ASHBURN, Va. Chris Cooley sat on a couch just inside the doors of the Washington Redskins headquarters early last week.
On a wall above the All-Pro tight end is a color photograph of the Redskins Super Bowl XXVI victory.
A few yards away, on the other side of the reception desk, are the three Super Bowl trophies won by the Redskins.
Cooley, 26, a former Utah State standout who attended Logan High, was taking a break between morning and afternoon practice sessions at Redskins Park.
He wore his No. 47 jersey, shoulder pads and shorts, and had his cleats propped up on a small table. Some of his teammates were downstairs being interviewed by the local media while others were eating lunch.
But Cooley, in his fifth season with the Redskins, was not studying the playbook of head coach Jim Zorn or reading newspaper accounts of the team's ugly 47-3 preseason loss at Charlotte.
Instead, the personable NFL veteran was typing on his laptop, a fairly common pursuit for Cooley when he has some downtime.
Cooley, with the help of his brother and a friend, has his own blog chriscooley47.blogspot.com. It just adds to the allure of "Captain Chaos," the nickname for one of the team's most popular players. Cooley gives fans a behind-the-scenes look at the life of a pro athlete.
"I am very comfortable with myself. I try not to hide myself. We have a perfect format for the blog," Cooley said. It takes about one hour for him to post an entry with photos.
Another popular Washington athlete, Gilbert Arenas of the NBA's Washington Wizards, also has his own blog. "The main difference is Gilbert dictates his blog, and I write my blog," said Cooley, who has not met Arenas.
Cooley had 66 catches last year and was named to the Pro Bowl. He had 37 catches as a rookie in 2004, 71 in 2005 and 57 in 2006.
"As time went on that year, we started to figure out more ways to get him the ball because he was proving to be a winner in the red area and win a lot of other situations," Redskins tight ends coach Rennie Simmons told The Washington Times about Cooley's rookie season.
Cooley was an all-state selection at Logan High, where he caught 46 passes for 625 yards as a senior.
Utah State was the only Division I school to recruit him. He mostly sat on the bench early in his career and had just three catches as a sophomore. But he had 31 catches as a junior and then led the nation in catches by a tight end with 62 as a senior.
"By his junior year he was so reliable," said former Utah State assistant Mike Lynch, now the wide receivers coach at Eastern Illinois. "He caught everything we threw to him. We had a ton of confidence in him. We built everything around him his senior year."
Cooley was the first non-receiver to lead Utah State in catches since 1983. He was an all-conference player in the Sun Belt and was a finalist for the Mackey Award, given to the nation's top tight end.
"I am really proud of what he has done," Lynch said. "He is a special kid. I have his rookie (NFL trading) card up on my shelf here. He is not one of those guys who made it big then forgot where he came from."
Cooley said he learned a lot in college from teammate Kevin Curtis, a veteran NFL wide receiver. Cooley did not dream of an NFL career when he entered college.
"It just happened. It evolved very quickly," he said. "It was a fun time. I enjoyed every part of school. It is home to me. I had a blast. My goal was to graduate, and I wanted to teach and coach. I was happy to be somewhere and still playing football."
Now he is playing for Zorn, the former Seattle quarterback, after four years with the legendary Joe Gibbs.
What does Cooley think of Zorn? "I think everyone likes Jim. It is a lot different style of coaching than Gibbs. He is easygoing, but he is more of a rules guy," said Cooley, who noted Zorn, himself a former Utah State assistant, fined some players who showed up late to practice Monday. "I never heard of any fines when Gibbs was here."
These days Cooley, a third-round draft pick of the Skins in 2004, has fewer ties to Utah. He is married to Christy, a former Redskins' cheerleader, and they have a home in northern Virginia. Their wedding in May was featured in The Reliable Source, the society column in The Washington Post. Cooley took some heat when he posted some revealing photos of Christy on his blog just days before their wedding.
His mother, Nancy, and younger brother, Tanner, have also moved to northern Virginia. Nancy Cooley, who is divorced from his father, Ken, is a schoolteacher at a local high school, and Tanner, who also played at Utah State, hopes to attend medical school at Georgetown University, Cooley said.
"My mom felt like there were only so many years I was going to play football. She wanted to be a part of that," Cooley said. "There was no reason for her to miss every home game. That is why she did that. It is a great place to live."
Cooley said he returns to Utah State for an annual alumni golf tournament. He also speaks regularly with Lynch.
After an eventful off-season, with a wedding, new coach and blog, Cooley is ready to play football. The Redskins begin the regular season schedule Thursday at the world champion New York Giants."I think we have a great team. I am excited," he said. "I think we have a ton to look forward to. I cannot wait to starting playing games, real games."
Editor's note: David Driver is a freelance writer in Maryland and has covered sports in Washington for 20 years. He can be reached through his Web site at " TARGET="_blank">www.davidsdriver.com