Redskins defensive lineman Kedric Golston entered the team's locker room early one morning last week and saw a vision of what his life might be like during retirement.
Awaiting him in front of his locker was a rocking chair, replacing his usual stool, which had been painted in burgundy and displayed his name and the team logo upon some brown leather padding. Golston couldn't believe it.
"I didn't even notice it at all," Golston said when he first entered the room. "I wasn't expecting it and I was walking in and Shaun Lauvao was like, 'What's up with the chair?' and I'm like, 'What chair?' When I looked at it, it was just total shock and surprise. The wheels started turning and I could kind of connect the dots. Real cool present."
The dots were laid out for a while. He and his buddy Rob Esterbrook had listened to CSN's Chick Hernandez and Tarik El-Bashir joke that Golston should have a rocking chair graphic by his name on TV considering he's the longest-tenured player on the team, heading into his 11th season. Golston "got a good chuckle" from that suggestion, but didn't think much of it.
Rob, however, took it to heart. He purchased a rocking chair from Cracker Barrel shortly after and whipped it into shape, giving it some three-step paint treatment and adding the necessary adornments. Golston celebrated his 33rd birthday over the Memorial Day weekend, so the timing to deliver it to Redskins Park was ideal.
For that, he needed the aid of someone on the "inside," which happened to be Trent Williams. The quarterback spoke with Crystal Golston, Kedric's wife, and let her into the building so he could place it beside Golston's locker.
Crystal told Cousins that her husband usually arrived at the facility by 7 a.m., so Cousins got there five minutes early the next day, hoping to capture the moment on camera.
"I got here at 6:55 thinking he wasn't here yet, and the chair had been turned around, and sure enough as I go to my locker he had already been here and I saw him walk out of the equipment room," Cousins said. "So I missed the moment when he walked in and noticed that. I was hoping to get that on film on my iPhone.
"I think he appreciated it," Cousins said. "When I heard the idea I was all about it."
Check out images from the Washington Redskins' defense and special teams during their eighth day of OTAs at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.
Golston says he plans to put it in his basement once his playing career is over, which means the chair will stay by his locker for at least this season. While his teammates will hunch over to change or talk on the phone or give interviews, Golston will lean back and rock.
It is the reward for his 10 years in the league and maybe a prop to fit the caricature – "Uncle Ked" -- that he is called by his teammates. Golston still has some "tread on the tire," as defensive coordinator Joe Barry said last month, but he's wary of that grandfatherly (in NFL years) image bleeding onto the field.
"That stuff is fine and good when we're off the field. There's a certain level of expectation that they have and that I have for myself and so that's all fun and good," Golston said. "[But] I'm here to perform at a high level, first and foremost, on the field. And secondly, I've been here for a while. I've seen some ups, I've seen some downs. So, to be able to give some of that stuff back on the other side of that, for some of the other guys to keep their energy up, it's a natural relationship. I'm just fortunate to be in that situation to continue to help this team compete at a high level.
"You understand and embrace where you're at in your career, but at the end of the day, you understand that it's a production business. And you have to produce at a high level because that's your worth to the team."
So consider the chair an upgrade for his post-practice relaxation, a tribute to his years of service, and not a hint to slow his life down, or a suggestion that he's too old to be playing with the younger kids.
"A guy that's played that long deserves a rocking chair," Cousins said.
That's all there is to it.