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How Washington's Words Aided Umenyiora


There are all sorts of ties between the Redskins and Super Bowl XLII.

But the best story that involves the Redskins and Sunday's championship game in the Arizona desert concerns Marcus Washington and the advice he once invested in Giants' Osi Umenyiora.

Now that Umenyiora is an established star and now that his Giants are just a matter of days from taking on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, that story bears re-telling.

One day, when Washington was a student at Auburn High School in Auburn, Ala., he looked around his class--an Art Class at that--and spotted an imposing younger student across the room.

That youngster turned out to be Umenyiora, who is of Nigerian descent but grew up in London before moving with his family to Alabama at a tender age.

Eventually, Washington got up the nerve to ask his younger classmate, "Why don't you try football?"

Washington told that story two years ago before a Redskins-Giants game.

The suggestion turned out to be the inspiration that launched the high school, college (Troy State) and NFL career of Umenyiora, now a 6-3, 261-pound Pro Bowl defensive end who hopes to make life difficult for Tom Brady and the Patriots on Sunday in Glendale, Ariz.

Umenyiora, now in his fifth NFL campaign, had a career year in 2005, with 14.5 sacks. This year, he finished the regular season with 13 sacks, including an amazing six in one game, a 16-3 drubbing of Philadelphia in Week 4.

His battles with Redskins left tackle Chris Samuels have become something to behold.

Samuels and the Redskins shut out Umenyiora in terms of sacks in both Redskins-Giants games in 2007.

The New York pass-rushing specialist had five tackles in the Giants' 24-17 win at FedExField on Week 3 but he did not have a tackle on Week 15, when the Redskins won at the Meadowlands 22-10.

Washington, Umenyiora and DeMarcus Ware of the Cowboys, a teammate of Umenyiora's at Troy State, are friends who occasionally participate in the same charity events in Alabama.

Washington and Ware won't be sporting Super Bowl XLII rings, but Umenyiora still has a fighting chance.

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