Before the Redskins rolled to a 27-13 victory over Detroit on Saturday, area fans were getting ready to celebrate.
Even though Dewey Saunders had a prepaid space in the parking lot of FedEx Field, he was one of the very early arrivals. The Redskins were not playing until 4 p.m., but Saunders, his son and several friends arrived at the stadium shortly after 8 a.m.
"I wouldn't sell the pope my ticket," Saunders said as he waited for the 11 a.m. opening of the parking lot.
Billy Saunders, Dewey's son, who lives in Waldorf, said he didn't mind waiting eight hours to see the Redskins. "This is it. When you are born into a Redskins family, this is what it is all about."
The crowd of fans didn't need to see their team to get fired up. When Glenn Stymiest, 43, of Waldorf, spotted someone coming to the game wearing a Dallas Cowboys shirt, he gave the man an angry look and said, "He's got no business being here."
Fanning the Flames
Even Martha Stewart would have been impressed with the entrees being prepared in the parking lot of the stadium Saturday as many Washington Redskins fans took advantage of nice weather and prepared full-course meals on outdoor grills.
"This is what it is all about," J.R. Hollar, of Manassas, said as he opened the top of his grill and vented smoke from the rockfish and deer meat simmering over a gentle flame.
Russell Bodine, 33, of Alexandria, impressed his friends with grilled Polish sausages imported from Toledo.
When it was 40 minutes before kickoff, Deshu Gulati, of Rockville, was taking his time as he dipped beef ribs in barbecue sauce and placed them on a small grill.
Gulati, along with his friends who work at the World Bank, came to the game with fresh vegetables, pecan pie and several types of meat.
He said that great food is essential to Redskins games. "It enhances the expression of the game."
Politicos at the Playoff
It has been more than two decades since an NFL playoff game has been held on Maryland soil, so Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D), Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry (D) and other officials were all smiles Saturday at FedEx Field.
"This is just great," Glendening said after he left the state's sky box and headed toward the Redskins locker room after the game. "My only wish is that we be back here in two weeks and playing Dallas."
The Prince George's County sky box also was packed on game day with more than half the County Council and other local officials. County Council member M.H. Jim Estepp (D-Croom) said what stood out in his mind were the number of people who did more than just come to a football game at FedEx Field.
"I couldn't believe how the parking lots were full of people having tailgate parties and having a good time," Estepp said. "People are doing more than coming to a game. There are spinoffs galore [with the stadium being in the county] that we may not have realized yet."
Other council members attending the game included Peter A. Shapiro (D-Brentwood), Dorothy F. Bailey (D-Temple Hills), Thomas R. Hendershot (D-New Carrollton) and Audrey E. Scott (R-Bowie). In addition to local officials, Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater was also in the sky box.
Estepp said that he has talked with Washington Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder, who also has some ideas about how to capitalize on the number of fans who come to the game long before kickoff. "Mr. Snyder is going to be focusing on doing more of a place where tourists want to come as a destination point."
The last time a playoff game was in Maryland was in 1977 when the Baltimore Colts lost in overtime to the Oakland Raiders, 37-31, at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium.