Thousands descend upon Redskins training camp for Fan Appreciation Day


Cassandra Jones of Richmond poses for a selfie with Coach Jay Gruden during Saturday’s fan appreciation day. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

RICHMOND — The intrigue surrounding the mysterious, bespectacled figure only heightened as fans, rabid for ink of any kind to fill up their posters, jerseys and hats Saturday, gathered in a circle just off of the damp practice field during fan appreciation day at training camp in Richmond.

“Who is that?” one young fan whispered, standing on his tippy toes to catch a glimpse of the man wearing a brown suit jacket and yellow pants, set off by a Redskins bowtie,  a curly, black mustache and a pipe hanging out of his mouth.

“I think it’s Santana Moss,” another fan responded, leading both to run back to their respective families for a pen.

Who is this mysterious man? (Brandon Parker/The Washington Post) Who is this mysterious man? (Brandon Parker/The Washington Post)

Off to the side, a team official shook his head as the self-proclaimed “educated fan” known as “Professor emeritus Burgundy N. Gold,” signed autographs, taking advantage of the day where nearly 21,000 fans descended upon Bon Secours Training Center for a glimpse at this year’s Redskins.

“He’s really just some guy dressed up, signing his name,” the official said. “But hey, people want their autographs and moment. Especially today.”

Related: D.C. Sports Bog’s Dec. 2013 profile of Dr. Burgundy N. Gold

The storm clouds held off their rain just long enough for fans to have their moment Saturday. Following a two-and-a-half hour practice, Redskins players and coaches broke off to sign autographs and take pictures on the day set aside for their biggest supporters — as well as a few of their biggest haters.

Count Johnny and Tracey Spragg of Chesterfield among both bunches. The married couple that initially bonded nearly 15 years ago over their love of the Los Angeles Lakers discovered a playful wedge between them when football season rolled around, uncovering Tracey’s love for the Redskins and Johnny’s affinity for the Dallas Cowboys.

“It doesn’t get ugly; it’s just a little competitive,” the 44-year-old Johnny said with a smile Saturday while donning a Miles Austin Cowboys uniform alongside his wife decked out in her Robert Griffin III  jersey. “I got booed here some, but it’s all good.”

Any such boos were largely drowned out by the cheers from fans as the team went through drills. The largest roar came toward the end, when Griffin spun away from a defender and hustled into the end zone for a touchdown down the right side of the field.

Such moments are what drew Troy Skidmore, 46, and his 9-year-old daughter Katelyn out of their Fredericksburg home and onto the moist training camp grounds. Skidmore has been a Redskins fan since he can remember, proudly supporting the Super Bowl teams of the ’80s while affirming his loyalty through recent tough times with a shirt that reads “Win, Lose or Tie, I’m a Redskins Fan Till I Die.”

“We got the full experience, seeing practice and getting Alfred Morris and Pierre Garcon’s autographs,” Skidmore said as his daughter flashed a Morris figurine and a toothy smile his way in hopes of adding to her tiny collection of team memorabilia. “It’s what we expected, with a lot of people and just to see the team. We’ll probably come back next week — and we know to bring some chairs next time.”

Have a Redskins question? Send an e-mail to mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question,” and it might be answered on Tuesday in The Mailbag.

What’s ahead:

Washington is off Sunday, and the Patriots come to Richmond on Monday. Here’s our camp guide, if you’re planning to attend.

Also from The Post:

D.C. Sports Bog: Arriving for Fan Appreciation Day at 2 a.m.

Mike Jones’s observations from Day 10Photo gallery

After squandering a chance, LeRibeus fights for a job

Trent Williams returns, DeSean Jackson sits out

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Brandon Parker is a sports reporter for The Washington Post.
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