Arrington, Samuels are 'Skins' top picks

Washington stocks up with Penn. St. linebacker, Alabama tackle at Nos. 2, 3

April 16, 2000|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

ASHBURN, Va. -- LaVar Arrington had answered hundreds of questions yesterday before he gave some major insight into why playing for the Washington Redskins would have intriguing personal meaning for him.

"I met my first girlfriend in Washington when I was walking around on a fifth-grade class trip," said Arrington in a lighter moment at Redskin Park. "I gave her a broken chain with a safety pin. It was one of those special times in life you never forget."

Arrington broke into a wide grin as he recalled that first girlfriend and actually seemed to enjoy himself for a few brief seconds in a hectic but satisfying day that began in New York, where Washington made him the No. 2 overall selection in the NFL draft.

The 6-foot-2, 233-pound Arrington, a linebacker from Penn State, flew in Redskins owner Daniel Snyder's personal jet and helicopter to Redskin Park and found himself facing a second horde of reporters before he would be whisked off to FedEx Field to meet the admiring Redskins fans.

A few impatient fans dashed around the back of the building to see Arrington and and offensive tackle Chris Samuels, the team's No. 3 selection in the first round who accompanied Arrington on the helicopter ride.

Life in the fast lane had arrived for two of the top three collegiate players in the country. And it was obvious the 6-5, 291-pound Samuels from Alabama and Arrington would handle their new-found acclaim in different ways.

"I don't run my mouth," Samuels said. "I just get it done. Just to sum it all up, I truly feel blessed today."

Arrington?

"He's the comedian and talks a lot," Samuels said. "He was already bumping into me on the flight down here, and I told him, `We don't even have pads on yet, loosen up.' "

Arrington has a lot to talk about. He began with a heartwarming story about his father, Michael, who lost both his legs while serving in Vietnam and ended with the All-American taking the No. 56 with the Redskins. He says he's ready to pattern himself on the field after former New York Giants great Lawrence Taylor.

"My dad got his legs caught in a tank's chains and he would have choked on his blood if they hadn't gotten him to an emergency helicopter," said Arrington, who left Penn State after his junior year. "I feel like when I play I run for people like my father who had dreams of being a great player and for my cousins who don't have legs. One of my cousins has polio and another one passed away with cerebral palsy."

Michael Arrington is now an ordained minister and retired from the military. When someone called the elder Arrington a "war hero" yesterday, LaVar broke into a wide grin.

"Don't let my dad hear you say he was a war hero," Arrington said jokingly. "That's all I need. He will be impossible to live with. Seriously, I'm so proud of him and he's getting ready to celebrate his 50th birthday."

With Arrington and Samuels landing in Washington as expected, Redskins player personnel director Vinny Cerrato, coach Norv Turner and Snyder were in a happy and joking mood, and didn't discourage talk of a possible Super Bowl trip next season.

Cerrato said, "It has to be a dream come true for LaVar and Chris to land with a team that was 10-6 last season and won a division championship and has Super Bowl aspirations. Usually when a player is picked this high, they go with a rebuilding team not a team like this."

In case anyone was worried about getting Arrington and Samuels signed, Snyder said, "We've talked at length with both of them, and they seem to understand that Redskins don't hold out."

The Redskins completed the first day of the draft by selecting North Carolina State cornerback Lloyd Harrison with their third-round pick. Harrison was the second player chosen in the third round, and the 64th overall.

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