The Bog Goes to Camp
Early Bird Gets The ... Hamburger?
The six young men arrived outside Redskins Park around 5:30 a.m. The gates wouldn't open for another hour, so they staked out their spot on the median on Loudoun County Parkway and started preparing breakfast. And what, you're wondering, is the best breakfast to eat in the middle of a steamy stretch of suburban asphalt just after dawn? Hamburgers, hot dogs and cheddar brats, of course.
"Cereal is for sissies," proclaimed 19-year-old Greg Namrow, to wide approval.
"I feel pretty awful right now," his friend, Alex Kolt, pointed out.
This was the fifth year these Northern Virginians decided to celebrate training camp's arrival with a pre-practice tailgate. This was the first year, however, that the Redskins decided to begin their open-to-the-public preseason workouts at 8:30 in the morning. Which meant the wakeup call was before 5, the departure time was at 5:15, and the $150 worth of groceries began churning in sleepless and heat-addled stomachs around 6. The six tailgaters on that still-darkened road had combined to log 3 hours 10 minutes of sleep Saturday night.
"That's probably not healthy," said Kolt, who prepares an annual PowerPoint presentation outlining their training camp tailgating plans.
But this was the day that football returned to Ashburn, and plenty of people were making sacrifices. For example, the members of the Dead Tree Crew, the fan group whose exploits were explored on HBO's Real Sports last year, were doing beer bongs before 7:30.
"My hobby is tailgating," said Adam Gibson, one of the group's leaders. "The Redskins are the only thing I get to flex my talent on, my talent for tailgating."
"The return of football, to me, means the return of life," said Chris Ferrarese, another DTC leader. "It means I'm born again, baby."
"Oh, it means everything to us," agreed Jason Elliott, who came from Charles Town, W.Va., in a car equipped with a radio-controlled "Hail to the Redskins" soundtrack and burgundy and gold fuzzy dice.
"I don't know why it means it, it's just football," added his friend, 34-year-old Dusty Hogbin. "I don't know how to explain that. C'mon, brother. It's training camp. Look around."
Elliott was similarly enthused about the start of camp.
"I was up at 4 in the morning, waiting to come down; my stomach's hurting right now," he said. "I'm nervous. I'm ready."