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Meet The FANs: Talking Culture With Andrew York

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In a way, head coach Ron Rivera and Andrew York are kindred spirits.

Rivera has spent the past 18 months molding a new culture within the Washington Football Team. It's one built on hard work, discipline and leaning heavily on its young talent. The method has a singular goal in mind: to remake the team into the perennial playoff contender that it was in the 80s and 90s. That's the kind of movement York can get behind.

"I just want to let you know culture is very, very important to me, too," York told Rivera upon finding out he was the Fan Ambassador Network (FAN) leader of the "culture" category. "That's why it was the only category I applied to."

There's a lot of stadium-rocking, Super Bowl-winning history that comes with being one of the oldest franchises in the league. There's also grit and toughness that attracted many to the burgundy and gold and brought them together. It's why York became a fan, and it's what he wants to see continued in the new era.

"I want to make sure the history and the personality of the team that we've had and we've been rooting for as fans gets carried through," York said.

York was raised on the glory days of Washington football. He was born in the same year as John Riggins' iconic run to seal the team's Super Bowl XVII victory and idolized The Hogs. He was only a kid at the time, but the way the team fought to be competitive in games stuck with him.

"It was a team that didn't quit," he said.

York remembers when Joe Gibbs led teams known for their physicality on a weekly basis. Seeing the offensive line run the ball with ease and the defense shutting units down was a regular occurrence. They never gave up, he said, and more often than not, it ended up working out for them.

"They were just a 'beat you up' kind of team," York said. "It was just a really fun team to root for."

York sees that spirit as a pillar of what the organization's culture has been built upon. It's the tenacious personality that animates the team, holds its fans together and makes them excited to cheer for it. Those are things Rivera has emphasized so far in his tenure, which makes York excited to see what Washington can accomplish.

"I think it's clear that he's instilled a culture of accountability and working hard for your playing time," York said. "Not taking for granted that just because you've been here for a long time, you're gonna get a starting spot."

York said that mentality has trickled down to the players, who came together regardless of external circumstances. Last year's push to win the NFC East despite multiple obstacles, including a 1-5 start and Rivera being diagnosed with cancer shortly before the season began, was the prime example of that.

"The team is coming together now," York said. "And it seems like the players are playing hard for him."

Those are the things York wants to keep at the front of the conversation in his captain's role as Washington continues its rebranding efforts into the 2021 season. The personality and history of the team can't leave when it ushers in a new identity. Fans like York, who have supported the team for decades, are uniquely attached to both. Fortunately for York, he and Rivera and of the same mind again.

"In a lot of ways, with Rivera it already has [been maintained]," York said. "Again, it's a tough team and it's a team that doesn't quit."

But the fans have proven to be as important to the franchise as the players themselves, which makes York happy that they will have a voice going forward.

"I felt like for a long time, the fanbase has been on the sideline," York said. "This is the first time I feel like the fanbase is getting engaged with the team and what the team wants to do. It's really nice having your voice heard as a fan."

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