Mike Justice lives and works in Dubai. He hasn’t been back to the U.S. in four years. But around 6 in the morning on Monday, there he was, outside the gates at FedEx Field.
“Today’s a big day,” he pointed out, when a fellow tailgater put him on the phone with me. “Obviously RGIII’s back, it’s Monday night, a season opener, a division rivalry. I’m here for the Eagle Hunt.”
Justice — a 39-year old Virginia Beach native who works for a German telecommunications company — had planned for months to time his return visit with the Redskins opener. He flew 14 hours from Dubai to JFK in New York, drove to Rochester to spend a few days with family members, then drove seven hours to Washington on Sunday night. He got to the field before dawn, because if you’re going to come from halfway across the world, you might as well experience it all.
“I’m only in town to see these Redskins play — I want to make the most of it,” he said. “It’s a long day, but I’ve prepared myself for several months for this day….I had to do right. I don’t come home very often.”
Justice still watches every game in Dubai, even though prime time offerings begin in the middle of the night — “It’s nice to be in the Redskins time zone, if you will, for a change,” he noted.
As for his excitement level hours before kickoff, well, let’s call it “elevated.”
“I can’t wait,” he told me. “I’m almost trembling. I just want it to be 6:55.”
(And no, Justice wasn’t the first person to reach the stadium. That honor apparently belonged to Chris and Christy Lopez, part of the Extreme Skins tailgating crew, who arrive at 6 a.m. for every home game.
“We’re here with our Redskins family, here with our team,” Christy told me. “We couldn’t sleep anyway. It’s like a kid on Christmas morning.”)
(Photo by @skinspez)