Another day at the office

11-23-03, 4:40 a.m.

It's not exactly all glitz and glamour. In fact, not much of it is. It's more like taking in traffic jams on Interstate 75 South and take-out food. In his weekly diary of a NFL rookie, Bengals wide receiver Kelley Washington takes a look at his typical week during the season.

Since I played baseball in the minors for about four years, I know what it takes to be a professional and to be focused on what you have to get done. This is the start of your career. You can't get it sidetracked right out of the gate. I can't worry about girls, parties, clubs. They're paying me to play football. If I'm not here, my family doesn't eat.

The toughest adjustment is practice. I told Lawrence Hamilton, another rookie receiver who is my roommate, that this isn't college anymore. No maids are coming into clean the apartment. We're grown men.

You can't go to practice hung over or sluggish because when you're a rookie, practice is where you prove yourself. You can't have two consecutive bad days out there. If you're out there flying around, everyone notices. They're out there watching. From the Browns to Coach Lewis to the rest of the coaches.

When we win on Sunday, we can get our lifting in either Monday or Tuesday. I like to get it out of the way early on Monday, so I drive over from our apartment in Crestview Hills in Kentucky around 10, and I've got a routine going pretty much for each day. On Mondays, right after I lift, I go wash my car. I like to keep things clean and I've got a white SUV that I spent a lot of money on,

so I like to make sure I keep it nice. Then I go up to Tri-County Mall to do some shopping. I go by myself to get away from everything, just to breathe a little bit.

I like to buy clothes, so I always go into the men's store up there, Henry's, talk to the guys a little bit in there. I like to look good out in the community or whenever we travel, so I usually buy suits or sporting outfits. I also bought some sneakers and with the holidays coming up, I got my mom a purse.

When I went into the Nextel store, the people in there wanted to talk about how well we're doing. Ever since I got drafted, people have recognized me around town, but when you're winning more people come over and talk and everybody is happy. The people who work at the mall are kind of getting used to seeing me and we're talking as I'm walking around.

On Monday night, Lawrence and I go out to eat at either the Friday's right down the road a couple of miles from the apartment we rent, or the Applebee's, and we watch the Monday Night game, and then head back home.

Tuesday is our day off, the day we get to sleep in and I usually don't get up until 1 o'clock. I clean the apartment, vacuum, take out the trash. I like things neat, so I've usually got the place picked up and smelling good and Tuesday is the day to do it. We usually just stay around the apartment chilling, getting a pizza delivered and playing video games. We don't really watch TV, and we don't go out Mondays and Tuesdays. We just get away from it. Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays are really intense and you've got to be fresh.

Wednesday starts for me with kickoff and kick return meeting at 8:15, so I make sure I get there around 7:30. When you've been off for a few days, you want to get there a little early to get back into it. At 9 o'clock it all starts with the team meeting, and then we break into the offense to go over the scouting report of the opponent, our plays, and our assignments that we're going to do in the game.

Then we have a walk through at 11:15, eat lunch at 11:45, and meet with the other receivers at 12:30 to watch tape of the opponent. Special teams have to be on the field early, so I'm out there at 1:30, and then practice goes from 2 to 4:15. I usually come in and get in a cold tub for my legs, take a shower, and then I might watch a little extra tape upstairs in the receivers room, then go home.

I usually get caught in traffic on I-75 South and it takes about 20 to 30 minutes to get home. We don't cook at our house. We've got a few hot pockets, but that's about it. On Wednesday and Thursday nights, I usually stop by my favorite place, Popeye's, and get us a couple of orders.

We call Thursday our "Hell Day." We've got to be up at 6 a.m. because the rookies have to lift at 6:45, and then we go into the player lounge and try to get some nap time at 7:30 before the 8:15 meeting. Then it's pretty much the same schedule, but there are more specific things to do on Thursdays, which is our two-minute, no-huddle day.

That night, you basically just want to crash. We're not much for watching TV. We pretty much just play the video games, and then Lawrence goes into his room and is probably on the phone talking and I go into my room to listen to music. I like slow, mellow music to relax my mind. R and B stuff like Jaheim or R Kelly.

Fridays are short. We usually can get out of there by 1:30 or 2 because we practice at 11:15 after having pretty much the same meeting times in the morning. Then Willie Anderson has a tradition going this year where the offense goes to eat for a team meeting at about 3 p.m.

We're something like 5-0 when we've done it and most of the guys have been going. We spread it around to different places. We've been to Jillian's, Behl Street Café, and the Waterfront.

They have been great because you end up talking to guys you might not usually spend some time with. We talk about everything. Football, girls, college. Like I talk to the offensive line because they kid me about doing some crazy dances in the end zone and being a little bit of a showboat. You look at a guy like me and a guy like Matt O'Dwyer, and you'd think there couldn't be two more different guys.

But he kids me and I kid him. He wants to get a car like mine, so we've been talking about that, how good it is on gas. He knows where I went to college, and I know that he played on the Jets before he came here. It's good for a team when you can do things like that.

Friday night is the night to go out, but it can't be that late because you have to be in there pretty much the same time Saturday morning. We usually go to Main Street in downtown Cincinnati and go to a few places there. My favorite is "The Claw," and it's usually pretty crowded with good music.

And when you're winning, it seems like everybody is in a good mood when they're talking to you, so that can be fun. I don't go out after home games usually. My family comes back to the apartment and my mom cooks dinner for Lawrence and I.

I guess people talk about living in the fast lane and all that stuff about being in the NFL, but I don't really see it that way. To me, the best part about this year has been the football. Seeing my face on ESPN, or listening to guys like John Madden, Michael Irvin and the guys on TV talking about the Bengals and how we've got a chance to win the division and go the playoffs. I never thought I would play college football. So to be going through this as a rookie has really been something I had only dreamed about.

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