On Thursday, an era ended. Washington’s radio team did not include
Sam Huff. After 38 years, the team played a game with another color man
in the broadcast booth next to Larry Michael and Sonny Jurgensen: former
tight end Chris Cooley.
Ran into Cooley in the bowels of LP Field in Nashville after the
game. I’ve always liked Cooley, because he’s a thinker. I could see how
pumped he was. “So nervous before the game,” he said. “A new job, and a
pretty big deal.”
This is why he’s going to be good at being the third man in the
Washington booth: Before the game, he worked the team’s locker room for
nuggets. Got invited into Mike Shanahan’s office for a conversation. Ran
into players he knew. Wondered if he was really doing the right thing,
with his body feeling so perfect and pain-free, getting into this media
thing. He found himself with Robert Griffin III, who was not playing in
the game after offseason knee surgery, and London Fletcher, who was
healthy and suited up, ready to go. Griffin is 23. Fletcher is 38.
“I was able to get a couple of good things on the air tonight,”
Cooley said. “When I was with Robert and London, Robert looked at him
and said, ‘Why are you playing tonight, dude?’ London said: ‘Because
great players play.’ I got that on. I thought that was great.”
Too often, former players believe the fact that they played the game
and been behind the magic curtain is enough to merit a lifetime job on
TV or radio. It shouldn’t be that way, and in the increasing meritocracy
of football in the electronic media, ex-players are being made to bring
something to the table. Cooley did exactly that for his audience
Thursday night, and I would have expected nothing less from someone so
bright and curious.
Completely agree with PK on the former players turned broadcasters. Just because you played, doesn't mean you can articulate yourself on the air the way that engages an audience. Listening to Cooley on the internet on Thursday, he was a breath of fresh air. I know he's doing sidelines now but he should fill in and take SH's old spot soon. He has the respect of the players and can get good reactions from them during interviews. But its preseason, he'll have the access now, but not during the regular season, and his talents should be better utilized other than giving 3 second injury reports or quick halftime updates from the coaches. You can get any schmo to do that.