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Famous Fans: Wale


An award-winning rapper, Wale's earliest childhood memories include watching the Redskins defeat the Broncos in Super Bowl XXII. He's loved the team ever since. He caught up with's Brian Tinsman during the team's 2012 training camp for this piece.

**One of the DMV's finest, rapper Olubowale Victor Akintimehin – or simply Wale – certainly isn't shy about flaunting the burgundy and gold.

Wale grew up in a one-bedroom apartment with his parents in northwest Washington, D.C. One of his earliest childhood memories was watching Doug Williams and the Redskins thrash the Broncos in Super Bowl XXII.

He was barely old enough to remember it, but football was one of the few special occasions when his whole family could come together.

"My parents were always at work, and I never got to spend much time with them," he remembered. "My dad was a taxi driver and my mom was a nurse, so when the Redskins were winning, the fact that they were even home together and we were all sitting as a family watching something was a joy to me. To see the excitement on their faces – I'd never seen that in the early stage of my life.

"So from that point on I was like, I know this is my team."

Wale has consistently been one of the team's biggest celebrity fanatics, publicly representing his team and city even when it hasn't been easy or popular to do so. As he told during the team's 2012 training camp, he's been through the "long-face Mondays after a Redskins three-point loss," but predicted a golden era for Washington football is right around the corner.

"I think our glory years is coming, I can feel it. I think RG3 is gonna bring some swag to the team," he said while standing on the 50-yard line of the team's indoor practice facility. "I mean, I'm gonna do my part. I just don't like people abandoning my team."

Wale must've been on to something. That 2012 team – led by RG3, who was named the league's Offensive Rookie of the Year – went on to claim its first NFC East title since 1999.

Since the days of rap group N.W.A. wearing L.A./Oakland Raiders gear, the rap industry and NFL have been closely intertwined, with some artists adopting the colors of whatever team is hottest at the moment.

As a quasi-official ambassador of Redskins football in the music industry, Wale has had to answer for the tribulations of the team in recent seasons.

"It's a direct association, man," he said, shaking his head. "Like in rap, every rapper that watches sports is like, 'Yo! What's up with your 'Skins?!' It's like a synonymous thing right now – you are who you watch."

Despite enduring three-consecutive losing seasons, Wale was ecstatic in 2012 when news broke of the trade with the St. Louis Rams for the No. 2 overall pick, which the Redskins used on quarterback Robert Griffin III.

"I had the same feeling as when the Wizards won the NBA lottery to get No. 1 for John Wall – that was the same feeling," Wale remembered. "I think it was Twitter that I found out, and it was just such an intense emotion."

Wale's next move was to book tickets to the 2012 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall. Even as a lifelong NFL fan, Wale had never been to the draft, and was part of an overwhelming Redskins contingent on the first night.

"I couldn't even really think about anything else, but our future with RG3," he said. "I'm such a football dude that like, I know 40 percent of the players drafted in all seven rounds, but I couldn't think about anything but my team."

The only drawback to being at the draft was the nervous anticipation Wale had while the Indianapolis Colts were on the clock. As the seconds ticked away, Wale said he let himself briefly imagine a future without Griffin III.

"You know how sometimes you kinda make yourself crazy on purpose?" he asked, rhetorically. "You Google like 'other options for the Redskins.' And it tells you the rumor is that the Redskins are going to trade down and get Ryan Tannehill? I actually started thinking like, maybe the Colts might get Griffin for a second."

Now that Griffin III is safely secured in the burgundy and gold, Wale couldn't be happier with the direction of the Redskins, and is planning his wardrobe accessories accordingly.

"You'll love this, I'm getting this Redskins chain made," he said. "It's the emblem and it's iced out. It's costing a lot of money, but I'ma rep my team wherever I go, and they gonna know."

Wale also suggested that the Redskins try an alternate-color away jersey in the near future, just to get the fan base something to get fired up about.

"There's a lot of Cowboys fans in this area, so I think a new jersey color might help out a little bit with the younger crowd."

Whatever it takes,Wale wants to replicate the old RFK Stadium experience at FedExField, and get the Redskins fans to pack the house.

"I just want the stadium to be jumping, man," he said. "I'll even take the fair-weather fans and Cowboy converts. We don't really need 'em, but I like strength in numbers."


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