By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: August 21, 2009
Filed at 4:13 a.m. ET
ASHBURN, Va. (AP) -- This week, for only the second time in his NFL career, Chris Cooley missed a practice.
Want the details? It's all there on his blog, how his back went into spasms when he bent over to pick up a napkin while eating at a sushi place with wife Christy.
What the two-time Pro Bowl tight end didn't miss this week was another savvy marketing opportunity, capitalizing on a Jessica Simpson rumor that didn't have an inkling of truth.
It started when an online report suggested a romantic link between Washington Redskins teammate Colt Brennan and pop singer Simpson, who recently broke up with Dallas quarterback Tony Romo. Cooley thought such a story was too good to kill off right away, so he persuaded Brennan to tell reporters: ''My life coach, Chris Cooley, said that I should neither confirm nor deny it.''
This being the Internet age, it wasn't long before ''Cooley'' and ''life coach'' were linked everywhere. Knowing a good thing when he sees it, Cooley now is selling ''Chris Cooley Is My Life Coach'' T-shirts on his Web site.
''To be honest with you, I said that because I thought it was hilarious that players have life coaches,'' Cooley said Thursday. ''For example. Tony Dungy is Michael Vick's life coach, and that's been big on the news. I obviously should not be a life coach for any player. I've done great in my life. I have a little bit of an abstract approach to the way I do everything, and a lot of times that doesn't work for other guys. But it's worked for me.''
That's Captain Chaos at his best, saying what he pleases, doing what he wants and telling the world about it with few holds barred. An interview conducted during the dog days of training camp is usually the best time to get a player to open up his personal side, but with Cooley it's redundant: He's already at the forefront of all-access to himself, using the Web to dish details about everything from his home renovations (including a new pool and a ''man room'' with a poker table) to his vacations (although he decided his video of burning a horse corpse was too sensitive to post).
Last year, one posting got him in trouble on two fronts. He mistakenly displayed his private parts in a photo that was meant to feature his pregame study materials. It was the materials, more than the nudity, that concerned coach Jim Zorn.
So where does he draw the privacy line, if at all?
''There's no definite line. I feel pretty open about everything I do,'' Cooley said. ''When you put yourself out there like I have, you can't hide a lot of things. People are going to come out of the woodwork and talk about what is happening in your life, so when you put yourself out there you have to be pretty honest. The line is drawn where I go with the other guys. Being a media source myself, I have a different level of access than everyone else, so you have to be extremely careful with what gets said about anyone else.''
At 27, he is still a kid living the NFL dream, married to a gorgeous ex-cheerleader and able to buy the toys he wants. He gets away with it because his football record is impeccable: zero games missed in a five-year career that includes four of the five top receiving seasons by a tight end in Redskins history.
''There's nobody quite like Chris,'' receiver Antwaan Randle El said. ''Cooley's going to be a jokester, he's going to have fun, and then when it's time to work he's going to work. He's going to show up. If he was doing all that stuff, the videos, doing all the shoots and all that stuff and then wasn't showing up on the field, it would be a different story.''
Cooley has played hurt, practiced hurt and attributes his good attendance record to pride and a high pain tolerance. The only negative on his stat line last season: a mere one touchdown, a byproduct of Cooley learning Zorn's offense and the new coach learning how best to use the talented tight end.
''I feel like I've made the adjustments to become a better player in this offense,'' Cooley said, ''and now it's just fine-tuning my game.''
Besides the regular-season opener Sept. 13, Cooley has two other big debuts next month. Tired of the usual day-after-game coaches' news conferences? Cooley plans to hold his own Monday Q-and-A on Ustream, answering questions sent in by fans via text.
Next month also marks the premiere of ''Ghosts Don't Exist,'' a horror movie Cooley produced with his brother, Tanner. Cooley says he is mainly a fundraiser with a cameo role and ''zero influence'' on the final product, so there's no plans yet to make this another career.
''If it turns out great, we may do it again,'' he said. ''If it's poor, then I'm going to look like a terrible movie producer, which I have no clue how to do anyway. We'll see.''
Cooley's carefree existence was nearly shattered last year when his mother Nancy was diagnosed with breast cancer the week he married Christy. It turns out the son got his indestructible genes from the mom: Cooley said Nancy is now cancer-free after chemotherapy, radiation and surgeries. And, like Cooley, she went through the entire ordeal without missing a game.
''The greatest things I learned -- and I already knew a little bit -- is how tough she really is,'' Cooley said. ''That's a pretty big accomplishment, to go through all that and stay upbeat and never miss anything.''