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Dick Harmon: John Beck waging loud campaign in Washington

Published: Wednesday, May 25 2011 1:14 p.m. MDT

Washington Redskins quarterbacks from left Richard Bartel, Donovan McNabb and John Beck, gather at the NFL football team's training camp at Redskins Park,  Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2010, in Ashburn, Va.  (Associated Press) Washington Redskins quarterbacks from left Richard Bartel, Donovan McNabb and John Beck, gather at the NFL football team's training camp at Redskins Park, Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2010, in Ashburn, Va. (Associated Press)

There may be an NFL lockout, but John Beck is locked in.

The former BYU quarterback, who made stops in Miami and Baltimore before landing in Washington, D.C., has been on a media tear the past two weeks — drifting from his familiar, self-effacing approach.

This is a Beck we haven't seen before. He's been so company-line, such a pleaser, not much of a salty pirate in him. Until now.

But no, this is Beck, The Reborn, Beck the Round Table Builder. He's King Arthur on a crusade for a cause — his cause.

Beck is drawing attention. His quotes are bold and so are his actions: Calling Redskins draft picks, giving them playbooks, organizing player-only practices, telling the media and Redskins fans he can't worry about the feelings of other QBs, that he's the guy. It's his turn.

He's grabbed the keys and jumped into the driver's seat. He's Beck the Usurper — sort of.

He flew in from San Diego to be front and center at three sessions this week. To get everyone there, it took some work on Facebook, texting, phone calls and email.

"I contacted everybody on offense," Beck told me after Tuesday's practice, which he helped organize without management.

Beck is actively seeking, politicking and campaigning for the starting job with the Redskins. He's acting like the starter right now, and reports out of D.C. say players like it.

Well, the job hasn't officially been bestowed upon him, but Beck isn't waiting for the lockout to end to make his case.

In a radio interview with Rich Gannon on NFL Sirus Radio XM and 106.7 The Fan in D.C., Beck spared no feelings in saying he simply doesn't care about stepping on toes. He wants to start and believes it is his job.

That the Redskins benched and seemed on the outs with Donovan McNabb, Beck said it was great, a good thing.

"I have to say I'm glad it happened," Beck told the radio audience. "If I want my opportunity, I have to have stuff like this happen so I can get an opportunity.

"If McNabb stays as starter of the Washington Redskins, I remain a backup and I want to be a starter," he said "So, I have to hope for things like this to happen."

I like it.

And Beck added, "I'll call whoever, try to set whatever up. If you don't think like a starter and act like a starter, your teammates probably aren't gonna believe you're the starter. So I'm thinking I'm the starter."

Even on the phone Tuesday, a continent away from his wife Barb and three sons, one of them an infant, he sounded like Huck Finn looking for a fishing pole. Beck's determination to start is intrepid and his demeanor feisty. He was confident the job is his.

Now, will we see him act more like Jim McMahon in the huddle?

I like the "talking Beck." It's about time we see this out of the 29-year-old vet whose words are obviously carefully placed to do his bidding in a town built on campaigns, lofty speeches and loquacious politics, even if he has little playing time to warrant such talk.

There are doubters. There always have been in his career. His NFL resume is light, even if some of it isn't his fault. The Miami thing turned bad because the Dolphins were terrible and he didn't have a chance once management changed and drafted their own favorites.

But one thing about Beck, he shut up, stood with a clipboard, bided his time and learned.

He's tired of drawing a paycheck without getting bruised.

Beck told me all this really started last March when he came to the Redskins. He said he wanted to be No. 1.

Perhaps he is emboldened because Redskins coach Mike Shanahan had him ahead of JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn in his QB draft that year.

"I'm just trying to have the right mindset going in because if you don't believe you're going to be the starter, you'll probably not," he said.

The D.C. press has been smitten by Beck, but he says it's just the lockout and they've got nothing to cover, so he's filling a void.

When he grew a mullet this past year, it made headlines, columns and Internet blogs. The fact he is a hunter and fisherman has drawn fun comedy, including a photo gallery in one reporter's blog that trumpeted that Beck liked making animals die.

Beck's zeal for the game hasn't gone unnoticed and has even inspired some fans — maybe the guy really deserves to start, some say. He's got a William Wallace thing going this spring.

Anthony Schneck of Sportsology nicknamed Beck "The Warrior Prince."

Beck's recent radio words, someone declared, should be keyed up to NFL Films, with music in the background. Here they are:

"I love football. I love playing the game. I love standing in there on third down and getting whacked in the chin and completing a pass and quieting the crowd. When you're playing on the road and it's third down and they're screaming, and you can rip a pass in there and get it and shut 'em all up, I love it.

"I love scoring a touchdown and knowing exactly what that person that I threw the touchdown pass to put into it. I like knowing that my O-line never gets to touch the football, but they're busting their butts because they want to win, and they're OK with not touching the football.

"I love seeing everybody excited. I love the feeling after the game when you've put in all that work and you won. And at times, even though I hate losing, sometimes I love the feeling after a loss, when you say you know what, that sucked, and I never want that to happen again. Let's find a way to work even harder. Let's find a way to play even better so we can go out there and win next week. Sometimes I love that feeling.

"There are SO many feelings that I have missed because I haven't been able to be the guy. I've been the backup. I can't tell you, I'm so excited for the first time in a real game that I get drilled under the chin while throwing the ball. I'm probably gonna smile, because I've missed it so much."

The Redskins had 41 players show up for player-only practice on Tuesday. That included 10 of 12 rookies and an 11th would have been there but he had flight issues.

"We'll have other practices Wednesday and Thursday before we go home," said Beck. "Then we'll have to decide when to get back again. I threw twice last week is all. That isn't enough, not at this level. The lockout is out of our control and yes, we have to wait and see, but there is no vacation this summer because of it."

He does plan on doing his summer football camps in Utah with his former Cougar teammates like The General, Cameron Jensen.

"I can't just wrap up mini-camps and practices and go take July off like usual," Beck said. "It doesn't work that way."

That a boy, John.

I could get used to this new D.C. Warrior Prince.

It would help greatly if he started, and the Redskins won.

email: dharmon@desnews.com

Twitter: Harmonwrites

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