Santana Moss, Brian Orakpo, Lorenzo Alexander, London Fletcher Honored
By ZAC BOYER | firstname.lastname@example.org
WASHINGTON – Brian Orakpo was looking for someone in particular when he stepped to the podium yesterday afternoon to accept the Washington Redskins’ award for defensive player of the year.
“Where’s London at?” Orakpo asked, looking for linebacker London Fletcher, the 13-year veteran. “I’m sorry man. London has won the award for the past 20 years, so it’s a different face.”
The crowd of nearly 800 in attendance for the 50th Annual Washington Redskins Welcome Home Luncheon at the Marriott Wardman Park hotel laughed with Orakpo. Then, minutes later, it cheered as Orakpo, in his third year, made a promise.
“I’m excited about the future,” Orakpo said. “I’m very hungry. I knew these guys out there are very hungry this year, and before I go, one thing I can say is that win, lose or draw, you guys are going to see a hungry team, a team that’s focused out there, dedicated to play every play 100 percent this year. I guarantee that.”
Orakpo was honored alongside receiver Santana Moss, who received the team’s offensive player of the year award, and Lorenzo Alexander, who was named the special teams player of the year. The luncheon is organized each year to benefit the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation and the Redskins Alumni Association and traces its days back to the early 1960s, when the team was welcomed home from training camp – then held in Los Angeles.
Alexander’s tackle of Philadelphia cornerback Jorrick Calvin during the Eagles’ 59-28 victory in November was played before he was introduced, bringing a rousing reaction from a crowd he later thanked.
“It makes it easy for me to go out there and play hard week in and week out,” Alexander said. “I love doing it. I love being a Redskin. It’s really in my soul to go out there and do this each and every week.”
While missing out on the defensive player of the year award, Fletcher believes he had the last laugh. He received the inaugural community service award for his work with his charitable foundation, London’s Bridge, which assists underprivileged children with academic and physical assistance.
“We have so many guys worthy of this award on our team,” Fletcher said, acknowledging Alexander and tight end Chris Cooley, “but of all the awards I receive, the community awards are the ones I take great pride in because it’s not about me. It’s about helping people … and I know that the only reason I am where I am today is because of the help I received.”
Head coach Mike Shanahan thanked the nearly 50 former players for setting a standard of winning within the Redskins organization.
“Anything less than winning the Super Bowl is unacceptable,” Shanahan said. “If you don’t believe, it won’t be done.”
Shanahan also said the team signed every free agent it pursued during the offseason and publicly thanked owner Dan Snyder and general manager Bruce Allen for helping him do so.
“When you can keep your free agents and you can add free agents with outstanding character, you have the opportunity to do something special, and I appreciate you for letting me do that,” Shanahan said.