For most NFL rookies, draft day is both an exciting and nerve-racking experience. But for Redskins rookie Josh LeRibeus, it was also a confusing one.
There he was on day two of this year's draft, hoping to get picked up by a team and worried no one would select him until the third and final day. Then, during the third round, the phone rings, answering his prayers. His wait is over, and he's going to be drafted earlier than he expected. The voice on the other end tells him: "Josh, just hang on the phone, we're going to have coach talk to you."
There was just one problem – he didn't know which coach. In all of the excitement and confusion, he didn't actually know what team was drafting him.
"I look right up as I answer the phone and the Buffalo Bills, they have their pick coming up," said LeRibeus. "It just switched to Buffalo. I'm like, 'Oh [shoot]!'"
Outside of being a big fan of Buffalo wings, LeRibeus didn't know much about that part of the country. However, having grown up a Denver Broncos fan, he was thrilled to learn he'd been selected by Mike Shanahan. Prior to that phone call, LeRibeus didn't even know Washington was interested in him, though he would later find out they had talked to his coach at Southern Methodist the day before the draft.
In his excitement over getting drafted, the rookie dropped some colorful language twice in a televised interview. And even though he dropped more language in this interview recounting his draft day experience, swearing is something he's trying to stop doing since that infamous interview.
"I've caught myself for the most part," said LeRibeus. "The 'Sugar Honey Ice Tea' word comes out now and then. I try to refrain from the f-bomb. I catch myself with the f-bomb almost every time now."
You can forgive LeRibeus for getting a little overexcited. After all, even though he's played football all his life and he weighed in at a robust 50 pounds on his second birthday, he didn't think he'd end up in the NFL.
Growing up in Clute, Texas, the "mosquito capital of the world," football was always a big part of LeRibeus' life, but he didn't think he'd make it to the highest level. Even when he was recruited by SMU and other noteworthy programs like Baylor, Boston College and Stanford showed interest, he still thought he'd graduate college with a degree in sociology and would go on to coach high school football somewhere in Texas.
"I knew I had some talent. To be honest with you, it never sunk in until my senior year of college at SMU," LeRibeus said.
He said it was three games into his senior season when SMU head coach Junes Jones told him the scouts were there to see him and not his teammates like he had assumed. The rest, as they say, is history.
The life of a NFL rookie can be a strange one. LeRibeus practices with the team and is there for all of the games, but he has yet to see any playing time during the regular season. This past Sunday's game was the first time he was actually taken off of the inactive list, though he wasn't used in the game. Still, every week he has to approach the games as if he will start.
"I have to be ready because technically all the way up until an hour and a half before the game, they can activate you," LeRibeus said.
His first game being active didn't feel much different from the previous three, though he remembers being more alert.
"I guess you pay a lot more attention if guys go down or not, but luckily we didn't have anybody [get hurt]," he said. "From that point a view, it's kind of a relaxing day." Though, he admits, the rest of the game, which came down to a last minute field goal by Billy Cundiff for a thrilling 24-22 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was anything but relaxing.
One of the other strange responsibilities rookies have during their inaugural season is putting on a rookie skit for the veteran players. For LeRibeus, this was a chance to reenact his all-time favorite moment from Saturday Night Live – Chris Farley's Chippendales skit. For those unfamiliar, the sketch involves the rotund Farley competing against the much more svelte Patrick Swayze for a job as a Chippendales dancer.
For three days, LeRibeus spent the hour and a half break between team meetings practicing his stripper moves. Surprisingly, his teammates didn't appreciate the sight of 315-pound LeRibeus dancing in nothing but is Under Armour shorts and a button up shirt.
"My heart was going a million miles an hour going up there," LeRibeus said. "I'm doing my little moves. I'm going back and forth. I give them a provocative look back over my shoulder and then turn around and just rip the shirt off, whip it between my legs and throw it. That's when I proceeded to get boo after boo after boo."
His teammates booed him off the stage.
"They didn't appreciate it as much as I thought they would," LeRibeus said.
There was a silver lining to the whole thing though. Normally, rookies who are booed offstage have to go back up and perform again. But after promising to return to the stage in a bathrobe, his teammates gave him a pass.
"It had good promise — doing the whole Chris Farley skit," said center Will Montgomery. "But I'm not sure many people knew what he was doing, so it just kind of looked like some weird striptease. I'm thinking that's what turned about 90 percent of the people off, but there was about 10 percent who appreciated what he was trying to do."
Redskins guard Kory Lichtensteiger felt the rookie was simply outmatched by his competition.
"I think in a normal year it would have been okay, but the first group set the bar so high that with the Mike Shanahan, Paul Kelly and Shannon Sharpe impressions," Lichtensteiger said.
Though he was quick to add that, despite his teammate's questionable choice in skits, he sees a bright future ahead for LeRibeus.
"He's going to be a really good player. He's got pretty much all of the tools that you need, especially in this offense," said Lichtensteiger.
When he's not doing stripteases in front of his teammates or dropping colorful language on live-television, LeRibeus likes to spend quiet nights at home with his girlfriend Naomi, who he met at SMU. The two love playing Monopoly together.
"Every time my girlfriend comes up, that's what we do. We've got to get at least one game in," he said. "It makes watching reality television go by a little quicker."
At times though, the competition can get a bit heated. LeRibeus said he normally wins their Monopoly games, which they play on his Nintendo-themed Monopoly board, but he has to be careful not to gloat too much. At times, he said, she'll give him a heated glare when she lands on one of his properties.
"I'm not allowed to say much," LeRibeus said. "Don't look her directly in the eyes and you might get your money."
He was quick to add something else too.
"Make sure after the Monopoly stuff, if you want to slide in there that he loves his girlfriend very, very much," he said. "I'm not sure how she'll react to [mentioning her] glares in Monopoly, but it's the truth and I wouldn't want to lie. She wouldn't want me to lie."
Such is life with LeRibeus. At home and at work, for better or worse, what you see is what you get. He might be a little rough around the edges at times, but clearly the coaching staff saw something in him to warrant using a third-round draft pick.
And if he's such an entertaining character now – without having even played his first NFL snap – just imagine what he'll be like once he works his way into the lineup. Let's just hope that when that day comes, the television feed is on a seven-second delay.