Well over 175 Marines filtered in and out of Truman Crawford Hall of Marine Barracks Washington in Washington, D.C., looking for the fourth annual Pro's vs. GI Joes Madden Tournament and delicious lunch prepared by Mission BBQ.
The tournament, a collaborative effort of the Washington Redskins, Redskins Salute and USO-Metro, was presented by EA Sports Madden NFL 20.
"I think it's great what we do," said Redskins alumnus Ravin Caldwell. "As football players, we call ourselves warriors, but these guys are the true warriors. Anytime you can come out and thank them for their service is remarkable."
Marines who attended the event, which was a continuation of the Redskins Salute to Service month, participated in a Madden 20 tournament on XboxONE video game consoles. About 30 consoles connected to mobile screens lined one end of the hall while music played in the background.
The other end of the hall had free food from Mission BBQ and USO-Metro raffles for memorbillia including pictures, helmets and footballs. Other tournament prizes and rewards included an XboxONE console and 30 copies of Madden 20.
Each marine in attendance also received a Redskins visor and a "Salute" rally towel, which were donated by USO-Metro.
"Everyone seems to be liking it," said Brian Bumgarner, one of the marines in attendance who won a football autographed by quarterback Alex Smith. "Just trying to come in and have a little bit of a good time with all the people they work with."
As marines were playing and eating, Caldwell and fellow Redskins alum Clarence Vaughn made their way around the hall singing autographs, chatting and taking photos. Both Caldwell and Vaughn played for the Redskins during the 1987 and 1992 Super Bowl runs.
"It's just good to talk with these guys and just see how respectful and humble they are," Caldwell said.
Nick Neeley, another marine in attendance, isn't really into video games, but he said it's fun to be around professional players.
"It's super cool to hang out with them," Neeley said. "Their job is such high caliber. Marines are always held to high standards, so being around NFL players who have that same high standard is pretty cool."
Bumgarner said having NFL players spending time at the barracks is "good morale" for all the younger marines.
"That's true especially for those who haven't actually had the chance to get out and do anything on their own," he said.
The Redskins' Salute to Service month will continue throughout the following weeks with plenty of events left to honor members of the military. For Caldwell, who had participated in three other events last week, just spending time around high-character individuals makes it all worth it.
"Just to come out and have some camaraderie, sitting there eating dinner and lunch with these guys, talking about the military and their particular background," Caldwell said. "I just can't thank them enough for their service and the things they do. They're the real warriors."
*The Redskins would like to thank Marine Barracks Washington for allowing USO-Metro to facilitate the event and recognize all of the young Marines during Salute to Service Month. Special thanks to Microsoft for your continued support providing the XBoxOne Game Console to this year's tournament winner*