Anyone following me on Twitter, or anyone who has talked football with me the past year, knows I’ve been waiting impatiently for the day that the Redskins released Chris Cooley. Truth be told, I’ve wanted his release since Fred Davis emerged during his first injury and showed that in-game, he’s among some of the very best at the position.
That’s not a knock to Cooley, who I believe can still play. This isn’t someone trolling to rip one of the most popular players in the league. I’m a Chris Cooley fan, and I’m sad to see him go. I wish him all the luck in his future with another team (so long as it’s not in the NFC East) or in broadcasting or whatever it is he pursues. However, I’m a Redskins fan long before I’m a fan of any player. No player is bigger than the team in my eyes and heart. So realistically, Cooley had to go.
I knew it during Shanahan’s first year here, when we were playing the Texans, and Chris Cooley dropped a wide open touchdown in the endzone that he was just waiting for. The ball didn’t come in too fast. Cooley made difficult catches his entire career, and one of the easiest touchdown catches he’d ever have, came right off of his hands. The very next play was identical, except to Fred Davis, who caught the football and gave us 6 points.
That scenario was Chris Cooley’s career in a nutshell… a talented football player who just wasn’t as good at the present as his younger counterpart.
I would have loved to have seen Cooley remain productive for the Redskins and offer an attack along with Fred Davis. But battling injuries, becoming more prone to fumbling, not shedding as many tackles, and dropping passes he should have caught ultimately spelled the end of Cooley in Washington. For his career with the Redskins, Cooley registered 428 receptions (a franchise record for the position) for 4703 yards and 33 touchdowns.
It’s not difficult to figure out why Cooley was a fan favorite here. He was a fratboy, playing the role of the asshole on campus, but being dependable and always reliable for good-natured fun. He interacted with fans. He was everything you want a professional athlete to be off-the-field, and on-the-field, he was a Pro Bowl player. But his talents have faded, and his production has dropped. And while I believe, as he believes, that he can still play… I just haven’t seen enough of “still” here in Washington, and apparently coaches haven’t either.
So Hail to a Redskin. Cooley will always be a part of this community, this franchise, even if he laces up cleats with another team. In the end, he’ll be a Clinton Portis. Home is where the heart is, and home for Chris Cooley is Washington.