The Washington Post

Dan Snyder offers to buy the Redskins van

(Sarah Kogod/The Washington Post)

The story about Charles Jones and his Redskins van is slated to run in Sunday’s print edition of the Post (Here’s the version we posted on the Bog yesterday). We wanted a photo of the van to run with it, so on Friday morning I headed to Arlington to meet with Jones and snap some pics of the burgundy and gold ride.

The Redskins had told me they would be calling Jones about his story. But I didn’t know I would be with him when they did, and they certainly didn’t know I would be there. But the stars aligned, and so I was there when Jones received the news that Dan Snyder was personally offering to buy his van.

“I don’t know if that was a gag, or whatever, but he said that Dan Snyder would like to buy the van for $20,000,” Jones said when he hung up the phone. “That’s just what I need.”

Jones began laughing in disbelief, and it was a moment or two before the reality of it hit him.

“I have my faith, and I’ve tried to be patient,” Jones said. “This means so much. I can pay off my debts, I can help my family.”

Saying goodbye to the van was difficult, Jones said, but looking at it reminds him of the cold nights he spent homeless. Letting the van go is Jones’s way of leaving his rough past behind him.

And then, Jones could no longer hold back the tears that had been brimming since he had hung up the phone a few minutes earlier.

“And the most important thing, I can finally afford to go visit my daughter and grandkids,” he said, wiping his eyes. “That means more to me than anything.”

I confirmed with the team that Snyder was personally purchasing the van. I was taking photos when Jones got the call, so I managed to get his reaction on video.

In a surprise phone call, Charles Jones learned the Redskins are buying his vibrantly themed van. A 55-year-old veteran, the van used to serve as Jones's home, but now serves as a symbol for how far he's come. (Sarah Kogod/The Washington Post)



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Dan Steinberg · October 25, 2013