Consider him a product of his environment. Michael Ealy might be based on the west coast permanently now, but he lights up when recalling days watching the Redskins with his late father on Sundays. Or when he remembers the way his friend reacted after the Redskins announced that Ealy would be announcing the team's fourth-round draft pick at FedExField this Saturday.
Born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Silver Spring, Md., Ealy still has his roots deeply tied to the area, including friends and family members, and plenty of Redskins memories to spare. Known primarily for his roles in The Perfect Guy *and *Think Like A Man, as well as his television work on Almost Human *and *Being Mary Jane, the acclaimed actor jumped at the chance to announce a draft pick for his favorite team on live television.
The Redskins Blog caught up with Ealy to ask him about his preparation for Saturday, his favorite Redskins memories and how he keeps up with the team today.
Redskins Blog: I watched *The Perfect Guy *last night, so I'm a little nervous.
Michael Ealy: [Laughing] She was a Dallas fan. That's how I feel about Dallas fans, you know what I mean?
That's a good way of putting it for Redskins fans. So that would express your excitement for Saturday. How are you feeling about making the draft pick announcement?
It's funny, my wife asked me this as well, are you nervous? And I thought to myself, not yet. I probably will once I head to the stadium, because that's where the magic is. Even though I grew up going to RFK, it's still crazy once you see those uniforms. There's a sense of nostalgia that doesn't dissipate, so I think once I get there I'll probably be a little nervous.
*You've been to FedExField a few times before though, so you'll be a little familiar with your surroundings. *
Have you been able to follow the team recently or is it challenging working in Los Angeles?
The best way to follow them from the west coast is Twitter, because honestly, on the west coast, there is no talk of the Skins. Everybody is excited about the Rams and the Raiders, everybody's talking, but unless they're on a national game, it's hard for me to find them. But through Twitter and [Redskins Senior Vice President of Communications] Tony [Wyllie] that's how I pretty much keep up with the team.
The Redskins will actually be in L.A. twice this season so maybe you'll get to see them.
Yeah, now that I can probably make work. Although the problem with going to games out in L.A., it's just very hard to get to the stadium. That makes it tough. But I'm excited about that. There's really two games a year that I really look forward to and I have to try and find the game no matter what, and that's Skins-Dallas. Those are the two games a year. It's must see TV.
And you went to one of those games in Dallas recently?
Yeah, that was about five or six years ago, once the new stadium opened. Tony introduced me to the legend that is Doug Williams, and he turned out to be a big fan of mine, so I remember calling my dad from the field to tell him that I had just met Doug Williams. The smile that came across my dad's face was unbelievable. It's a long, long tradition here. Long-time fan.
"It's a huge part of my development growing up, watching Skins games with my dad."
Well, the reason for mentioning *The Perfect Guy *is because in the movie you bond with your girlfriend's father at a baseball game. Was that a similar situation with your dad growing up on the Redskins?
My dad worked his ass off. The one thing that we did bond on when I was little was the Skins games. He was usually home on Sunday and we usually watched the game. Between movies and Skins games, that was the quality time I spent with my dad. He's no longer with us, so going to announce the draft pick this weekend is kind of bittersweet because he would dream of being there for that. It's a huge part of my development growing up, watching Skins games with my dad, trying to understand the sport and wanting to play it my entire life, dreaming of being a Skins wide out as an adult. All of that was a part of my childhood.
Do you have any favorite memories watching the games with him?
Yeah, those three Super Bowls. There was no greater achievement than those three Super Bowls. Although, the year that The Fun Bunch started, the end zone dance, that was a great year to be a Skins fan, because they were really rocking it that year, and that celebration is something you could never ever forget. And it's never been duplicated.
I'd imagine you still have friends in the area. What have been their reactions to finding out you'll be making the announcement?
Here's a great answer to that question. My best friend from the age of five until ten was this guy named John, and he lived two doors down from me and then he moved away when we were 10 years old. We were best friends up until that point. We recently reconnected I think last year, and I've seen him twice since then. We now keep in touch via text and email and stuff, and he texted me when the press release came out on Facebook, and was like, "out of all of your accomplishments, this will be the one I am most proud of." I was like, this story is enough for me. I'm like, you think you're proud? This is like a childhood dream outside of actually suiting up. That's the real dream is to suit up. But outside of that, this is like the next best thing.
So that basically sums up the DMV fan base for you?
Oh man, yeah, it's crazy. I'm still tight with all my boys I grew up with from the area, and they're all in a group chat, and they're all like, "Oh my god. You think you're going to meet Riggo?" It's just crazy. It's one of those things where they were a huge part of our childhood and to be able to get to the point in your life where you can actually have access to them…we're just fans. That's what it comes down to.
Speaking of, I know Taraji P. Henson is a Redskins fan and you two worked together on Think Like A Man. Did the Redskins come up in any conversations on set?
Yeah. I had met Taraji before Think Like A Man, and found that she was from Oxon Hill, Md., and we didn't really bond until we did Think Like A Man, obviously, but we talked about the Skins a little bit, and all the D.C. sports in general. It's definitely harder for us to follow everything that happens because of the work schedule. But we're all still in there, trust me.
And she's been blowing up as a star recently.
She blew up. We're all still very proud of her. So well-deserved. Her success is a bit long overdue to be honest with you.
So take that movie's title and change it to Think Like A General Manager. What would be your plan as the draft approaches for the Redskins?
It's interesting you say that, because I was on the treadmill this morning watching Mike & Mike, and I got really excited about Rueben Foster, out of Alabama. Yeah, that dude's a monster. And our defense, we need some help, so to me that was like, if we could only get a monster like that on defense, that would be amazing.