And I don't think I'm unduly pre-empting events as everything is sadly pointing that way, from our own 'insiders' and the beat reporters tit-bits through the growing news the past few days of Niles Paul being a part of the TE group as we start the long haul leading to the 2012 season; then it will sadly bring the curtain down on one of the most popular Redskins in this franchises rich history. And a player who, along with Clinton Portis and Santana Moss, has almost single-handedly carried the Washington Redskins on the field through the vast majority of the 2000's.
Back around this time in 2004, amidst all the euphoria of Coach Gibbs return, we entered the draft with a paltry 4 picks after pre-draft trades to strengthen a shockingly poor roster. With only one pick in the top four rounds. Now growing up through Coach' first go-around, the one thing I was sure we were going to address was the TE's. He'd inherited a woeful bunch of the likes of Zeron Flemister and Robert Royal. And when he was here through the glory days, the single back, two TE set was a staple. Donnie Warren the bruising blocker, Clint Didier the more refined receiving threat. I won't lie, with our fifth overall pick back in '04, I badly wanted us to take Miami's Kellen Winslow II. (How wrong I got that one.). Although taking his teammate, some dude called Taylor (God rest), was a nice compensation. When the Patriots took the other TE I'd eyed, Benjamin Watson, late in the first, I was resigned to making do at the position with what we had.
Then, out of nowhere, we traded back up into the 3rd round (a pick we'd lost acquiring Scott Brunnell); and gave up a 2005 2nd rounder along with moving down in the 5th by swapping picks in that round with the Saints. All for some kid out of Utah State, who, whilst being a decent receiving threat, I thought was a bit of a reach for what we'd given up. (Again, how I got that one wrong.). This set me madly scrambling for as much info as I could garner on this kid Cooley above the little I knew ..... 40- 0 record as a HS wrestler- Hmmm, one tough SOB then ..... Bill Parcells, the Cowboys HC of the time, told him in pre-draft interviews he'd never be more than a 'spot' player- WOOOOO, up went the defenses! If one of THEM is saying that about one of OURS, before he's even been drafted, then this is a kid I'ma get RIGHT behind!
And so the Cooley love affair was born in this long standing Redskin fan.
On the field, the stats speak for themselves:
Over the past 8 seasons, through 100 starts out of a possible 128 regular season games-
428 Receptions. (A Redskins record for a TE, beating the great Jerry Smith who played in 42 more games over 5 more seasons, with the great Sonny J throwing him the rock the majority of that time.).
4,703 Receiving Yards. (Only 793 yards shy of Smith's Redskins record.).
11 Yards Average Per Gain, with a long of 66 for a TD.
33 Touchdowns. (With 3 two point conversion receptions for good measure.).
48 Receptions over 20 Yards.
2 Receptions over 40 Yards.
249 1st Downs.
11 Fumbles, with 4 Lost.
Through those 8 years, not only has Chris been the best playmaking TE in Redskins history bar Smith, and one of our major offensive weapons, he's also stood parallel amongst the very best in the entire NFL.
Discounting his rookie year, and his injury hit '09 and '11 seasons, he's had 4 full seasons ('05. '06, '07, '08); and the 2010 season when he missed one game.
79 of 80 games over those 5 seasons, through which his numbers were thus:
354 Rec/ 3,992 Yds/ 11.3 Yrd Av Gn/ Long 66 TD/ 25 TD/ 44 Rec 20+ Yds/ 2 Rec 40+ Yds/ 206 1st Downs/ 10 Fumbles- 4 Lost.
Compare that to the three TE's with better stats than him his career, two sure fire Hall of Famer's Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez, and his great NFC East rival Jason Witten.
Gates, the undrafted phenom out of Kent State who's had Phillip Rivers supplying him:
79 of 80 games (I've taken his 2009 season in place of 2010 as he missed 6 games in 2010):
374 Rec/ 4,870 Yds/ 13 Yrd Av Gn/ Long 57 TD/ 44 TD/ 7 Rec 20+ Yds/ 3 Rec 40+ Yds/ 265 1st Downs/ 2 Fumbles- 1 Lost.
Gonzalez, 13th overall pick and arguably the greatest TE of all time:
79 of 80 games.
416 Rec/ 4,691 Yds/ 11.3 Yrd Av Gn/ Long 57/ 28 TD/ 47 Rec 20+ Yds/ 1 Rec 40+ Yds/ 264 1st Downs/ 1 Fumble- Recovered.
Witten, who's had the luxury of Romo and Dallas' pass happy offense and better players over the duration:
79 of 80 games.
401 Rec/ 4,610 Yds/ 11. 5 Yrd Av Gn/ Long 53/ 27 TD/ 56 Rec 20+ Yds/ 4 Rec 40+ Yds/ 232 1st Downs/ 2 Fumbles- 2 Lost.
Cooley certainly stands comparison with the very best in the game, and you could well argue would match the other threes numbers given their individual situations. Not least Gates and Wittens QB's, as opposed to the absolute definitions of mediocrity and worse he's had throwing him the rock.
But Chris Cooley has meant so much more to the fanbase and community than what he's done on the field for our team. He's one of the most personable, approachable players in living memory. A regular, blue collar guy who just happens to of been blessed with athletic talent. He absolutely adores the area, and openly admits he can never see himself being based anywhere else. He's the only person I've ever taken the time to sign up and follow on a blog. 'The Cooley Zone' was a riot, and showed just how humble and normal the guy is. From the hilarious faux pas of splashing his junk over the internet, through videos at his potters wheel; a day by day video diary of a cross Country return to Wyoming, which could of been any average American couple; through all points inbetween; his blog has been one of the most entertaining, non conceited pieces out there from a guy in his position. And he loves, that's LOVES, the Washington Redskins. He knows our history, and will readily talk about it to anyone that will listen. And he still only wants to play his ball here.
Not bad for a kid out of Powell, Wyoming, who grew up a Bronco's fan in Logan, Utah.
If this is to sadly be the end, which as much as I'm rooting for ya' Chris all signs are pointing to it being sometime in the coming weeks; thank you so much for all the memory's, and for everything you've done and meant for my team.
The best honor I can give you Captain Chaos is that, more than any other player in recent memory, I'm MORE than happy to class you as one of our own.
As the greatest of all Redskins used to like to say, from day one you've been a core Redskin.