Welcome Home: Redskins Award Griffin, Others

The Redskins looked back at last year to honor their top performers and looked ahead to 2005 at their annual Welcome Home Luncheon. John Keim delivers highlights of the 44th annual event:

. . . Highlights from the 44th Annual Welcome Home Luncheon:

. . . Running back Clinton Portis earned Offensive Player of the Year honors. Though he didn't have the kind of year he wanted in 2004, he was still effective. We were reminded of that in the highlight film, watching his dashing cuts. There's little doubt in my mind he'll have a bigger year. "Hopefully, next year I'll get it again,'' Portis said. ''Sorry, Santana [Moss] and David [Patten], I could get used to this."

Joe Washington presented the award.

. . . Defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin was named the Defensive Player of the Year. Funny thing is, he hates to get up in front of groups to speak -- it's why he declined to do so at his own press conference when he signed. Griffin is talkative in small groups and a very nice guy. However his speech reflected his dislike of speaking to big groups.

The notable thing about his award: it was presented by ex-Redskins end Dexter Manley, who received a standing ovation from the crowd. Nice gesture.

Emcee George Michael got a laugh at Manley's expense. When the pastor expected to give the blessing failed to show, Manley suggested Michael do it. To which Michael said, ''I'm not going to do it -- and you're not going to do it either, Dexter.'' Even Manley laughed at that.

Darrell Green eventually gave the blessing. . . . James Thrash was named the Special Teams Player of the Year. It couldn't happen to a better guy. Thrash, too, is quiet but works very hard and is an excellent player. His performance against the Lions last year on special teams was outstanding. And he continues to show he can help in many ways -- as a returner, coverman, receiver and blocker.

Mark Moseley presented his award. Which isn't noteworthy except for the story he told about Bill Malinchak, who used to have a specialty of blocking kicks. After retiring, he went to work on the New York Stock Exchange. Two years later, coach George Allen convinced him to come out of retirement for one game. You got it. Dallas. Malinchak agreed, went to Dallas, blocked a kick and returned to Wall Street.

. . . Poor John Hall: one TV reporter early in camp confused him with Patrick Ramsey. Then, today, he was introduced as Justin Hall.

. . . Nice gesture: The Redskins are working with players who have families in Louisiana, trapped by the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina. Robert Royal stayed at Redskins Park during the luncheon to help arrange some sort of pickup for his family. Owner Daniel Snyder has offered the use of his plane to any player whose family needs to get out of town.

. . . When Thrash mentioned something about a winning season, one fan shouted, ''Amen!''

. . . To Redskins' fans credit, this luncheon remains popular even after years of medicority -- and worse.

. . . Little plea: This is a darned generous board and I hope everyone continues to be so with the hurricane relief effort. Football is fun and provides us all hours of conversation, entertainment and diversion. But it's hard to think about football when you see families being lifted off their roofs, which are only a foot above water.

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