Day 5, Flip Introduces 'Football Saturday'
RICHMOND -- Sam Cassell spotted Wizards Vice President of Player Personnel Milt Newton tossing a football with Nick Young and Dominic McGuire after practice on Saturday. Cassell, who said he played intramural football at Florida State, called for the ball.
"Hey, Milt," Cassell said, holding out his hands.
Cassell caught the ball, then fired a perfect spiral the length of the court to Young. If you're wondering what football has to do with the Washington Wizards, it has a lot to do with Coach Flip Saunders, who figured out a way to help his players breakout out of the malaise of another lengthy and grueling training camp practice.
"Today was one of those days that everyone came in and was working hard but you could see they was a little bit down," Randy Foye said. "Then, we thought we was going to do drills and they threw footballs at us."
Saunders split the players up into pairs and they spent the next few minutes running routes and throwing passes to each other. Cassell was paired with Gilbert Arenas. McGuire teammed up with Young and so on.
"It's football Saturday," Saunders said, "It's something that we used to do when I was in Detorit. Another way to get guys to concentrate, as far as catching the ball, running patterns, getting guys working on patterns. Another way to get guys loose."
Foye and Mike James were paired with each other and stood out the most, according to Saunders and several other players. "Randy and I, we looked like we played a lot of football," James said. "Everyone else looked like they played a lot of Madden."
James said that he played quarterback and defensive back in high school, but quit after breaking his wrist. "It was on a Friday," James said. "I handed my uniform in on a Monday and told the football coach, 'I wish you all the luck in the future. Don't you ever call my house again, looking for me to play. I don't care how good y'all may think I can get in this game.' I said, 'Mm, umh. I'm a basketball player."
Foye said he got compliments from his teammates after completing some pretty passes and showing some nice hands with the pigskin. "They said, you look so fluent throwing the ball and running patterns, catching the ball. I said, 'That's what I do,' " Foye said. "I used to play a little bit of football in high school, played Pop Warner and just growing up, football and baseball was really my first loves. But as I started to grow and as I started to play basketball and travel, I wanted to play basketball more."
McGuire was a high school quarterback at the same San Diego high school that produced Marcus Allen and Terrell Davis before eventually giving it up to play basketball. When told that McGuire was a good football player, James said, "Dom was struggling out there."
McGuire had an explanation. "The thing is, my receiver, which was Nick, he was kind of goofy and kept thinking he was going to run into stuff," McGuire said. "It's a big court. That messed me up."
But he added, "You got to ask everybody about the Randy Moss I caught over Nick. It was nice."
Young was asked who looked the best with the football. "Best quarterback was probably Randy, the best wide receiver was probably me. I'm going to go with myself," Young said, after admitting earlier that he dropped a few passes from McGuire.
Coach is unbelievable at getting us ready for practice, ready to go," Foye said. "Even though we had three hard practices in two-a-days, he threw the footballs out there to get us excited about doing this and to get us loose, to take our minds off of basketball for a little bit, then get right back into basketball."
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