Fans waited outside in the scorching, hot sun an hour before the gates opened at the Bon Secours Training Center on Saturday.
When they got in the facility, they weren't disappointed.
The Redskins hosted their annual Fan Appreciation Day on their eighth day of training camp in Richmond, Va., giving thousands of fans, who drove hours to spend the day with their favorite team -- memorabilia, games and a chance to see their 2018 team in action.
“It’s just a happy feeling [being at training camp],” Redskins fan Lisa Sheff said. “Just to see so many fans and being a fan, it’s overwhelming. I’m just enjoying myself. I came out here, I was in the [VIP] tent, and I was like ‘I got to come out [to the field].’ This is my first time. It’s just a joy to be here.”
Fan Appreciation Day started with the marching band getting the fans fired up by performing classic songs and wrapping up with the fight song. That was followed up by a dance number from the First Ladies of Football with their junior team campers.
After another performance from the cheerleaders, they all greeted fans, signed posters, and took pictures. The on-field fan entertainment concluded with touchdown dance contests, over-under football game relay races for prizes and T-shirt tosses.
When practice started, the fans got to witness the intensity and the competitiveness of what the Redskins have been showing since Day 1.
“I think it’ll be fun for the fans to get a look at the team for the first time and it’ll be fun for the players to get out there,” head coach Jay Gruden said. “It’’ll be high energy I’m sure, and we have a couple of live sessions today, it’ll be kind of fun, some goal line short yardage, which should be fun. I’m sure the players will enjoy that, you know. The best three out of five short yardage, the best three out of five goal lines, so then we’ll get them juiced up in the last live sessions there at the end too so, it’ll be a good practice.
“We’ll get some tackling in here and see what happens. But, it’s awesome [to have] the fans come out here, we’re very appreciative of our stay here in Richmond. They have been great to us. Bon Secours has been excellent to us, the Omni has been great so, it’s a first-class organization here and we’re happy to be part of it."
Check out these images of the fans at training camp practice Saturday, August 4, 2018, at Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Va.
For some fans, Saturday was a special occasion with family members. Neil Hoyt decided on Friday that the best way to spend his birthday was watching his favorite team at training camp with his two children.
After waiting an hour to get inside, Hoyt and his family managed to score a spot right next to the field, thanks to his neighbors, and witness all of the events taking place up close. The Richmond native never had the chance to come to training camp since the team held it in their same city beginning in 2013, and his first time attending exceeded his expectations.
“It’s been wonderful,” Hoyt said. “Everybody’s been great to us. We’re really enjoying the time. The fans have been great, the cheerleaders, all the staff. So we’re having a great time.”
As the Redskins walked onto the practice field in the afternoon, there was an added motivation to give the fans what they came to see. With added intensity, the Redskins made highlight reel plays during the two-hour workout and involved the fans in the process. Paul Richardson Jr. even threw a football in the crowd after he scored touchdown on a post route.
Every player signed autographs for the fans in attendance afterwards, with handful of players greeting more people even after the horn blew, signaling they were done.
“It’s huge, just having the fans come out here and support us through the ups and downs,” running back Chris Thompson said. “The true fans that are still behind us, we just appreciate them coming out. It’s a little bit of motivation for us. We finished like a week and a half of camp now and just kind of hitting those dog days now where we’re tired and just having them yelling our names and just keeping us pumped up has given us a little bit of added motivation. I wish it could be like this every single day and it would be great.”