I can't get over the dozens of eager security people the Redskins employ at training camp at Redskins Park in Ashburn making sure media members don't get too close to the action and fans stay behind the fence. The late coach George Allen, whose teams nearly always went to the playoffs, employed one security man: Ed (Double O) Boynton.
Allen brought Boynton with him from the Los Angeles Rams when he came to Washington in 1971, along with his three sons -- including the future senator from Virginia -- a bunch of former Rams players and a number of assistant coaches who went on to run their own NFL teams.
Boynton would prowl the perimeter at the team's Dickinson College training camp in Carlisle, Pa., and later at the original Redskin Park in Herndon, looking for spies, particularly those Allen believed to have been hired by the late Dallas Cowboys president Tex Schramm.
If Boynton, who took his work seriously but never lost his gentle touch, was successful in keeping Cowboy eyes from prying too close to Redskins practices, I assure you his record of keeping the majority of Redskins veterans in training camp dorm rooms after evening meetings was less than perfect.
Not when the lure of Carlisle watering holes such as the Gingerbread Man or Walnut Bottom beckoned and football players simply went by Sonny, Billy, Huff, Riggo and the Hogs. And none of them would ever agree to being locked down in a Lansdowne conference center as they are now, talking to their agents on cell phones.
"It's still exciting, but so different," said Bubba Tyer, the Redskins' director of sports medicine, in his 34th season with the team. "Between offseason workouts, organized team activity, minicamps and rookie camps, these guys come to training camp ready to play. With George, we'd set up July 5, start camp July 12 and play six preseason games. We'd have 105 guys in camp, start cutting the first day. Now we start camp August 1, have 80 players and we don't get down to 60 until after the third preseason game."
This is Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs's 22nd NFL training camp, 14th with the Redskins as a head coach, including the last two on the Reunion Tour. "The big change is the offseason work," he said after practice on Wednesday. "The guys come here ready to play."
Other noticeable differences at Redskins Park include a cynicism about the team's prospects from the media -- nationally and locally -- and criticism of Gibbs's 2004 offense by Gibbs's own running back, Clinton Portis. Among other barbs, Portis, who carried the ball 343 times, analyzed that he wasn't used properly, perhaps with an eye on that Monday night commentator's chair after Joe Theismann replaces Tim Russert.
That left Gregg Williams, assistant head coach-defense, to welcome Portis to the coaching staff and Gibbs to shrug off Portis's comments, saying, "We let 'em talk." Meanwhile, Portis allegedly spends his evenings guarded by security in a Lansdowne hotel room, which, Tyer said, would "not have stopped" Sonny and Billy from their appointed rounds.
Do Something Already
On a hot, steamy night at RFK on Tuesday, an announced crowd of 36,277 watched the struggling but scrappy Nationals lose to the Los Angeles Dodgers, 5-4, falling short to four Dodgers home runs and leaving the tying run, Jose Vidro, on second when Jose Guillen grounded out.
The crowd never stopped roaring in the eighth and ninth innings and few fans left early. A New York friend, who wondered in print if outdated RFK in August would be near-empty and silent, has been proven wrong.
Now the fans who have turned out in such impressive numbers (nearly 34,000 a game, 12th among 30 MLB teams), deserve answers to some important questions.
When is Major League Baseball going to choose an owner for this team? What is MLB waiting for, confirmation hearings on its decision in the U.S. Senate? Do it already.
When is the District government going to complete the purchase of the property around the proposed ballpark site on the Southeast waterfront and get those shovels in the ground? City officials, mischievously untrustworthy mayoral candidates, lawyers and real estate speculators make me nervous.
I'm holding D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and his deputies responsible for getting this done. Washington baseball fans have earned respect and deserve action.
Rafael Palmeiro's response to his being suspended for 10 days for using the anabolic steroid stanozolol brings to mind a would-be monologue by venerable comedian Jackie Mason.
"Steroids? Who knew? I thought I was putting on California Tan 30. I didn't know. I wish I did. I can't remember. I take that blue pill anyway. Get paid for that. Injections? I'm scared of needles. I would never do steroids after I testified. Testified? Yeah, those congressmen who asked for my autograph, they said everything was okay. McGwire said don't look back. Canseco tried to sell me his book. I became confused. I thought I was Giambi. I didn't know. Maybe I did something. Maybe I made a mistake? I do what my manager tells me. Who is my manager? I need a piece of cake."
Top Players Are Hard to Find
Went to the Legg Mason Tennis "Classic" at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center Thursday to find a good crowd watching Andy Roddick and enjoying the matches on the stadium court and the amenities outside. Washington's tennis fans deserved better than to have five of the tournament's top 16 players withdraw from the field in the last several weeks, including 35-year-old Andre Agassi, who claimed his surprising seven-day run to the title in last week's event in Los Angeles left him too drained to compete here. Tourney organizer Donald Dell, who gives Agassi a "pass" because he's played here 15 straight years, said the sport's biggest problem is the organizations that run the game "can't control" the players.
I'll be more direct: Agassi stiffed the fans here and too many selfish players -- men and women -- is the reason tennis has sunk so low on the sports landscape.
* Soccer fans Eddie Batcho and Tom Haughton wrote that most of the blue-shirted Chelsea fans in one end zone at last week's soccer game at FedEx Field were from Chelsea fan clubs across the U.S. and not from England, as I wrote. My bad. Who knew there were so many Chelsea fans living among us?
Have a comment or question? Reach me at Talkback@washpost.com. Accepting get well cards for Feinstein, whose next book will deal with his recent shoulder surgery.