On May 10, Washington Redskins fans of all ages lined up at FedEx Field in Landover, decked out in a wide array of burgundy and gold football apparel. The 2014 Draft Day Party was a chance to prove team loyalty by wearing Redskins jerseys, handcrafted shoes, denim jackets, hats and other items that displayed unwavering pride. An enthusiastic crowd swelled outside of gate H well before the Draft Party started at 12:00 p.m. Young fans extended their arms to pass footballs to each other on a sunny day in Prince George’s County, while waiting to enter the stadium. On their website, the Redskins reported that 21,000 fans turned out for the 2014 NFL Draft Day celebration, despite the possibility of rain showers, which did appear before the end of the event.
Infants reclined in strollers. Other young fans were carried by adults who seemingly wanted to show off their tiny Redskins attire. Many families turn the day into a generational outing. Grandmothers, grandchildren, sons, daughters, fathers, mothers and various family members attended together. Inside of FedEx Field, big screen televisions kept fans abreast of what was happening at the draft in New York. Occasionally, onlookers paused to listen to statistics and sort out developments that unfolded at Radio City Music Hall. On home turf, fans who strolled around the stadium were poised to offer good vibes for the upcoming season. Party passes to attend the fun time were free, although online registration was required. The majority of the activities took place on the Main Concourse and Club Level. Some Washington Redskins fans opted to take advantage of free health screenings, such as cholesterol, glucose, blood, body fat and grip strength. Other attendees were busy purchasing merchandise, snapping pictures of cheerleaders, or playing games in the arcade area.
On the Main Concourse, a long line formed in the Kid’s Club Autograph area. Redskin Kid Club Members sat patiently as they awaited the opportunity to meet Redskins players face-to-face, while offering memorabilia to sign.
Rhonda Washington of Waldorf stood nearby, proudly explaining that this event marked her grandson’s acceptance of a tradition.
“I’ve been a Redskin fan probably since I was 10. I wouldn’t miss it. I do outreach with them during the Thanksgiving giveaway. This is his initiation event,” she gleefully stated, referring to 1-year-old Isaiah Washington Jr.
Tina Moore wore glitter-filled shoes and an eye-catching hat as she chatted on the Club Level. She remarked that she’s been a Washington Redskins fan for 50 years. Ms. Moore also shared that her mother was a big fan of the team, as she scrolled through her cell phone, proudly sharing pictures of her collection of glamorous Redskins attire. Her sister, Mercedes Beverly, is also a big Redskins fan, too. The fashionable sisters both had stories to recount, although both agreed that Tina was the most fanciful.
On the Club Level, Premium Club season ticket holders ate, socialized and mingled with fellow Redskins fans. A seventy-nine-year-old fan who collects pins worked for RFK Stadium for 9 years. While employed there, the active Women of Washington Redskin member had almost a 3 hour drive. Pins crowded her well-loved t-shirt.
“Some of them are 35 or 40 years old. Here’s one from Jack Kent Cooke Stadium,” she informed, pointing to an area.
Jean Ramey, a long-time Washington Redskins fan from the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, boasted that her grandchildren are all born with a Redskins binky in their mouth. She wears the pins for NFL draft day, opening day of training camp, and the first season game at FedEx Field.
“I have 50 or 60. Maybe more,” she continued eagerly, while finishing her lunch.
In a corner of the room, other fans waited for Redskins players to sign merchandise. Many specific requests were apparent simply by glancing at items that they toted along. Samant Katyal travelled from Richmond, Virginia. Smiling widely, he held his shoes as he stood in line, hoping to get them signed. Other fans held helmets, footballs and even notebooks, while hoping to have an opportunity to walk up to the table where Nick Sundberg and Chris Baker were seated, before the allotted signing time ended.
The Washington Redskins Marching Band performed outside as raindrops fell. Not far away, Gunnery Sergeant Brown, from Sylvester, Ga., explained that he has been serving in the U.S. Marine Corps for 17 years. He remarked that the popular pull-up challenge was designed to teach youth that everything is earned, not given. T-shirts, water bottles and hats were not casually handed out. Gunnery Sergeant Brown added that the activity was a chance to get the Marine Corps name out there.
Fans cheered for RG3 late in the afternoon. He promised future wins during the upcoming season. The quarterback said that he would be ready and also thanked the fans for their loyalty. The Washington Redskins Cheerleaders performed on the Field Stage. On the way out of FedEx Field, Redskin stickers were distributed, close to 5:00 p.m. After the Draft Day Party ended, the parking lot did not immediately clear. Seasoned Redskins tailgaters and extreme Skins fans kept the party going.
A man who describes himself as StephetteZeHogette roamed around the area in a snout, a wig, and feminine attire, while rattling off comments. Nine-year-old Rochelle Brown posed in front of a show stopping car that paid homage to the Redskins. Tailgaters took turns taking pictures in front of it. Kenny Etter from Crofton Md. had another attention getting vehicle. His personalized Washington Redskins bus turned into an after Draft Party spot.
“You’re welcome to come inside,” he offered, pointing to an open back door.
After he agreed to take a photo, a burgundy pickup truck stood out. ‘We Support Our Troops’ was sprawled across the American flag. A Redskins flag flew below it. Sandy Eshleman, dressed in pants with a military fatigue print, explained that her son-in-law completed two tours of duty.
Eshleman also said, “This is my family’s twelfth year coming down from Pennsylvania. Our military flag is more important than anything. It always goes on top.”