players, a little bit easier, but to me it kind of loosens the guys up a little bit and kind of brings the team together. It's been fun through the years, and I think they're enjoying them."
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