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Arrington sheds dreds for cousin

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Arrington Sheds Dreads for Cousin

Wed Jul 24, 5:47 PM ET

By JOSEPH WHITE, AP Sports Writer

CARLISLE, Pa. (AP) - LaVar Arrington has cut his hair, dreadlocks and all, as a show of support for a cousin with cancer.

It's an act of love from the Washington Redskins linebacker who usually masks his compassionate side with one-liners and hard hits. But this week, as training camp began, Arrington's goal of being the NFL's defensive player of the year was sidetracked once the helmet came off.

"Well, by far I'm still the prettiest linebacker," he said with a smile.

But this is more serious.

Fifteen-year-old Joe Arrington has been fighting prostate cancer ( news - web sites) in a Pittsburgh hospital and will lose his hair while receiving chemotherapy and radiation. LaVar Arrington had spent two years growing his beloved dreadlocks to make them look just right, but Joe's plight gave him perspective.

"I love my hair," Arrington said. "It's a part of my personality. But there are more important things to think about than myself right now.

"Joe's my inspiration. To be 15 years old and battling cancer at that age and to be as brave as he is, smiling and laughing and having a good time, he's a hero to me."

Arrington gave his cousin one of his severed dreadlocks and plans to invite him to training camp. Because the cancer was detected early, doctors have said Joe has an 80 percent chance of a full recovery.

That eases Arrington's mind only a little, and the natural tonic for his worries is a good hard football practice. Arrington was one of the few players who couldn't wait for Wednesday's first full workout in pads, even as his teammates were hailing new coach Steve Spurrier for cutting down on contact.

"We had enough minicamps where we practiced without pads," Arrington said. "So it's about time we started finding out who the real tough guys are."

Arrington plans on making enough hits this year to get that defensive player award. The "LaVar Leap," which he used to propel himself over players and into opposing backfields at Penn State, is set to return as defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis unleashes Arrington's ability to rush the quarterback.

"It think it exploits what I'm good at," Arrington said. "I'm excited because he really gives me an opportunity to be in places I haven't really been since I've been in the NFL. It'll give me that breakout year that I need in terms of getting to the quarterback."

Entering his third year, Arrington is already emerging as the heart and soul of the Redskins defense. His 67-yard interception return against Carolina, which came after suffering a mild concussion earlier in the game, revived the Redskins from last season's 0-5 start and ignited a five-game winning streak. He led the team in tackles and was selected to the Pro Bowl.

This year, the additions of Jeremiah Trotter and Jessie Armstead will allow Arrington to concentrate on the quarterback on third down instead of dropping in pass coverage.

Translation: a lot of sacks, a good statistic for those who hand out awards.

"That played a part in why I was willing enough to jump out on a limb and say I'm going to get MVP," Arrington said, "because sacks do make a difference, and I have an opportunity to go make some this year. More than I ever have."

Arrington had three interceptions last season, but he was credited with just one-half of a sack.

And this year?

"There is no limit on LaVar," defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson said. "You're taking a guy that is definitely the fastest linebacker in the NFL, and with a little nutty behind him as well, there is no limit. He's a little nutty."

A little nutty, perhaps, but also quite compassionate.

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As an adult going through chemotherapy, my heart and prayers go out to this young man and his family. KUDOS to LaVar for his thoughtfulness and concern. I bet words can not express how this gesture made his cousin feel.


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LaVar, you are one helluva man. Family is the most important thing on this earth, and having a stud baller like LaVar demonstrate that his priorities are straight makes me all the more proud that he is a Redskin.

Blondie, our hearts are with you and yours. Remember:

"Fight on

Fight on

'til you have won

sons of Washington"

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The "LaVar Leap," which he used to propel himself over players and into opposing backfields at Penn State, is set to return as defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis unleashes Arrington's ability to rush the quarterback.

I can't wait to see this, I would love to see Quincy Carter get hammered from above as he is getting the ball snapped to him and not knowing what hit him as he collapses and fumbles the half snapped ball.

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For all of the a-holes in this world, many of which wear football uniforms, there are rare players who simply GET IT. I can't believe I'm actually saying this, but Arrington has displaced Darrell Green as my favorite Redskin. If nothing else, he has made being a fan a true joy that I haven't felt since Monte Coleman was on the team. What an amazing person. Thank you God for giving us Lavar!

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