The Washington Redskins held their annual Salute to Service event on May 29, inviting military service members to the team’s facility during their organized team activities sessions.
For some of the servicemen and women at Redskins Park, it was a rare opportunity to watch their favorite team practice at an event only open to the members of the media. For others, it was a chance to get a glimpse at some of the players they watch on Sundays.
U.S. Army Sgt. Anthony Wynne said he had been a Redskins fan ever since his grandmother introduced him to the team in 1991, the last season the Redskins won the Super Bowl.
“My grandma gave me a 3X shirt, obviously I wasn’t a 3X then,” Wynne said
The barriers around the practice field were surrounded by men and women in fatigues, holding burgundy and gold flags, helmets and footballs as they patiently waited for autographs. It was a mixed crowd in terms of fandom at the event. Some of the service members were diehard Redskins fans; others were there because they like college football with Ohio State and Alabama paraphernalia mixed-in with Redskins gear in the crowd.
Most OTAs are not open to fans, but last Wednesday was a special exemption for military service members. For the team, the practice serves as just a light offseason exercise, but it did not stop them from putting on a bit of a show.
Rookie cornerback Jimmy Moreland had three interceptions at the practice, serving as the highlights of a practice made up of no hits or touchdowns.
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Christopher Montgomery stood and waited with a Redskins miniature helmet and football. Montgomery, an Oakland Raiders fan, waited patiently to collect a signature for his dad and brother, both of whom are Redskins fans.
“Yeah, it was awesome. I’m just curious to see how the team is going to do this year,” Montgomery said.
Most of the military personnel who attended the affair are local. However, one person came from 4,000 miles away. Lloyd Davies, a member of the British Corps of Royal Engineers currently stationed in the United States as part of an exchange program, got his first glimpse of the American sport.
For most of the vets, the most prominent names were the main draw such as newly signed pro-bowl safety Landon Collins and rookie first-round quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
For wide receiver Trey Quinn, a smile lit up on his face as he quickly interjected a short response to a question about the military.
“I freaking love vets man,” Quinn said. “I grew up in a military-background family,”
Quinn, like many of the players on the Redskins, had several military veterans in his family. In his case, it was his grandfather and great-grandfather who served.
Newly signed linebacker Jon Bostic, like Quinn, has several military vets in his family including three uncles and a cousin, who is currently serving, who helped instill a strong sense of discipline in his family.
“A lot of stuff, you know, goes unseen, because it’s not publicized all the time,” Bostic said of military service members.