'MeAngelo' no more; DeAngelo Hall retires an invaluable leader

Chris Russell
May 14, 2018 - 5:44 pm
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DeAngelo Hall came to Washington with a reputation. He retired from the National Football League on Monday, after 14 seasons, with 43 interceptions.

Per Adam Schefter, who broke the news, only Ed Reed (52), Charles Woodson (50) and Asante Samuel (49) had more interceptions since the time Hall entered the league as a Top-10 pick of the Atlanta Falcons out of Virginia Tech in 2004.

Hall did a lot more than just rack up a bunch of picks. His career should be defined in a better way.

Many Redskins fans simply do not appreciate Hall because his presence in Washington did not lead to enough wins. He joined the burgundy and gold in 2008 and saw  many more losses than victories.

As a cornerback and then safety, you can only control so much.

Quite honestly, those who hold it against Hall for a lack of wins during his tenure don't know much about football to begin with, so there’s that.

What Hall did was grow as a leader, as a player and as a man.

I was lucky to cover almost his entire tenure in Washington outside of his arrival.

When he signed with the Redskins, and especially when he inked a long-term extension, I laughed and I snickered. I thought it was a typical, blustery headline Redskins move.

As it turns out – they were right, and I was wrong.

Hall came to the Redskins after getting booted from Oakland in half a season, which at the time was like me walking away from a buffet. It seemed like a match made in heaven, a perfect fit.

Even the silver and black had turned their backs. Yet, slowly but surely, "Me-Angelo" -- as he was known at the time -- not only grew into DeAngelo, but he became a man, a leader, a captain and a dad.

Hall’s tenure in Washington was not without some controversy. His contract situation (along with Albert Haynesworth) became the subject of a $36 million salary cap penalty levied against Bruce Allen and the Redskins in 2012 and 2013. Hall did nothing wrong, but the Redskins never received permission from the NFL to essentially violate the spirit of the uncapped year.

Hall had some significant injuries that derailed the back end of his career and led to many frustrations among the fan base, but, overall, his contributions -- both measurable and intangible -- proved much more significant.

Hall played in 106 games with Washington, racking up 23 of his 43 interceptions with three pick-sixes, eight forced fumbles, nine fumble recoveries, 82 passes defended and three more touchdowns.

His impact was much greater in the building, in the locker room and in the influence he had on certain teammates. Hall was chosen by the Redskins as their 2017 Ed Block Courage Award winner, given to a player who displays "extraordinary courage in the face of adversity."

He overcame two torn Achilles, a toe problem, and a torn ACL in the latter stages of his career, to keep fighting to get back on the field and help the Redskins win a game in Seattle last year that they had no business winning.

Hall took DeSean Jackson and other teammates under his wing and guidance, helping not only recruit them to the Redskins but also teach them from the mistakes of his past.

Hall's impact was beyond noticeable and players of various positions would often credit him in their success.

For all the turbulent waters that have enveloped Allen’s reign as general manager and Redskins president, Hall has been an invaluable resource. Several times Allen's referred to Hall as his "assistant general manager," which might cause your eyes to roll, but I often felt that Hall had a savvy eye for what it took to make it in the NFL.

Hall even defended and advocated for Jim Haslett, the Redskins former defensive coordinator, who many fans incorrectly blamed for all of their defensive woes. Hall said Haslett was held back by former head coach Mike Shanahan, which didn't exactly endear him to an angry fan base.

There were many more big moments for Hall. A four-interception performance against Jay Cutler in Chicago in 2010 stands out, and a huge fumble return in the first game of the Shanahan era against the Cowboys does as well.

"MeAngelo" grew into everything "DeAngelo" was expected to be and more in Washington. He did what many said he could not. He didn't do it the easy way. He failed and failed again. But he found success and made a ton of money before his body failed him.

In the end, DeAngelo Hall emerged as a winner.

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