Captain Chaos, Chris Cooley is next up on my all time favorite Redskins list, coming in at number 9.
Cooley was drafted in 2004 and part of Joe Gibbs first draft class since returning to coach the Redskins. The unheralded TE from Utah State ended up being selected in the 3rd round (81st overall) and was the 6th TE picked behind guys with marginal NFL success such as…Kellen Winslow, Benjamin Watson, Ben Troupe, Kris Wilson and Ben Hartsock. Not sure why he was able to slip this deep in to the draft? The only thing i could suspect was his performance at a small school in Utah (football small…)… it could also have been that he played in the Sun Belt conference. Not exactly the SEC when it comes to talent pools. This kind of oversight always happens to the small school kids. You see guys that go to the tradition football powerhouses and get pushed to the top of the draft or taken higher than they should be and fail to meet the high NFL expectations. I always love it when the small school guys succeed, kind of the all american redemption story.
Cooley became one of the leagues premier Tight Ends in 9 short seasons, and putting up solid numbers with a franchise that was nothing short of chaotic. New coaches, coordinators and QB’s seemed to come through each year, but he always managed to put up solid numbers.
One of my favorite stories was when the Redskins were looking at drafting him, Joe Gibbs fell in love with the guy and thought he was a Mormon, being from Utah and all, you know? That’s where they keep the Mormons and all of the fine folks of Utah are indeed Mormon! Joe Gibbs couldn’t have been more wrong. Captain Chaos was a beer drinking, prank calling wild child that let everything hang out…literally…or figuratively…whatever.
One of my favorite Cooley moments was his second season with the Redskins, 2005, agains the Dallas Cowboys. The Redskins were in the midst of turning around the season and making a late season push, needing to win out to even have hope of making the playoffs. That game was a huge breakout moment for Cooley as he put up 3 of the Redskins 4 first half TD’s, with the last being a beautiful 30 yard run down the sidelines. I remember shouting COOOOOOOOLEY as loud as i could at my tv, just in case anyone could hear me. Such an exciting game and fantastic season. It’s moments like these that make you love your sports team…and make everything seem so much enjoyable.
The Redskins ended up winning the game 35-7 and making the playoffs. They beat the Buccaneers in Tampa and traveled to Seattle where my wife and I attended our first Redskins game together. Although the good guys lost, it was great to see my favorite team in a playoff game…how many kids get to do that!
Cooley is also a bit of a renaissance man. An artist, a painter and a potter. He has had multiple gallery exhibits in DC and involved in the art community as well. But instead of showing his art, i’m choosing to show his crusty heavy metaled out practice shorts…cause that’s just more fun!
He also married a Redskins cheerleader, which is pretty cool…kind of high school-ish, but cool no less…
…and eventually ended up wearing this at his wedding…what a guy!
Last season was more than likely his last. Cooley was cut just before the start of the season as the development of Fred Davis and transition of Niles Paul to TE made his role less critical. It became pretty obvious that his tenure was coming to an end. Cooley ended up coming back for 8 games last year but only caught one pass. At this point, i’m hoping he hangs it up and does the traditional signing of a one day contract as a Redskin.
All Cooley fans remember the great stories about him…his oddball personality and all around fun lovin attitude from a one of a kind character. He reminded me a lot of John Riggins with some of the things he did on and off the field and will alway be one of my favorite Redskins.
#9 – Chris Cooley
#10 – Gary Clark
#11 – Brian Orakpo
#12 – The Hogs