- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 9, 2007

I asked Dave Johnson, the voice of D.C. United on Comcast SportsNet, whether he could do me a favor before the start of the David Beckham press conference at RFK Stadium yesterday.

“Could you point out to me which one is Beckham when they come in?”

He laughed, but thank goodness just two people, Beckham and Los Angeles Galaxy coach Frank Yallop, walked into the Washington Nationals’ indoor batting cages, where the press conference was held.

Only one of them looked like he still was a player — though with the tattoos, I might have mistaken him for the guy driving the beer forklift through the tunnels of RFK.

“It’s great to be in Washington,” Beckham said. “It’s an amazing city with so much history.”

Actually, Washington is a pimple on history compared to Beckham’s homeland, but it was nice of him to say. He seemed like a nice bloke, the sort of guy you would want to have a beer with — not at all like the “Entertainment Tonight” rock star he has become.

“That’s a shame about all that stuff because people don’t really get to see there is a lot more substance there than style,” Johnson said.

But only about half of the 45,000 people expected to pack RFK Stadium in hopes of seeing Beckham make his MLS debut — an event that’s still uncertain because of his injured ankle — are there for the substance.

The other half want to see the style, the spice, if you will, as in Victoria, his wife.

No Spice Girl sightings yesterday at RFK, though — not even a spice rack.

No celebrities in sight, either, at the press conference, though I’m sure there will be some in the crowd tonight at RFK, Washington style: politicians, media and lobbyists with maybe a few Hollywood types mixed in.

It’s not clear to me why Beckham and his Spice wife have achieved British royalty-like status. He has been a great player, but there have been other, better soccer players to come out of England. And she was just a gimmick.

Yet they have become the World’s Couple, with people bowing before them.

When Beckham came to Los Angeles last month to start his career with the Galaxy, they received a private welcome party that included the likes of Steven Spielberg, George Clooney, Oprah Winfrey and Dan Snyder’s business partner, Tom Cruise — which conjures up something I could get excited about.

How about a deal for Beckham to kick field goals for the Redskins? That would be the ultimate Americanization of a worldwide treasure.

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