Ten o’clock at night July 28th this summer, I was sitting in the office room of the Hilton Garden Inn trying to think of something Redskins related to write...when two pre-teen boys popped through the door and leaned down next to me on the marble countertop. Dressed cap-to-socks in Burgundy and Gold, they held in their hands a worn, grayish football each, which were peppered all over in illegible Hancocks with numbers etched beside them. I didn’t wonder what their mission for the night might be: they told me anyway.
“We’re waiting for the Skins to come back to hotel!”
The two must have spotted my white “Staff” team-issued shirt through the glass door. They seemed impressed. They wondered if I could help them land an autograph or maybe a picture with a player. I couldn’t, I told them. They were not overly disappointed.
In short order, they both asked me: “You get any autographs from any players?” I shook my head, chuckling at the idea of stepping over those bounds. The older one nodded, at once jealous and sympathetic of my situation.
“But you get to see them everyday!” the younger of the two, jumped in. I did. It was sweet.
"You meet D-Hall?" one asked. Hearing a promising noise, the boys tugged each other back into hotel lobby.
Around five minutes later, the younger, young man bounced back into the computer room.
“Look!’ he shouted, pressing a GameDay Program against my shoulder. “I got Evan Royster! and Cedric Griffin!” The young man pronounced ever syllable of each of the two players’ names with Bob Costas like precision. I held the program up for a better look at the signatures.
“Cool, man,” I said. “You think they’ll start?”
“Royster, probably, yeah,” he said. “But I like D-Hall.”
Shrugging my shoulders, I noted that you never know; you need several good corners to survive in today’s NFL.
“But D-Hall’s the man. I love’em. He is such a great player.”
Always endeared by earnest fanaticism, especially from a youngster, I attempted to sophisticate his love for the player: “You hear what he said at his press conference today? He said he 'might not be a great corner, but he is a great football player.'”
“He is!” the young fan shouted over the top of me, before calming himself. “He really, really is.”
Today - 10-18-2012- Pro-Football focus noted some jaw-dropping statistics from DeAngelo Hall. When he has been targeted, opposing quarterbacks are completing 72% of their passes, for a QB rating of 94.3 They surmised that he was a terrible corner.
Listening to espn980 right now, "The Sports Fix" are killing him for these stats. They've apparently known for years that he can't cover.
To be fair, QBs are completing 69.4% and averaging a 94.2 QB rating overall against the Redskins.
Hall's numbers are bad alright, very bad. They're probably slight worse than the average Redskins corner right now - which doesn't sound good rolling of the tongue. But I don’t think - like some certain sports radio shows hosts - that it means the Redskins should be looking for a way to replace D-Hall or limit his playtime.
First of all, the man has created 3 turnovers, leading the team. I see more to come. He has football-sized vaccum cleaners on the tips of his wrists. Moreover, I see him as an emotional leader of the defense. Sure, he is not capable of shutting down the other team’s best receiver. Who is on the skins? Josh Wilson has given up some big and inexcusable big plays by not being able to tackle. Hall, though, like Wilson, is willing to take on that challenge whenever he is asked to cover a great wideout.
Personally, considering the overall brittle structure of the Redskins secondary, I think the fact that he is not being beaten more often is a good sign. With better safeties, Hall could turn from a bad coverage guy, to a decent cover corner who also happens to have a worldclass nose for the football..
The young man I met that quiet summer night didn’t think about the different aspects of D-Hall’s game. His upside and downs. He only saw the man holding the Pro Bowl MVP Trophy. More than that, he looked up to him as a man.
“He’s such a great guy,” the young boy continued. “See, look, at this from last night,” In the blink of an eyelash, the teen had pulled out his phone and had cued up a well lit picture of a bald-headed, three time pro-bowler with his long arm swung around a peach-fuzzed fan, both brandishing bright white teeth, each almost exactly the same height. I congratulated him and he thanked me. Starting back toward his perch, the teeneager added: “Everybody was like ‘Oh [bleep]! How’d you get that!’ And I’m like, yeah. Uh, I’m staying at his hotel: I’m so freakin’ lucky!”
Awhile later I overheard the two young men chatting with rookie running back, Alfred Morris outside the hotel’s office room. “I thought I got you yesterday,” Morris remembered, laughing. Their conversation soon turned to the new Madden game and RG3’s rookie rating. “Highest ever!” the youngest one asserted. All agreed.
At first, I found it kind of funny that these kids thought of me as so lucky just for getting work around the Redskins. Heading up to my room late that night, though, I could only be inspired by their enthusiasm. In their eyes, they were the lucky ones: simply for having the opportunity to wait right there and hope to see their heroes walk through that door.
The next night I saw the two young boys with a certain unreasonably confident corner standing by the elevator, shooting the breeze.