ON SEEING, A Journal #493

The SHAPE of the NFL, Cole Holcomb, Middle Linebacker, Washington Commanders

September 13, 2022



Cole Holcomb came to the studio recently. He is 26 years of age, 6’1″ tall and weighs 240 lbs.

He was born in New Smyrna Beach Florida, and played college football at North Carolina. He was drafted by Washington, then known as the Redskins in the 2019 NFL Draft.

I wish to thank Christina Phillips, his agent and manager and Bardia Ghahremani, who were instrumental in facilitating our shoot.

My goal was to create photographs that said “LINEBACKER.” His wife, Jamie, came along and was instrumental in throwing “fumbles” for which Cole dove onto a crash pad a few dozen times in an effort to capture the moment a defender goes after a loose ball (fumble).

This is a small part of the interview with Cole, shortened for brevity…..

“My dad instilled in me to get an education, and that I could use football to go to college, get a degree, and use it towards something fruitful. Football in college was hard with long days. Wake up at six A.M, do a workout, and then go to class. Then, tutoring. Then football meetings. We wouldn’t get home till nine or ten o’clock at night,  And still have a five page paper to do.

“On defense you’ve got to be a little crazy. It’s the craving of contact. 70% of the time the contact that running backs take are from me. We have a mutual respect for each other.  And, I love the guys in my locker room, a brotherhood of men. I’ve earned their respect, they’ve accepted me and they treat me like I am their brother.

“I got a concussion in 2020. Helmet to helmet. Nowadays, we’re doing a better job at leading with the shoulder, trying to keep the head out of it. Sometimes it’s inevitable, we’re all going as hard as we can.  The NFL concussion protocols include a long list of testing, including multiple doctors that help you come back. Years ago they would just stick you in a dark room, and “come back when your head doesn’t hurt.” Now, they’re doing so many things to stimulate your brain. They make sure that you are fully healed, and your brain is back. They wait until it’s safe to put you back on the field.

“The biggest challenge for me as an NFL player is the long length of a season, and how it is on your body. You’re going to have some type of injury that you play through. You go from college where you’re playing 12 games, to the NFL with 17 regular season games plus three pre-season games. If you make the playoffs, you keep adding games.

“In the off season, I start training in February, before the Super Bowl even happens.Conditioning, agility and position work, lifting weights.

“I definitely want to be able to be that person that anybody can rely on. If you need to call me, I’m there. I take pride on that. That’s something I continue to work at every day. I am married and want to be there for my wife and to provide for her.  And I want her to feel safe and feel loved and, I want my future kids to feel that same way one day.”

Great work, Cole. And, thank you, Jamie.