- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 4, 2004

Lois Thrash’s first job, at a medical office, went from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Her second, at a photo processing center, started at 5 p.m. and finished at 1 a.m. She slept “three, four hours a night,” recalls her son, Washington Redskins wide receiver James Thrash. And she never complained.

“Between that and trying to keep us knuckleheads together — me, my brother and my sisters — it was amazing,” Thrash said with a laugh. “That stuff sticks with you.”

Apparently. Few Redskins have been as widely praised for their daily effort as Thrash, whom Washington brought back from the Philadelphia Eagles this spring for a 2005 fifth-round pick. He credits his work ethic to his mother, whose overtime during his childhood in Denver put presents under the Christmas tree and made a lifelong impression on her son.

“I never saw her once complain when she came home, ‘Oh, I’m tired.’” Thrash said yesterday at Redskin Park. “That’s something I try to do when I come out here, and I even try to share it with some guys — no matter how hard it gets, never complain. Because when you start saying that stuff, then[R]you start feeling tired.”

The mentality already is paying off for Thrash, who is enjoying a standout camp and appears to be gaining control of the No.3 receiver spot, ahead of Darnerien McCants. Although Thrash failed to blossom into a star during three years with the Eagles, peaking with 63 catches for 833 yards in 2001, he might see significant time in Gibbs’ offense in addition to having a role on special teams.

And even if he never plays a down, coaches and teammates have made it clear that Thrash, a former undrafted rookie out of Missouri Southern who steadily expanded his role from 1997 to 2000 with the Redskins, has unique value.

“It’s great to have him back,” tackle Jon Jansen said. “He’s a great locker room guy, a great effort guy, a great guy to have around to set a tempo for everybody. He doesn’t complain, doesn’t ask for anything. He just says, ‘This is me. I’m going to do my job. This is what you get.’ And you get it every day.”

Redskins fans certainly have taken notice. Thrash receives as much individual attention from spectators at camp as any other player and perhaps has become — like former guard Tre Johnson or linebacker Kurt Gouveia — a hometown hero whose value to area fans far outweighs any national presence. Yesterday, as the August sun beat down at Redskin Park, Thrash received an intermittent chorus as he stretched before practice.

“Welcome back, Thrash!” one fan yelled.

“We rescued you from Philly!” chimed in another.

In Thrash’s opinion, fan appreciation comes back to hard work.

“They remember the guys who gave 100 percent,” Thrash said, citing former return man Brian Mitchell and wide receiver Art Monk. “Fans, when they come out here today, they see guys giving that effort. Even today when it’s hot, they see guys giving that effort. In any job, you respect people who work hard.”

Thrash leads a small parade of old-school Redskins back from the Norv Turner era. Also returning are center Cory Raymer and H-back Mike Sellers. Thrash reminisced with Raymer this spring about the 1999 club, which is the only Redskins team to reach the playoffs in the 11 years since Gibbs’ retirement.

“I’ll never forget. We were walking down the steps [at Redskin Park], and we talked about how we compared every team we’ve been a part of to that ‘99 team,” Thrash said. “I don’t know if I know the true meaning of being a Washington Redskin, but if we had a hint of what it was like, it was ‘99. It was so family-oriented.”

Added Raymer: “The teams that have won everything, they might not have been the greatest teams out there, but every single one of those guys was around one another. You see offensive linemen giggling with DBs. You see quarterbacks messing around with the running backs. It was just one of those atmospheres where winning was contagious and doing well was contagious.”

As contagious as Lois Thrash’s work ethic so many years ago. These days her hard-working son is convinced he’s contributing to another budding football family.

“We’re really starting to jell,” Thrash said. “The other day, it was really tough, hot outside. The fans started screaming, and everybody started talking smack, banging around and having a good time. I saw a lot of smiles on our faces. Although we were dead tired, we were smiling, flying around the ball. That’s all you can ask.”

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