WASHINGTON –– NFL locker rooms have a lot in common with high school cafeterias.
Certain groups sit at specific corners of the room, there are popular kids — actually, it’s mostly only popular kids — and the younger guys they rag on.
Last year, Frank Kearse was the proverbial punching bag. This year, someone new. Next year it will be someone else. Such is the role of the new guy in a room full of veterans.
Longtime Redskins receiver Santana Moss, since retired, had his own method for keeping this ecosystem in order: by doling out crushing nicknames.
Honestly, what could be more punishing to a young corner than being called “Flamp Bailey” by one of the team’s elder statesmen?
“I made up names in practice of guys who I feel like who was manure to me,” Moss said this week on 106.7 The Fan.
“Some of the guys who are probably on the team now, they probably could tell you I named a guy Flamp Bailey,” he said. “And I named a guy Leon Flanders.”
Ironic nicknames sound especially cruel, but one ironically resembling the names of two of the greatest corners — Champ Bailey and Deion Sanders — to ever play the game? Damn, that’s cold.
“If I ever gave you that name and you was a part of our practice squad, then you knew how we thought about you,” Moss said. “We thought you was whack.”
“We went out there and lit fire to him,” he said. “And even if they had a bad day, we would still get on him because we knew that, ‘Hey, you have this name and this is the only name we’re gonna call you by, unless you’re playing for somebody else.’ Those names was like given out every year to someone new.”
If you’re like me, you’ll spend the rest of the afternoon looking at practice squad rosters trying to identify all the Leon Flanders and Flamp Baileys.
“You had to be in that receiver room, because we gave ’em out, man,” Moss went on to say. “We laughed…you could be watching Leon play against somebody in practice and he makes a play, and we’re looking at the receiver like, ‘Man, you let Flanders get an interception on you?'”