One the floor of Radio Row, and specifically in the sectioned off quarters of the Sirius XM radio corner of San Francisco's Moscone Center, Redskins safety Duke Ihenacho caught up with The Redskins Blog in the middle of his schedule on Friday afternoon.
Before chatting, he participated in a little photo booth, a hot attraction as the NFL stars and celebrities filtered through the roped off area and documented their 15 minutes with various hosts.
Ihenacho, after spending the majority of his first two seasons with the Redskins on Injured/Reserve, is progressing with his wrist ailment and looking forward to next season and getting back on the field.
So I feel like you're in your element right here.
Like, this is very Duke.
Yeah, I'm comfortable, I'm very comfortable in this element, no question.
What's radio row like? Is this your first time?
This is my first time at radio row. You're talking about as far as like, ever?
Well yeah, last year I went to the Super Bowl in Arizona but didn't have a chance to go to radio row, and then obviously when I was playing in it, you kind of don't, you stay away from this side of Super Bowl weekend. But it's my first time, it's pretty cool, a lot of media outlets. A lot of opportunities to speak, you know what I mean? That's my element though, so I like it.
How many radio stations have you been to today?
I've only been to two so far, I think that's it. I kind of don't want to be signing autographs because what happens is everybody surrounds you, and they start, they listen to you, and as soon as you're done with the radio interview, everybody's autographs and pictures and stuff and those things can take up your day when you've got places to go.
It's usually just the media, but this is so big it kind of caters to fans.
No it's tight though, it's tight though. If I was a fan, I would love it. Yeah, it's like a convention.
You've got a couple other players out here, too -- do you like San Francisco?
I do like San Francisco because I went to school in the Bay, I went to San Jose State so I'm familiar, kind of familiar with the area. I've always liked the energy in the Bay, good people, real people.
What do you mean by real people?
Like straight up, you know what I mean? Like no façades, just like really real people that mean what they say, say what they mean and just genuinely good people. So I like the Bay, I've always liked it and this is my first time being back since like two, three years ago.
Little bit colder here, but you get to wear the coat.
It is a little colder, but it's not as cold as I thought it was going to be, so I think the weather's perfect for me because it's not too cold, but its cold enough where I can wear a coat.
I know you like your fashion, you like the winter season.
I love the winter stuff, so I've been wearing coats all week. Though, I think I like the weather out here right now, it's doing me justice.
I don't think I was able to catch up with you after the season when you were cleaning out your locker, but just looking back you've had a month or so after the season ended, what did you think of this team and where they went this year?
Man, I was proud of the guys, man. I was proud of the guys, like you know it kind of sucks when you're not out there, and you want to be out there and you feel like, especially when you feel like you could contribute and impact the game, so that sucked. I was proud of the guys, proud of the way we fought and how we just, however ugly it was, no matter if they said we didn't beat a team with a winning record or a playoff team, none of those things matter. The only thing that matters is us winning games and we won enough games to take a step in the right direction and get in the playoffs. There's only 12 teams that make the playoffs at the end of the year, it's not like basketball. You know basketball, half the league makes the playoffs, with football it just doesn't work like that. So, man, it was just crazy just seeing that come to fruition just after all the struggles in the offseason and just the uncertainty with quarterbacks and changing coaches and Jay [Gruden] being on the hot seat, you know what I'm saying? I'm proud of the way Jay just let people -- the one thing about Jay that people don't realize is that he lets us be ourselves, too. We don't really get that recognition right now because we're not winning that many games, but…"
But if he were in the national spotlight, you're saying Jay would…"
People would understand and see Jay, like he lets us be us, you know what I mean, he's not trying to step on our personalities or characteristics, and that's why I like him, that's why I like playing for him, he lets me be me. Because as you know, I have a strong personality, strong character and he doesn't try to subsidize that by any means, so I like playing for him and I think that he did a good job just directing us in the right direction, having to deal with the media and just his decision to start Kirk, that was big, that was a gutsy decision. Earlier in the year, people thought like he was crazy, and I was like "Yo, I don't know what you're doing Jay, but let's go." He's doing it, so I think that's the most important thing, everybody got behind his decision, everybody got behind Kirk.
How's the wrist doing?
It's good man, its good, like every day I rehab, rehab in Burbank.
Yeah, so rehab and train, rehab and train, getting my grip strength back, getting my flexibility back, and my range of motion back and I just got to relearn how to grab and not have to think about it. Every week I kind of lift a little bit more weight with it, so it's challenging but it's kind of fun seeing the progress I'm making. And I'm pretty sure I'm going to look back on this a year from now and be like "Yeah, I really put in the work."
Yeah, you've got two lost years, you're ready to…
Yeah man, I'm humbled, I'm humbled.
By the way, there's a lot of Denver Bronco fans out here. Dashon Goldson got a lot of love from the 49ers fans. Do you get fans coming up to you that remember your time with Denver?
Like people still think I play for the Broncos, people have no idea. Like I just did a full interview and he was all "Oh you play for the Broncos." Nah, but I still get love from some Bronco fans for sure.
So they thought you were in the Super Bowl?
Yeah, they were like "What are you doing out here?" and I was like "I used to play," but I still get love from them,. It's probably not to the same magnitude of Dashon because he's from the area, but I definitely get love still.
Craziest person you've seen out here, or most star struck you've been?
No, I don't get star struck anymore.
Not star struck?
I haven't been star struck. I'm from LA, its normal, I don't get star struck. We see stars every day.
Is there anybody that you would get star struck by?
"Nobody. I've seen everybody, you know, I can't really tell you too many things
Not even, say, Jerry Rice?
Nah, I saw Jerry Rice when I was in high school. So no, I've seen Jerry Rice, I went to Sierra where my high school had a lot of guys go pro and go to college. I've been around Peyton Manning, been around Champ Bailey, so you know, it's like you don't really get star struck anymore once you get to this level. And like maybe if I didn't live in LA or I wasn't from LA and everybody wasn't so reachable, seeing guys everyday just like having lunch.
So that's why you're cool around here?
Yeah, so it's like, that's what's up.