With the help of USAA, the Washington Redskins held a walk-through exclusively for the military at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Wednesday evening. Those in attendance received an inside look at the team's final preparations before its FedexField debut Thursday against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2 of the preseason.
"Man, it's awesome," head coach Jay Gruden said. "We've done this every year since I've been here, and it's great to get over here and shake some hands and thank these guys for their service."
As servicemembers lined the non-regulation football field, Washington team president Bruce Allen gave his opening remarks thanking the military for its commitment, service and prime example of teamwork.
"So today, for you all, we say Hail to Joint Base Andrews," Allen said. "Thank you for having us."
Maj. Gen. Ricky Rupp also spoke, welcoming the Redskins for their annual walk-through at Joint Base Andrews in Prince George's County. He then singled out Jonathan Allen and called him up to where he was standing. For Allen's leadership, Rupp presented the third-year defensive lineman with a commander's coin. "It means a lot," Allen said of the recognition. "It really means a lot."
Following the brief opening ceremony, Allen and his teammates took the field for a 25-minute walk-through. They first focused on special teams and then progressed through offensive and defensive alignments, some of which the Redskins may showcase Thursday night.
Nearby were military members and their families, cherishing the opportunity to watch their favorite team up close.
"We're really blessed here at Joint Base Andrews to be in Prince George's County and to have the Redskins' home just up the street, and so we get to interact with them throughout the year," Colonel Andy Purath said. "It's great to host [the Redskins] here today, watch them practice, let them sign some autographs and kind of see the mutual respect between professionals that our airmen are and that you see on the field today."
The brief walk-through gave way to a lengthy autograph session. Players and coaches lined the outskirts of the field, signing footballs and jerseys but also posing for photos and simply interacting with the nation's military.
Allen, whose father and brothers are servicemembers, welcomed every request, even after a horn sounded signaling players back to the buses to leave the event. It was the least Allen could do for those he has so much respect for.
"Growing up in a military family, there are a lot of sacrifices that they make that unless you know someone on their side, you would have no idea," Allen said. "So to be able to get out here and just talk to them and chat with them, it really means a lot."