’SKINS FANS HAD THEIR OWN SPECIAL GAME PLANS
BY ROB HEDELT
THE FREE LANCE-STAR
Legions of Redskins faithful spent the hours before game time taking care of their personal business—before getting in front of a TV to watch their team take care of business at FedEx Field.
For some, it meant getting in workouts or work hours ahead of the 4:30 p.m. start.
For others, it meant preparing for viewing parties or arriving early enough to snag seats at a favorite sports bar or restaurant.
For fans like Jesse Smith of King George County, it was a time to celebrate the end of
the Redskins’ playoff drought.
“I’m so excited our ’Skins are finally back in the playoffs,” said Smith, who hosts friends in his specially decorated and outfitted Redskins room when the team is playing.
He and wife Courtney spent the hours before the big game preparing burgers, dips, drinks and other goodies for the handful of friends who are regulars in the basement room where everything’s painted burgundy or gold, even the steps.
“One thing we do that’s a little different is getting game jerseys out and ready for everyone who comes to watch the game,” said Smith, a lifelong fan who works for Spotsylvania County. “If they don’t put on the jersey, they don’t get to stay.”
Redskins lovers feel at home in his basement room, where the walls are filled with signed jerseys, helmets, cards and even a cleat Chris Cooley wore in a big win over the Dallas Cowboys.
An especially meaningful jersey is the one with “Wilumaryme” on the back.
“Of course, that’s the most important one in here,” he said with a smile, recalling that he used it to propose to his wife in 2005.
Even daughters Kayla, 3, and Sydney, 16 months, suit up for games, though their jerseys are more pink and small than burgundy and big.
“We’re just glad to be in playoff conversations again,” said Smith.
Thomas Lewis agreed Sunday at midday as he finished up his workout at Gold’s Gym in Fredericksburg and headed home.
“I wanted to get it all done and out of the way to see the game,” said the lifelong fan from Spotsylvania County, who figured the most he could hope for this year was an 8–8 season. “I’m thrilled we made it beyond that.”
Lark English was glad to get her shift at Giant Food’s Harrison Crossing store finished by 4:30.
“I’ll have the game on in the car while I drive home, so I won’t miss any of it,” she said, adding that she planned to watch the contest with neighbors.
Lots of ’Skins fans enjoyed coming through her checkout lane on Sunday—both because she’s sweet and because she was clothed in Redskin garb from head to toe: scarf, hat, jersey, pants, socks and slippers.
“For close to 40 years, I’ve been a fan, and it’s a good day to be one,” she said.
Thomas Abbott was also on an accelerated schedule before the start of the ’Skins game.
He was the first in a group of several buddies to reach Buffalo Wild Wings in Central Park and grab the perfect table.
By 1 p.m., he was in place to make sure he and friends Don Hammer, Danny O’Hara and Clyde Robinson enjoyed seats right in front of a big screen.
For a smaller group of folks—those not watching the game—Sunday’s Redskins game helped out in other ways.
“We figured it would be the perfect time to see a movie, when everyone else is watching the Redskins,” said David Dorsey of Fredericksburg around 1 p.m. “So we’re taking in the 3 o’clock showing of ‘Lincoln.’ We figure there won’t be a problem finding a seat.”
Rob Hedelt: 540/374-5415