Day Four of the inaugural NY/NJ HITMEN skill
position mini-camp was not without incident,
as the HITMEN raised its profile among the men
and women who are sworn to protect and serve
As Wally Richardson, Keith Elias, Andre Coleman
and Eric Stocz, posed for a locker room photo
session for Men’s Journal Magazine following
the morning practice, the special effects caused
quite an alarm—literally.
It seems that an over zealous photographic assistant
set the fog machine to high, prompting smoke
to fill the locker room and corridor of the
Kean University Gymnasium and activating the
fire alarm in the process.
Quick to respond to the imaginary inferno were
members of the Kean University Police Department
and the Union Township Fire Department Station
11, who rushed to the locker room, axe in hand,
to assess the situation.
The fire fighters and men in blue were good
sports about the incident, as were the dozens
of Kean students who suffered a brief interruption
in their physical education classes. The firemen
offered to disconnect the alarm until the photo
session was completed.
Running back Obadiah Cooper attempted to crash
the session, but instead joined the chorus of
players who exhorted the bare-chested Stocz
and Coleman with catcalls and suggestions to
pump up and oil up to enhance their film image.
Observing the action, HITMEN Vice President
and General Manager Drew Pearson reminded the
players to look tough, noting that “HITMEN don’t
Coleman found it difficult to follow Pearson’s
instructions, breaking into a wide grin when
Offensive Coordinator Ron Calcagni joked that
the players should be wearing thongs for the
Apparently the photo shoot required a greater
effort from the players than it appeared, at
least for Stocz, who noted that flexing his
muscles was more taxing than the morning practice.
The line of the day belonged to Elias. When
asked to remove his white turtleneck by the
photographer, who said he was “glowing” in the
preliminary pictures, the fair-skinned Princeton
grad replied, “It won’t make much of a difference,
my body is as white as the shirt—I’m so white
I make milk look dark.”
HITMEN Head Coach Rusty Tillman has continually
espoused the values of versatility throughout
camp, touting the XFL as the “more you can do
league.” It was no surprise, therefore, to see
standout running back Malcolm Thomas among the
candidates for long-snapping duties. The Syracuse
standout stated that he was the back-up long
snapper for the Orangemen, and his smooth form
and accurate snaps did not belie this claim.
Despite the fire alarm distraction, the players
have been well received on campus by the Kean
student body, happily obliging autograph seekers
during lunch and dinner—further evidence that
the XFL is an all-access league.
Mammoth center Dustin Owen thoroughly enjoyed
his interaction with the Kean students. Owen
taped a web-cam and radio interview with attractive
Kean radio personalities Sugar and Spice. Line
coach Edwin Bailey said he never saw Owen move
faster than when he volunteered his services
as the comely radio duo were searching for players
An independent camera crew could have used some
of Owen’s speed and agility during the afternoon
session. The crew ventured too close to the
blocking sled and was nearly run over during
a drill, proving that even all-access has its
limits. So members of the media should remember
to use their powers wisely.
To say the least, the HITMEN are talented …
and not just on the field. Many were surprised
at QB Charles Puleri, a native of Bronx, NY
who most recently was with the Dallas Cowboys,
broke into a convincing Rodney Dangerfield impression.
Sporting a wide, Rodney-like grin while tugging
at the neck of his jersey, Puleri quipped, “I
get no respect, I tell ‘ya, no respect.” Well,
that’s not what Coach Tillman is saying.
“I can’t get over the group of guys we have
here in camp,” explained Tillman. “Most of these
guys could be … rather, SHOULD BE on NFL rosters.
I was thoroughly impressed with our group of
quarterbacks, tight ends, backs and receivers.”
Following dinner, the coach himself admitted
to a few impressive talents of his own. “I used
to be able to do a great Ed Sullivan … Really!
And when my voice get better, I’ll show you
my best Jackie Mason.”
I think we’ll have to take you up on that one
coach. But for now, back to football.