Sunday, June 29, 2008

My New Favorite Redskin

My new favorite Redskins is the second-round WR Malcolm Kelly. The physical 6-4, 219-pound Oklahoma product has great athletic potential (last two college years he averaged 56 catches for 900 yards and 10 TDs) and according to The Sporting News "Kelly possesses quick feet and shows real toughness running after the catch."

He will compete for the #2 (or X or split end) WR position, over there on the far left of this passing tree. Those routes can be be run by any of the receivers, but I foresee Malcolm "In the Middle" Kelly providing a big target for strong, smart QB Campbell on outs, curls, posts and drags.

Why I'll be pulling for him, however, has more to do with what he's doing for his summer vacation before training camp. Kelly has volunteered to go to Liberia on behalf of Mercy Ships, a Christian charity that operates hospital ships in desperate places around the world. Africa Mercy, the largest private hospital ship in the world, is the fleet's flagship and is docked in the obliterated Liberian capital, Monrovia.

Kelly explains the charity's mission:

"It was a big Army ship, but they turned it into a hospital. What they do is, they travel around the world and the people in the countries line up to get free checkups. It's everything from orthopedic surgery to dental checkups--everything they can't afford over there."

Liberia, you may recall, was founded by the American Colonization Society in 1847 with the tacit blessing of the United States government. Lincoln, no fan of miscegnation, prevaricates that "there is a moral fitness in the idea of returning to Africa her children."

He also said, in his Address on Colonization to a Committee of Colored Men,

"You and we are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other two races . . . . It is better for us both, therefore, to be separated."

Liberia's government, currency and flag is closely based on those of the U.S. Long an abandoned stepchild, three long, brutal civil wars between 1980 and 2003 have left Liberia as devastated, dangerous and poor as any country in the world. In 2005, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf became the first elected female head of state in Africa. She has the task of uniting a country that killed so many of its own men that warlords had to use child soldiers.

Mercy Ships also provide education, training and construct water wells. Malcolm Kelly explains,

"We take for granted too much over here. We take for granted that we can wake up, go to a fountain and get clean water. There are people in other countries drinking dirty water and that's what everyday life is for them. So I just want to go over and be a part of helping out."

Kelly will draw several thousand spectators when he works out with the Liberian Olympic Team.

"As I have come to know the history and spirit of the Liberian people through Mercy Ships, I feel a real connection to the country. I admire the way they are rebuilding for the future and I want to do everything I can to help them restore their country."

Such a rare delight to hear about an athlete worth many millions who is so articulate, sincere and compassionate. Very proud that young Malcolm Kelly is on my favorite team. Just don't get malaria or cholera over there, promise?

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