DeAngelo Hall may be the key for the Washington Redskins to reach the playoffs.
If quarterback Robert Griffin III is the heart and linebacker London Fletcher the soul, then Hall is the team's passion. It's punisher. The guardian.
Re-signing the cornerback this week was necessary for the Redskins to defend their NFC East title. It's fine to enjoy Griffin as perhaps the team's best player since John Riggins three decades ago and see Fletcher finishing a potential Hall of Fame career.
But football is all about passion, and Hall is the team's sergeant at arms. The one who will go after anyone on the field. A referee wasn't immune from Hall's wrath last season, which cost the cornerback $30,000.
The 2009 sideline fracas with Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith was a classic Hall moment. He tried to protect a teammate and ended up taking on the entire opposing bench. That teammate Albert Haynesworth actually trotted over to defend Hall showed the latter's worth. It was probably the only time Haynesworth ever moved quickly in his short failure in Washington.
You say MeAngelo, I say MyKindaGuy.
Football is not about fantasy stats. It's not signing a roster filled with Pro Bowlers. It's having scrappers in a blood sport. And that's what the NFL is, no matter the spin by the league -- a blood sport.
Want to win football games? You better have a few reincarnations of Spartacus on the field. Men who don't look at the game as X's and O's, but KO's. The ones who will knock you out for even thinking of beating them.
The key is they can't play unbridled. Former Redskins safety LaRon Landry was all about big hits to the exclusion of playing smart every down.
Landry is a great talent but ran loose across the field too often. Opposing coordinators spot that on game tape and expose it for touchdowns. Maybe Landry was featured on SportsCenter, but the team didn't win often enough with him and didn't resist his leaving in 2012 as a free agent. The New York Jets recently didn't keep him after a one-year deal, either.
Conversely, Hall calculates his paybacks. After Terrell Owens spat on Hall in 2006, the latter waited for the right chance that later came several times over the years.
You have to play with passion but also with some reserve. Sometimes it seems like Hall yaps too much and doesn't make enough big plays, but then he'll suddenly have an interception.
Sometimes Hall's passion spills over like it did against a reporter last season. An assistant coach needed to pull Hall back, asking what the latest problem was. Sounds like the coach saw similar backroom outbursts too often.
No matter -- football isn't for sissies. It's not for those who can't handle harsh words and settling matters man-to-man.
It's about rising above your opponents by having more heart. That's what the Redskins get in Hall. He's worth every penny.