Popular Redskin Chris Cooley talks playing with RGIII, superbowl hopes and his love of the Caps.
By Laura Wainman
With the Washington Redskins clinching their first NFC East title since 1999, and securing a playoff game, talk in the District has been dominated by Skins questions for Sunday’s game. Can we defeat the tough Seattle defense? Will RGIII be playing with the brace? And will the beloved number 47 make an appearance on the field? Tight end Chris Cooley was released from the Redskins this August to the great dismay of fans, only to be resigned in late October after Fred Davis suffered a season-ending injury. Though he hasn’t seen as much playing time this season as in past seasons, Cooley has become somewhat of a local icon, due in large part to his active position in the community and the fierce Washington loyalty he exhibited this fall. Washington Life caught up with the affable player to discuss his thoughts on the season, where he can be spotted around town and how he wound up proposing to another man’s girlfriend.
Washington Life: It was great to see you back in a Skins jersey this season. How has it felt to be back with the team?
Chris Cooley: It’s been great and exciting to be back in the locker room. I love going to work every day.
WL: You made it very clear this fall that you only wanted to play for the Redskins, even though you had other offers. That kind of loyalty is rare these days, so tell us, why Washington?
CC: Nothern Virginia has become my home. I own an art gallery here, my family is here and a lot of what I want to be doing going forward is in Washington. The Redskins were the only team I’ve ever cared about playing for, and I didn’t need to go anywhere to prove anything.
WL: What has it been like to play with Robert Griffin III?
CC: He is unreal. He blows me away with how he handles everything he does, and does it well. I think the very best thing about him is that he genuinely believes he is friends with everyone, and he cares about people. He doesn’t do anything just to help himself, but really wants to be around the people he is with.
WL: With your Leesburg home on the market, where are you considering moving?
CC: I want a house that feels like a home, where I can have kids. I’m looking for something around where I am now, maybe even building something that I want. I have creative tastes in what I want, and suburban houses all look the same. I don’t want that.
WL: Would you ever live in the District?
CC: I don’t think so. Right now I can get to anything I really want without having to deal with traffic. I like the feel of living in the country, but being close enough to the city. Maybe it would be fun to do city living for a year. but not long term. I need my space. But I’ve never tried it, so I can’t knock it too much.
WL: Outside of FedEx Field, what is your favorite Washington stadium?
CC: Verizon Center for Caps games. Nats stadium is awesome to watch a ballgame, too, but the best atmosphere is watching the Caps. And I never really watched hockey before.
WL: Do you have an idea of what you will do post football?
CC: I am still asking myself that, and it is coming down to as many things as I can do. I just want to enjoy what I do. I have been presented with opportunities in the media, which I think would be cool because it keeps me involved in sports and football.
WL: You own an art studio in Leesburg that features your own pottery and other artists’ work. Tell us how you got in to pottery.
CC: I’ve always been interested in all art, and was really close to becoming art teacher before I went to the NFL. Watching people create things with their own hands impresses me. When I first came to the Washington area I bought a potting wheel, and I just couldn’t get the hang of it. Then I found out the wheel was spinning backwards, and once I had fixed it, it was like a light when off and I said “holy cow, I can do this, and do it well.” For me it isn’t some soothing, relaxing activity. I love that it is active and that I am creating something that I can look at and say I did that, I made it. I like pottery because it happens fast. I can draw pretty well, too, but I don’t have the patience for it.
WL: Do you have a favorite local restaurant and what do you order when you go?
CC: I think The Wine Kitchen is the best place to eat, and I’m there a couple times a week. My order is different every time. I’m also a steak guy, and I love Morton’s and Ruth’s Chris. The first time I ever came to DC I went to Morton’s with Joe Gibbs, and I had never been to a place fancier than Ruby Tuesday’s or spent more than $15 on a meal. We didn’t have that growing up. It was quite a dinner.
WL: What’s your signature drink?
CC: Beer. Any kind of beer. I asked for a case of beer in my contract this year, and I didn’t get it. Next thing I know PBR has sent me 30 cases of beer, and T-shirts. I guess I’m a PBR guy right now.
WL: What is the strangest request you’ve ever gotten from a fan?
CC: I proposed to a woman for another man. I was sweaty and in my pads at training camp when I did it, and I thought it was way strange, but of course I wanted to do it. She said yes.
WL: What are your daily reads?
CC: I do the USA Today crossword puzzle every day to start my day.
WL: What’s the most played song on your iPod right now?
CC: I’m not sure about song, but the new Fun CD is the most played by far at the moment.
WL: For all of the die-hard Skins fans out there, can you let us in on when we can expect a Redskins superbowl victory?
CC: We want it now, and the best thing about the NFL is that anyone can win any year. We could still win it. Our team is playing well this year, and we are a young team on top of that. I wouldn’t be surprised if you see this team as a constant playoff team for the next five to 10 years.