By Brad Fauber
WINCHESTER -- Chris Cooley's football future may still be unclear, but that didn't prevent the former Washington Redskin and current free agent tight end from providing a lighthearted speech to those in attendance at Saturday morning's Wells Fargo Sports Breakfast.
Cooley -- a favorite among Redskins fans since he first broke into the NFL in 2004 -- donned a burgundy and gold Redskins hat as he addressed an audience of all ages at the Winchester Moose Lodge, many wearing Cooley's familiar No. 47 jersey. His speech, though just three minutes long, provided plenty of entertainment and induced several moments of laughter from the crowd.
Cooley began his speech by saying -- sarcastically -- how much he loved Clarke County, where he was pulled over for speeding Saturday morning on his way to the breakfast and that several Virginia state troopers in attendance vowed to tear up the ticket he was written. Cooley also took a jab at co-sports marshal Rod Woodson, saying he remembered playing as Woodson in the 1988 arcade football game, Tecmo Bowl.
But Cooley also had some inspiring words, as he explained the importance of hard work and doing things the correct way.
"If I wanted to do something, I was going to do it. It doesn't matter what it is now, it doesn't matter what it was 10 years ago. If I decided 'I want to do this,' not only am I going to do it, but I'm going to do it really well," Cooley said to his audience. "There's that pride for me to take whatever I had and make the most of it. I think that's why I'm here."
Cooley's speech was the first of five speeches from various sports figures, including current Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garçon, NBA 10,000-plus point scorer Johnny Newman, and co-sports marshals Bill Elliott and Woodson.
For Garçon, being a part of the Apple Blossom festivities was an exciting opportunity.
"I'm enjoying it and just having a great time. I always like to celebrate and everybody is excited about the Apple Blossom Festival," Garçon said prior to Saturday's sports breakfast. "I'm just having a great time meeting Redskins fans and having a good day."
Garçon, who played with quarterback Peyton Manning as a member of the Indianapolis Colts before signing with the Redskins before last season, was a key offseason addition for Washington.
Last season, the Redskins won their first NFC East title since 1999, and Garçon hopes that the team can build on that and hopefully reach the Super Bowl.
"It was a good time. We had ups and downs, we exceeded expectations, but we still have a lot to do," Garçon said. "We made plays, we won the division, we grew in one year and hopefully we will continue to grow as the years go by.
"We have a lot of pieces that we really need on the team. We have guys that can take us to the Super Bowl, we just have to put it all together for 16 weeks and then four or five weeks after that."
Garçon had to deal with a toe injury last season that limited the explosive wide receiver to just 10 games, and he said he is looking forward to going out and giving everything he's got on every play for the Redskins next season.
As far as the toe injury is concerned, Garçon said Washington fans have no reason to worry.
"If we had to play today, I would be playing. I'm good to go," he said.
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org