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As part of the Redskins Homecoming Ceremonies on Sunday, I got to catch up with former Redskins tight end Ken Barefoot. Barefoot hails from the hotbed of pro athletes in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, home to future Redskins Chris Hanburger, Bruce Smith, Shawn Springs and DeAngelo Hall. He graduated from Virginia Tech and was drafted by his hometown team in the fifth round (113th overall) of the 1968 NFL Draft.
Barefoot was only with the Redskins for one season, and recorded no stats in his time with the team. But before you rush to judgment, Barefoot played behind tight ends Jerry Smith and Pat Richter. After leaving the Redskins, he went to Detroit and played behind future Hall of Famer Charlie Sanders.
Clearly, he knows how to pick his opportunities. But don’t expect him to be bitter–on the contrary.
“Oh, it’s fun, it’s fun,” he said with a big smile. “Getting back together, the older we get, the better we were. The plays were bigger and the scores get higher.”
As part of the ceremonies, the alumni paraded around the stadium and interacted with the tailgaters. After that, they were trotted out on the field for a group photo, met with the media, introduced in front of the full stadium, and then finally allowed to watch the game.
“I’m looking forward to good weather, good ball, and for the Redskins to throw to the tight ends more,” he said with a sly smile.
More than 40 years after he played, Barefoot still lives locally in Virginia Beach, and still cheers for his Redskins. The team even invited him up for the Philadelphia game earlier this year, an experience that he called, “A good game, bad result.”
Count Barefoot among the former players that love how the game has changed and evolved since his playing days.
“Tight ends since me are bigger, stronger, faster,” he said. “Y’know, at 235 pounds, I was considered a big tight end. Now the quarterbacks are 250. You see Vince Promuto right there? He was an offensive guard. He played at 245. Now they play at 345–and those are the athletic guys.”
In recent years, the NFL has made a concerted effort to open up the passing game, something that as a former receiver, Barefoot loves.
“Y’know, [former Redskins defensive back] Pat Fischer, when he played, he’d just latch on and ride you down the field,” he said. “It’s definitely shifted to an offensive-minded game though, and that’s fun.”
I think Chris Hanburger would disagree.