|The Redskins on offense against the Buccaneers|
That morning it had been reported that the Redskins had released tight end Chris Cooley, one of the most popular and productive players in the team's history. Cooley had been plagued by injuries the past 2 seasons, but appeared healthy this year.
In the off-season, the Redskins had drafted star college quarterback Robert Griffin III in hopes that he could return the Redskins to the glory years when they were regularly winning Super Bowls. It was something Cooley, although he played hard and squeezed the most out of his ability, had been unable to do.
The fans in D.C. loved Cooley not just for his hard play on some pretty pathetic Redskins teams, but for the crazy incidents stemming from his oddball character. There are dozens of great Cooley stories, but none probably more widely told than this one. A few years ago, Cooley was photographed with the Redskins playbook. Now, in and of itself, that doesn't seem strange. However, at the time Cooley was holding the playbook in his lap. He was also naked. So the photo featured not only Cooley's playbook, but all of his genitalia as well.
If anyone had any doubts about how popular Cooley was, they would have been dismissed by counting the number of fans wearing his #47 jersey last night. But while fans are important, Cooley's dismissal proved that modern sport is a bottom-line business. In today's professional athletics, there is little, if any, room for loyalty. Older athletes are replaced by younger, faster, and in many cases, cheaper versions.
Sports is a lot like politics. There are winners and there are losers. Old kings make way for new ones. In Washington, old king Cooley is gone. The young RGIII is set to take his place. All hail the new king. But no matter how the RGIII era unfolds, the fans made it clear last night that old king will not soon be forgotten.
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