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Extremeskins

To be in St. Louis.


Art

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St. Louis is one heck of a town if you're in to boozing it up.

Quick note as I edit in some of this week's adventure. The team is in all white today. White pants and white tops. Inactives are Campbell, Stoutmire, Betts, McCune, Thrash, Johnson, Killings and Salave'a.

Noon, Saturday, Dec. 3 -- Driving to the airport in flaky snow feeling terribly guilty my wife may have to learn how to fire up the snow thrower but, more, that I hate flying and it's 16 degrees and snowy so I'm going to REALLY hate flying now.

1 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3 -- Get sight of plane which is approximately the size of my truck. "Yes sir. This is a regional jet." That's all I get for my horrified question as to whether that was actually the plane.

1:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3 -- Pulled back from the gate sitting waiting for the de-icing truck to spray us. You KNOW you're on a flimsy plane when the spray of the chemical actually rocks the plane. I find myself hoping for a cancellation :).

2:45 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3 -- About halfway through the flight the plane shakes radically, spilling my soda and losing altitude. This was astounding to me, made more so by the fact that no one in the **** pit seemed to think it merited a comment.

3:45 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3 -- Physically kiss the ground as I depart the plane.

4:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3 -- Mine is the only checked bag on the plane which apparently stymies St. Louis ground crew people who don't seem too eager to bring my bag to the turnstyle until now.

4:40 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3 -- Rick calls to say he's arrived. I turn the rental around to get the young boy. Little did I know he was physically incapable of making his way from inside to the outside.

5:15 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3 -- Finally forced to threaten Rick that if he can't find the rental car shuttle area soon that I was making him walk to the hotel. Airport security spots my Redskins sweats and we begin talking about how hopeless the Rams are. That felt good. Rick finally shows :).

5:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3 -- We arrive in high style at the Ritz here in St. Louis. For the first time in my life I actually feel tacky for being in sweats. Like in the Sopranos, Rick and I enter the hotel to see a bride being photographed. We're the first people "with the team to arrive" which totally confounds the Ritz crew. We are unable to get our room keys at the front desk. They call to the second floor and escort us up.

5:40 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3 -- On second floor to an obviously confused staff of about 50. Seems when the call came from downstairs that the Redskins had arrived they were expecting something more impressive than Rick and I. Can't really blame them. Woman helping us finds our names. They offer us snacks while they get our keys.

6 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3 -- Dressed better now, I work back to the lobby. Team is 10 minutes out. We take up station in the hotel lobby bar nibbling on snacks. TK is milking another cold. We have to put him in a bubble or something.

6:15 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3 -- Call Larry Michael to tell him the hotel has a cigar bar. Evening is already shaping up nicely. Larry is pre-occupied with finding where we can watch the pay-per-view fight between Hopkins and Taylor.

6:20 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3 -- Team begins to arrive. Some going directly up to the second floor to get their room keys. Bugel walks by to the elevators. We give him a thumbs up.

6:25 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3 -- Larry makes his greetings and heads up to put his stuff away. Karl Swanson comes over. We offer to buy him a drink but he's heading into the city for dinner with the boss. I tell him to blow it off as we'll be more fun. He chuckles. Asked where he's going he gives line of, "No idea. He says go, I go." Was unable to get invite to dinner.

6:35 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3 -- Order some Unagi from the lobby sushi bar as Larry rejoins us with some of the Redskins.comTV folks. Lobby filling up now with a wedding party, live band prepping. Mike Sellers and Joe Salave'a sit at the table next to us. Waitress goes to Sellers allowing me to make comment, "Punch him in the ribs. He likes that." Nice big grin from Sellers on that. He and Salave'a set forth to buy about 50 sushi rolls.

6:45 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3 -- Group heads to hotel cigar bar. Sonny, Larry, TK, myself, the .COM TV guys initially, joined by PR, Louis Riddick and Terry Ray (Pro Scouts) joined us. I am the big man on campus so I hand out cigars, assuring a comfortable spot as "the man" the rest of the night.

7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3 -- Watching Tech get waxed. PR person is a Penn State booster. She initially refuses my offer to bet against State when Tech takes them, but is quickly coming around on my bet when it is apparent Florida State will be the foe :). One guy not with the group is sitting in our area making himself PART of the group.

8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3 -- Outsider wants to be included more and more. I explain I'm not really with the team. I'm just a fan they can't stop making hang out with them. He called me, "The Redskins booster club" the rest of the night. Not too far off that :). He kept asking me if it was ok if, "Could I talk to your friend there?" My friend, of course, one Sonny J.

8:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3 -- We call it a night at the cigar bar just as our outsider friend eats the pickle off Larry Michael's plate. It is decided to split up. Larry, Rick and myself will be heading to JBucks, about three blocks up. It's so cute watching Larry brave the cold. I could be in shorts. :). On way out we hear the crowd is bumpin' at JBucks as three JFK guys enter and head up to their rooms calling it a night. SMART GUYS.

8:45 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3 -- Enter JBucks. Find the rest of our crew is there too, having changed their minds and deciding to stay close, for the moment. The SoCo and Lime shot kicks off the party. I offer to help Riddick with the ladies by asking for his autograph in front of them and acting like he's a big star. Surprisingly he turned that down :).

10 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3 -- The night is going well. Mostly massive boozing. Intermixing beer, port, martinis and shots on my end. TK stays with the Jack and coke. Our crew leaves to take a cab downtown where they plan on having more fun. Larry, TK and I stay put.

10:15 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3 -- In comes the rest of the crew. Terry Ray has an incredulous look on his face. He sits next to me at the bar where two prospective 40-something ladies had just left after being primed for a couple of hours. So, they walk to the Ritz, down three blocks. Freshen up. Then get in a cab. Then, change their minds. End up BACK at JBucks for a $3.01 cab ride. And so we drink. I buy Terry port to go with his cigar and show him the pleasures of the combination. We talk more football. Terry is most impressed with Jacksonville of the teams he covers. He also covers Indy, but, it kind of went without saying he liked them. Though, I got the feeling he thinks Jacksonville could hurt them. Good runners, good interior. Good backup QB while Leftwich is out. He said they'd be the toughest game for us in terms of matchups with the teams he's watching.

10:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3 -- A Redskin coach who shall go unnamed joins the group. I buy him a beer. He's quite taken by the bartenders. One is fairly cute. The other not so cute, but more engaging and larger breasts. The, "Guys must hit on you all the time," question comes out quick to both. I jump in with my best line of all time back when I was a kid. At a bar I approached a student there and asked, "What's your sign?" I was drunk and had intended to branch off from this standard approach, but, one of my buddies dared me to ask it, as he probably KNEW she didn't like it. Anyway, she looked at me and said, "Before I tell you, tell me what yours is." I said, "Pisces." She said, "That's why you smell so bad." She was pretty quick on her feet. I was a hair more quick, adding, "Yeah, but, I taste great." This made the larger-chested bartender smile and discuss the sensual nature of the Pisces. Something about being the best lovers. The Redskins coach with me gives me the go ahead to take her from him with the silent communication guys give one another when it's clear a babe wants a little lovin' from one of them. I back away and sit with the .COM TV guys a table off the bar. I mean, if I wasn't going to play Casey Rabach for a hot little blonde in Dallas, I'm not going to mess with an average, large-chested one in St. Louis. Not my style. I'm too faithful and my wife reads these blogs :).

11:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3 -- Larry and TK head back to the Ritz. TV guys and I sit and talk about life on the road and the team in general. Coach splits with another coach for easier pre.....er conversation. Scouts and PR head downtown for MORE fun.

12:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3 -- Head back to the Ritz with the .Com TV guys with the wishful wave of the bartender and comment, "Bye Art. Sensual Pisces." Her dreams will be filled with the Art tonight. At the Ritz bar is one Rene Knott. He was holding court about something. By this point the evening has gone past the point of memory. I can't remember what I said, but, Knott thought it was very funny, or, perhaps I threw up on his shoes. One or the other. TK is still at the bar as Larry made his exit. There are a pair of Rams fans from L.A. at the bar with a couple of prostitutes. Trust me on that :). They get the look of wanting to beat on me when I taunt them fairly rudely about their team affiliation and as I enter uncontrollable laughter at the prospect of them being Rams fans from L.A. and how utterly pathetic that is. Realizing it would hinder their chances with the hookers they depart silently. Redskin fans own St. Louis.

1 a.m., Sunday, Dec. 4 -- Bar has the audacity to close. We head up for the night. Sleep doesn't come right away due to this awful spinning the room kept doing.

9 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 4 -- Awake, but not alert. First move is to the hotel gift shop for Tylenol and Visine :). Have breakfast. Behind me are some high-level Redskin execs talking about THIS site. One is lamenting the fact we don't let them use pop-ups. I just laughed to myself.

9:30 a.m., Sunday, Dec. 4 -- Meet Larry in the lobby where we hold court a little on the evening behind us and he tells the concierge some stories about life in broadcasting and those he knows. I head up to get ready.

11:10 a.m., Sunday, Dec. 4 -- Showered and ready, meet up with TK in the lobby and we head to the game. Both hurting from too long a night with too many drinks.

11:30 a.m., Sunday, Dec. 4 -- Find our downtown parking spot a few blocks from the stadium. It's shared with the cheerleaders apparently as many velvet sweats are seen heading our way in cars near us. Nice cars. For a group of women who apparently don't make a lot, this is not the first time I've seen they drive nice cars. I wonder how that happens. HMMMMMMM. How could that be? HMMMMMM. I'll have to think on that for a while. Maybe it'll come to me.

11:45 a.m., Sunday, Dec. 4 -- Security at the Dome is a joke. We walk in with little green tags and a cursory search of our bags is done and we're up to the press box. No name checking. No ID checking. The press box is open to the stadium. We're in the rafters and it creates an odd feeling. Bram is in the house and La Canfora enters too. The bulldog-like Bryant doesn't show up for a little longer.

12:15 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 4 -- We think about heading down to the field but are disappointed at the punt, pass and kick contest going on, as one of the JFK guys tells us means the cheerleaders won't be warming up allowing us the early pre-game shots. DARN. We go down anyway.

12:40 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 4 -- Only Brunell and Ramsey are on the field. Hall is over there too. The field is this weird soft artifical shag. It feels slippery. The stadium just feels wrong being inside like this. We run into Larry and the .COM TV guys where we try to count up how much we drank the night before. We stop counting as it is too hard.

1:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 4 -- Some wide-body opera dude is singing the national anthem as a test. It is damn loud. The loudest the dome got. Poor fans. I tell Larry I will go there and sing Hail to the Redskins if I get complete immunity from the team. He really wants me to do it, but won't grant immunity. I'd have done it too :). Moss comes out looking quick. A few more players are coming out to warm up as well. We head back up for the food.

2:15 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 4 -- Sitting with Sam Huff, TK and eventually Larry and Bram eating lunch. Sam is holding court and is on FIRE when he sees the Steve Smith touchdown diaper cleaning of the ball. He said if he was playing he'd go crush him and he'd never do it again. He may have used words I can't type in here while saying it. We got to talking about the Redskins and I said we'll just win them all. Sam was incredulous at the prospect. I put $20 on the line taking us in the next 5 and told him I'd mail him the check. "You're damn right you will."

2:45 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 4 -- Gathering my things to head down to the sidelines, I see a couple of reporter computers open with their leads typed in. Each one in front of me mentions Gregg Williams in connection with the St. Louis head coaching job expected to open. How he's "auditioning" for the job. Don't let anyone tell you the media doesn't create the story. This was the angle heading IN to the game. It would be coming out too. Cameras charged down to the field we go. Expecting the buzz of the crowd I hear only weird silence. You'd think just having people walking to their seats in this indoor environment would be noisy. But nothing. It's very strange. The Rams are announced as I hit the field and you couldn't tell it was happening from the fans. I had to look to make sure they weren't doing practice announcements.

3 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 4 -- On the Skins sideline, the team, as always, seems pretty loose. The Rams send out about 10 captains which someone makes fun of on the sidelines but I didn't catch the full comment or see the person who made it.

First Quarter -- Let me tell you one advantage of a dead crowd. You could HEAR everything on the sidelines. You could hear every play call. Every encouragement. Every cuss. When the ball bounced off Springs on the first deep pass by the Rams, Bubba Tyer swore up a storm screaming, "You gotta get those. You gotta get those." Later when Marcus Washington had one bounce of him, Tyer turned around and growled, "You have to turn around and look for the ball." Salave'a is a leader out there even in street clothes -- or in this case, fancy team workout gear. He's making play calls, encouraging everyone. After Portis' touchdown run Gregg Williams hollers at him and chats with him. Couldn't quite hear that though.

Second quarter -- Portis takes a BIG shot on the sidelines right in front of me. As he gets up Ryan Pickett (spelling) asks him sarcastically if he's alright. Clinton doesn't say anything. One of the security people, a 90-year-old guy, asks me to point out Gregg Williams. I tell him no, I won't, because it won't matter as the Rams aren't going to get him. He laughs and I point him out. The guy is very interested in Williams. The crowd is a LITTLE louder now making it harder to hear individual comments. I head up with a couple minutes left.

Third quarter -- I do a little of the blog and watch the game from the box. Fortunately it's quiet that even without a partition keeping the media and fans apart the media will be able to accomplish their great work in relative silence without the disturbance of cheering :). I head down middle of the fourth quarter to be on the field for the end.

Fourth quarter -- Standing with Karl Swanson watching the game from the end zone. Made my cheering comment to him about the open press box and he laughed. When Rogers made the interception I gave a mild fist pump and he said I could cheer down here :). Game ends and we start walking the field even before the clock is triple 0.

Post-game -- I specifically seek out Robert Royal who's late coming off the field as he was in the prayer group in the middle. I ask him about having a good game and redemption. He answers in a very standard way not really probably understanding I wasn't really media. He was just glad to contribute and be a part of it. Finding Rock I grab him and mention Blondie and the fans at ES. He says to keep supporting him and the team. We have four more to win. Very focused on the remaining games.

Gibbs presser -- Gibbs finishes his press conference which was a long one because we won :). As he's walking out I thank him and congratulate him on the win. He does a double take, then again, not really remembering ME individually so much as I represent a fan site, he reached out to me to grab my hand and thanked me for everything WE do. "You guys really mean a lot. Thank you." The coaching staff really knows who we are here better than the players. It was nice to see.

Locker room -- In Dallas after the win things were LOUD and festive. People singing and dancing and whooping it up. After losses things have been DEAD. Angry even. I've been happy with the team reaction in each case. And I was here as well. The team was happy and clearly so. They were chatting pretty quietly though. They weren't bumping up the volume of the music. They weren't dancing. They were all saying the same thing. "This is one game. We've got four more to do." They didn't think they accomplished anything special here. They didn't. They seem to get it at least. They seem very focused. I went to Chris Cooley in his gangsta handkerchief around his head which Chris Samuels later declared made him "Malibu's Most Wanted." I told him I was the guy from the fan site who did the chat with him. He shook my hand. I told him he was a huge fan favorite and to keep it up. He was thankful and maybe a little grateful I wasn't going to interview him, just offer him encouragement. Where we don't normally hang out near a locker room after a loss, here, we did. It's fun now. Comcast was doing interviews next to us. We got to touch base with a dozen players as they left making small jokes with them. A hello to Marcus Washington who remembers ES. Lavar wasn't overly interested, but, did seem to like the cotton candy joke TK kept telling him and will tell you. Rock came back out to do a spot with Portis and I told him, "Ladell told me if he was in there he'd have had more yards than you, can you believe that." He laughed and said, "He probably would say that," you could tell he wanted to joke, then, not totally sure I was cool to joke with, said, "Nah, he probably would have." Getting more serious. One day these guys will know we're just here to have fun with them :).

This is really the relevant portion of the blog. TK and I largely lounged about. I did some work for my actual job :). Of course, on Monday it was announced another company is trying to buy the company I work for with a bigger bid than another company who already has agreed to buy the one I work for. Things are never easy :).

Talk next at the playoffs.

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Art - tell TK I expect him to step up today. Vow to cut off all his hair if the Redskins don't win today. His record sucks, time to reverse the bad luck.

Its the least he can do :)

Gads. Cutting all the hair? It's getting mean now. ;)

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