Call it March Madness, Redskins-style. It seemed every time you turned around in the Redskins Park auditorium on Monday, another new player was headed to the podium.
The Redskins hosted three press conferences on Monday to introduce newly acquired wide receivers Antwaan Randle El and Brandon Lloyd and safety Adam Archuleta.
Up first? Randle El, fresh off a Super Bowl championship with the Pittsburgh Steelers, said that the Redskins won him over by telephoning him at 12:05 a.m. ET last Saturday morning, moments after the free agency period began.
Randle El had other suitors, to be sure. But he said no one else called him directly. Joe Gibbs even asked to talk with Randle El's wife. When Gibbs welcomed Randle El into the Redskins' "football family," he meant it.
"I felt welcome here--that was the biggest thing," Randle El said. "They really made me feel like I was number one on the list. It was all about the approach and the Redskins made that first step into the door."
Another reason to come to Washington? A Redskins' offense that has promise and potential, he said.
"Coach [Al] Saunders has been with Kansas City and put up amazing numbers [on offense]," Randle El said. "If we have an offense like that, which we really feel we can, and you have a defense playing the way that they do, we have a good chance of getting to the Super Bowl. Those were the biggest things."
A few minutes later, Archuleta arrived at the podium. He had spent nearly 10 hours the last two days visiting with defensive coaches and watching film--and he wasn't even drawing a paycheck from the Redskins yet.
Archuleta said he chose the Redskins over the Chicago Bears. (Randle El also rejected an offer from the Bears.) Archuleta used to play for Bears' head coach Lovie Smith in Chicago.
"It was a difficult decision," he said. "I have great ties and great respect for Lovie. I think everybody knows what kind of relationship we had. From day one, when Gregg Williams called me and we started talking football, I knew that Gregg had a great defensive mind. I felt like this was another guy in the NFL that I could really play for--and help me become a better player."
Archuleta also chose the Redskins because he wanted to challenge himself in a different scheme.
"I've played in a cover two system most of my life," he said. "I know that defense and sometimes you get pegged as an in-the-box safety and it kind of limits you in some ways. I knew that I would be successful going back to that system [in Chicago]. Then there was a part of me that said, 'Well, I get a chance here to be in a situation where it is a little bit more creative, I would be stretched as a player, there would be more demands on me.' I think it was more of a challenge."
By the time Brandon Lloyd arrived at the podium, he must have known he would have to entertain the media and assembled Redskins Park staff, most of whom had already attended the Randle El and Archuleta press conferences.
The "Redskins Park staff" included Randle El, who was sitting quietly in the back.
When Gibbs introduced Lloyd, Randle El abruptly stood up and cheered wildly. Everyone laughed, of course, and his applause helped answer the most-asked question of the afternoon: With so many talented receivers, is there any concern whether there will be enough passes to go around?
The question was irrelevant to Lloyd, too. He wasn't worried about fitting into the offense or fitting into the locker room.
"I am bringing more character into the locker room," he said. "That is one thing that [coaches] said: 'Go in there and be yourself and have fun.' I feel that I play my best when I am smiling and when I am laughing. I'm excited.
Lloyd said that he, Randle El and Santana Moss were "three superb wide receivers"--then added, "If I do say so myself." The remark drew plenty of laughter.
Coming from a San Francisco franchise that has struggled the last two seasons, Lloyd said he was eager for a fresh start.
"I feel like I am at the point in my career where I am ready to start winning games," he said. "I have dreams stemming from my childhood about playing in the playoffs and going to the Super Bowl. I feel that, in talking with my agent, that the 49ers are not in that stage--they are in a developmental stage. I did not start playing football to develop anybody. I have goals and dreams that I want to accomplish before my career is over."