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AP: From Walla Walla, with a few twists: Redskins' Sellers takes long road to end zon


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From Walla Walla, with a few twists: Redskins' Sellers takes long road to end zone


ASHBURN, Va. (AP) -- It's interesting enough that Mike Sellers has scored one-third of the touchdowns for the Washington Redskins this season. Throw in the rest -- Walla Walla Community College, two stints in the CFL, trouble with the law -- and there's quite a tale to tell.

Walla Walla what?

``It was so easy,'' said Sellers, who was a JUCO All-America linebacker at the college in Washington state. ``It was like an extra year of high school. The level of play was nothing. We traveled everywhere. Utah, Arizona, Idaho, you name it. The bus ride to Utah was, like, 22 hours. I tried to overload on sleeping pills and woke up and still had another 10 hours to go. I was mad.''

Sellers went to Walla Walla because he never took the SAT, having mistakenly figured that his football talent alone was enough to get him into a major college. Then he had to quit Walla Walla because his mother became ill, and he took a job loading Pepsi trucks.

``I didn't even think I'd play football again, to be honest with you,'' Sellers said. ``Then I got a call from Canada.''

The Edmonton Eskimos signed him at age 19, making him the youngest player in CFL history. He became a two-way standout over three seasons, playing defensive end and tailback.

``I treat it as my college,'' Sellers said. ``It was a learning process. It wasn't as intense as the NFL, so it kind of helped me.''

Then came the Redskins, version 1.0. Plucked from Canada by former general manager Charley Casserly, Sellers became a special teams standout and a versatile offensive weapon for three seasons. He parlayed his success into a three-year, $2.4 million contract with Cleveland, then criticized Washington owner Dan Snyder for being a distraction and making life ``very uncomfortable for all the coaches.''

But his career fell apart quickly.

Sellers was arrested and charged with cocaine possession and numerous misdemeanors after a traffic stop in Cleveland. The Browns suspended him for a game, then released him, even though the criminal charges were later dropped. Sellers went back to Canada and played two years for the Winnipeg Bombers, thinking his NFL days were done for good.

``I never thought I'd be back,'' Sellers said. ``But I made my mistakes, got into a little trouble, learned from it.''

Then, one day last year ...

``All of the sudden I see the phone ring. I stared at it for a minute. Should I answer it?'' Sellers said. ``I picked it up. And they wanted to bring me back. I was in shock that I got the phone call, to be honest.''

It was the Redskins on the phone. They signed Sellers to a one-year deal, and he once again excelled in a utility role, playing H-back and tight end and finishing second on the team with 29 special teams tackles. He was such a force that the team forgave him for committing three personal fouls in the same game.

He was re-signed this year and has been a surprise red zone contributor: Both of his catches have been for touchdowns, his first NFL scores in four years.

``Lucky, that's all,'' Sellers said. ``I was just in the right spot at the right time. I don't mind it, but I'd much rather blow somebody up. I'll leave that up to Clinton Portis to score touchdowns.''

But Portis doesn't have a touchdown. Neither does starting receiver David Patten. The red zone scorers have been the big guys: Robert Royal, Chris Cooley and the 6-foot-3, 278-pound Sellers, who catches have been for 4 yards and 2 yards.

``You get down there in that red zone, and the thing is that nobody wants be around him because he's so big,'' quarterback Mark Brunell said. ``Nobody wants to have to tackle him or cover him. The guy's a beast down there. He's getting open, and he's making some plays.''

Sellers has found some perspective during his long, strange trip from Walla Walla. Looking around the locker room, he realized that only four players remain from his first stint with the Redskins.

``I took a lot of stuff for granted being here,'' Sellers said. ``But now, you know, you get older. You get wiser. I've done it all. Now I just sit back and relax and play ball.''


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