LaRon Landry on turkeys, D.C. and his injury
There are a lot of community-service type events involving pro athletes this time of year, and it's impossible to get to all of them. On Tuesday alone, there were at least three Turkey-themed Redskins events, in three different locations.
But a few things convinced me to head to LaRon Landry's turkey giveaway: It was in the District, it was held in conjunction with the very Wisconsin Avenue Whole Foods store where I got my start as an assistant cheese buyer, and it gave me a chance to ask an NFL player about watching football with his pet monkey.
"Yeah, he watched," Landry said, when I wondered whether his monkey Gucci joined him in watching the Redskins beat the Titans on Sunday. "He scratched his head the whole time."
Landry - who was, of course, sidelined with an Achilles' tendon injury on Sunday - wore a walking boot on his left foot during the event, but he still hobbled all over the King-Greenleaf Recreation Center in Southwest D.C. to pose for photos. The safety finished his last game, against the Eagles, and said "if I start a game, I'm gonna finish it." Still, Coach Mike Shanahan said there was a 98 percent chance he'd miss Sunday's meeting with the Vikings, and Landry agreed with that estimate.
"You can see it right here man. You can answer your question," he said, gesturing to the boot, when I asked about this weekend. "I'll go for a 98 percent chance of not playing and 2 percent chance of being there, just for you to think about it....It's an injury that's been lingering around for a minute. It should be rested. The procedures I'm doing and undergoing just to play, it's not working any more, so the trainers and the coaches came up with the decision to rest me."
I asked whether there was a chance the injury could end his season.
"Don't even say that," he said. "I'm hoping I'll be back [Wednesday]. We're just taking it a day at a time, a treatment at a time and hope for the best.It's very hard just to watch guys play. I'm part of that family, and not being a part of that family, having to sit back and watch it on TV is kind of hard."
Tuesday's event was run through Landry's foundation, which was founded within the past year. Landry bought 100 turkeys, and various friends contributed another 150, totaling more than 2,500 pounds of bird. Whole Foods donated pies, cider, mashed potatoes, gravy and green bean casseroles. Landry - teaming with the Sasha Bruce Youthwork organization, which works with D.C. teenagers - also recently bought 70 jerseys for youth basketball teams that play at that rec center; the teams had been using hand-me-down pinnies from a midnight basketball league.
Like almost all of his teammates, Landry lives in the Virginia suburbs, but he goes to a barbershop in Anacostia, and said it wasn't an accident that his foundation has started working in D.C.
"I wanted to make a statement in the community down here in D.C.," he told me, saying the city reminded him of his native New Orleans. "Most guys take over the Virginia role, and I wanted to be one of those guys to give back where it's hardly ever given back to...Anything I can do to contribute. If I've got it to give, why not give? I hope I just make them happy."
At least two Cowboys fans were among those who accepted Landry's gifts; one shouted out "How 'bout them Cowboys!" as he walked out. "Don't start that," Landry countered. But others had Redskins pillows and Redskins umbrellas and Redskins jackets and Redskins hats, and there were lots of hugs and autographs.
"I don't always see the Redskins in my ward, so having LaRon come here means a lot," D.C. council member Tommy Wells said. "This is the kind of thing that tells you they're really the Washington Redskins."
As for Landry, he said he only mildly celebrated after Sunday's win, because "we've got a lot more games ahead of us, and playoffs." He said sitting on his couch "was real tough," because "being a critic, knowing my ability, knowing what I can do just to help the team win, I wish I could be out there fighting with them." He asked the DJ -- who played things like Teddy Pendergrass and the O'Jays -- to make him an MP3. And he said that he will be frying a turkey on Thursday, with the help of something called Tony Chachere's seasoning injection.
"I can throw down," he said of his kitchen skills. "Fry the turkey, macaroni, candied yams, everything. Meet me at my place."
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