The Washington Football Team made its return to Richmond, Virginia, to kick off training camp last week, but before the players took the field, a select group of heroes were showing what they can do.
USAA and Washington Salute invited 100 local military members to Washington's first week of training camp. Fifty of those members were part of "USAA's Salute To Service NFL Boot Camp" that featured drills similar to those that college athletes participate in during the National Scouting Combine.
"It's very important," said head coach Ron Rivera during the team's Military Appreciation Day. "These are folks that commit and sacrifice to us."
The event, which made a return after the COVID-19 pandemic prevented Washington from making the annual trip to Richmond for training camp in 2020, represents the evolution of military appreciation events that USAA and Washington have created to foster an understanding and appreciation for the local military community.
The drills, which took place Wednesday morning before practice, included a 40-yard dash, vertical jump and three-cone shuffle. Military members also got to go through a receiving gauntlet and participate in a quarterback arm challenge.
Following the event, the participants were treated to a VIP hospitality area and heard from guest speaker Ken Harvey, who played for Washington from 1994-98 and was selected to four straight Pro Bowls. After giving a brief speech, Harvey fielded questions from the audience on his experience playing against running backs like Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith as well as the impact of sport psychology on the game.
The military members were invited to attend practice after the boot camp and cheered on their favorite players as they walked out to the practice field.
For Rivera, who grew up in a military family himself, it was another opportunity for the team to honor those who dedicate their lives to protecting the country.
"They should know that we most certainly do appreciate them," Rivera said after practice. "It was good that we were able to do something for them."