In today’s NFL, it is an anomaly to see a high-caliber player start and end their professional career with the same team. These stars not only become a pivotal part of their team’s leadership dynamics, but they are also transformed into a symbol of unity that fans can relate to and place their hopes for victory within.
The Washington Redskins had such a player in former star tight end Chris Cooley.
Cooley started his career in 2004, when he was drafted by the Redskins in the third round. After eight years in the NFL, Cooley retired, holding the Redskins’ franchise record for most receptions by a tight end. However, this is nothing new to Cooley, as in his last year at Utah State University, 2003, he held the NCAA record for most receptions by a tight end.
Washington fans watched Cooley start to perform, and he ended his first NFL season leading the team in touchdown receptions. In his sophomore season, Cooley broke the Redskins’ record for most passes caught by a tight end in a single season. By his fourth year, Cooley became the first NFL tight end to record six or more touchdowns in each of his first four seasons. Cooley did all this while never sustaining a serious injury.
It is safe to say that Washington fans were thrilled to have Cooley on the Redskins, especially since the team was not performing. At least he was.
Cooley also performed off the field. For his non-profit efforts to feed the poor and read to children, he was nominated by the Redskins for the NFL Man of the Year award. Cooley, with the help of his brother, also ran his own Washington-based blog, where his comments on current issues and humorous persona brought him the love of many fans.
After sparse appearances on the Redskins’ roster in 2012, Cooley decided to retire. Soon after, he announced his intention to broadcast on the Redskins’ radio network, working as a football analyst.
This is an amazing move for Cooley, as he will remain in the hearts and minds of Redskins fans. Also, the organization played their hand well, as bringing in Cooley will increase their radio traffic and increase franchise popularity.