- The Washington Times - Friday, August 6, 2004

Heartfelt interruption

Halfway through coach Joe Gibbs’ post-practice press conference, all the questions about big plays and positional battles suddenly fell into perspective. Gibbs abruptly broke off his reply to one query to sign autographs for a group of departing fans.

It was a particularly touching scene because this group, from Loudoun County Public Schools, included a number of children with disabilities. He signed for several moments, thanked them for coming (as is his custom) and even posed for a picture.

“It’s hard to believe we could have people come out and be that energetic in the heat and everything,” Gibbs said when he returned. “I’m sorry we couldn’t get autographs for everybody.”

Crowd pleaser

LaVar Arrington is nothing if not accommodating. The Pro Bowl linebacker is always in high demand at training camp — coaches, reporters and fans all want a piece of his time.

Arrington didn’t even practice yesterday because of a bruised leg, but that didn’t stop him from honoring every request thrown his way.

First, there was a television segment with Fox Sports Net “reporter”/supermodel Leeann Tweeden, then a group interview session with a pack of media members. All the while, fans off in the distance were screaming out Arrington’s name, pleading with him to come over and sign autographs.

Eventually, Arrington gave in. He cut short his interview, turned toward the fans (who produced an even-louder roar) and then spent a good 30 minutes signing everything in sight.

Family jewels

Clinton Portis has sparkled at seemingly every spare moment in camp, darting between tacklers, outrunning defensemen and snaring the tough throws. But his football skills vanished in warmups at a moment he really could have used them.

The running backs were playing a version of the baseball game “pepper” when the incident occurred. Standing in a circle, the players quickly tossed the ball to each other to practice catching it. At one point John Simon rifled a low spiral to Portis, whose hands snapped together a second late — just as he got pegged in the — well, you know.

No word on whether the groin strain that sidelined Portis for Thursday’s practice was aggravated by Simon’s ill-fated shot.

OVERHEARD

“I’m not going to the Hall unless I’m going to [be inducted into] the Hall. Just like the Super Bowl. I’m not going to the Super Bowl unless I’m playing in it.”

— Linebacker LaVar Arrington on whether he plans to tour the Pro Football Hall of Fame before Monday night’s game in Canton, Ohio.

“I’m tired of hittin’ you, playa!”

— Defensive end Regan Upshaw to tight end Walter Rasby after practice.

BY THE NUMBERS

21

Years of age of the Redskins’ youngest player, safety Sean Taylor.

38

Years of age of the Redskins’ oldest player, punter Tom Tupa.

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Today is Fan Day at Redskin Park. Parking lots and gates open at 8 a.m. There are a pair of morning walkthroughs. Fan festivities start at noon. Scheduled events include performances by the Redskins cheerleaders and band, a fan address by coach Joe Gibbs and full-squad practice from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. An autograph session follows. Go to redskins.com or call 703/726-7411 for directions and daily updates.

TODAY’S WEATHER

Mostly sunny, breezy. High: 76 degrees. Chance of rain: 0 percent.

Jody Foldesy and Mark Zuckerman

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