My favorite player on the Washington Redskins is not the typical RG3 or Alfred Morris-like revered superhero in DC. In ten years watching the ‘Skins every game, the player I have grown most accustomed to is perhaps the most controversial player on the team. I am posting this now because it just recently occurred to me who my favorite player on the team was, and it surprised me. On the surface, I never would have thought my favorite Redskin would be DeAngelo Hall.
Hall is my favorite Redskin because game in and game out, Hall is the player that cares the most. Obviously he isn’t perfect and I admit he’s had some ugly moments, but just about every single one could be attributed to caring too much about the team. Throughout sports history the players who seem to care a little too much are often among the most admired and popular with the fans. Whether it is Michael Jordan, Kirk Gibson or Ronnie Lott, the players who sacrifice the most are often the most liked. This is because paying fans want to see their favorite players care. We want to be reassured that their financial and emotional investments in their team are for a reason, that us as fans are not being completely used by the athletes. We want our team to mean as much or more to the players than it does to us. For some reason, Hall never gets credits for leaving it all on the field every Sunday, while others are praised for it. In fact he is, if anything condemned for being overly competitive. The incident in Pittsburgh last year, while certainly regrettable, fired me up at the time because Hall seemed to be the only one on the team who was affected by the team’s lackluster play that day. And for a player with a reputation as a knucklehead, Hall has never had any sort of legal or substance abuse problem. Other overly competitive superstars get labeled as leaders and team players while Hall gets labeled as an asshole that doesn’t know right from wrong and can’t control himself.
DeAngelo does have a big temper, but I would rather have a player who cares too much about his team and lets it show than a guy like Albert Hayensworth who clearly doesn’t give a shit about the team. In addition, I would argue that Hall’s struggles with his temper make him more relatable. Robert Griffin III is portrayed as being almost godlike and divine. This is nice and I love Robert as much as the next guy, but players like Hall, who have some imperfections are more realistic and easier to relate to and understand. DeAngelo hall may not be "the face of the franchise" but he is one of the most passionate, prideful, gutsy and competitive players out there, and because of this I am willing to accept his shortcomings.
Hall is not just an overly competitive player, he is a true Redskin. Hall loves playing with the team and even took significantly less money to stay with the Redskins- after the team had just cut him. Hall as always been the one guy on the redskins who I felt cared the most about not only winning, but also winning specifically for the fan base and the city. Hall doesn’t just want a ring, he wants a ring for the Redskins, and that is what makes me adore him so much. He has now evolved into a wily veteran and terrific leader for the young guys in the secondary.
Another thing I love about Hall is the way he always steps up in big games. Last year he played terrific down the team’s stretch run to the postseason culminating in a masterpiece of a week 17. When the ‘Skins and the Boys faced off on Sunday Night Football for the NFC East Championship and the right to go to the playoffs, Dez Bryant was the hottest receiver in football. Over his last seven games, Bryant had accumulated 46 catches for 808 yards and 10 touchdowns including a 224-yard game the week before against New Orleans. Hall shut him down, limiting him to just 4 catches for 71 yards and no touchdowns. Hall backed up that performance a couple weeks ago, limiting Bryant to 5 receptions for only 36 yards and no TD’s. In the Seahawks playoff game last year, Hall covered a combination of Sidney Rice and Golden Tate. The two combined for just 5 catches for 62 yards and no trips to the end zone.
DeAngelo Hall will be remembered as many things, but he should go down in history as a great Redskin not only because of his play, but for how hard he played and how much he enjoyed playing for the Redskins. In today’s NFL, and really in today’s pro sports scene, you rarely see guys who care about a team as much as Hall does, and I will remember him as the first player that I saw play in my lifetime that cared about a team to that degree.