Jennifer Dorsey woke up at dawn Saturday and packed her three boys up, joining family and friends for a drive from Poquoson, Va., to Richmond for their first Redskins training camp. Later in the day, she said it would be her and her family’s last.
Over 25,000 people turned out for Fan Appreciation Day Saturday at the Washington Redskins training camp in Richmond, creating an atmosphere that certainly wasn’t for the faint of heart. Thousands of autograph seekers packed the sidelines just to get a peek at Redskins players. Temperatures hovered above 90 degrees, caking mud trails that had formed around the practice field from rain showers earlier this week. Fans formed long lines to outdoor restrooms. One site official, who said she has worked 13 consecutive Redskins training camps and was checking bags Saturday in Richmond, called it “worse than a NASCAR race.”
“I don’t think the facility is large enough for 25,000 people,” she added, shortly after a woman in a Darrell Green jersey approached her and said, “this fan’s not feeling appreciated.”
Dorsey said she and her boys got a look at the field for about five minutes, then turned around for the exits, just 20 minutes into practice. There were already thousands of people leaving, passing the thousands of people still in line trying to get in.
“As you’re trying to come out, there’s no organization,” Dorsey said. “You can tell this is a free event … I mean we’re Redskins die-hards. We’ll stay Redskins fans.”
About 100 fans had to be strolled off the field due to the heat (10 were transported to a hospital, a team official said), but there were no major incidents and no interference with play on the field.
Virginia Beach native Tania Demko, 49, could feel the heat and large crowds getting to certain fans. But Saturday was more about blocking out the background noise and wheeling her 82-year-old mother Mary, a lifelong Redskins fan, around. Navigating the crowds wasn’t easy for Demko – but both she and her mother were happy. They got to see Robert Griffin III and Santana Moss, she said, and people were generous to her mother.
“We were just patient with the whole thing. It’s never too crowded. I don’t care how big the crowds are. I’m happy. I enjoyed it, I really did,” said Demko, who then nodded when her mother said they would be back.
Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag.
● Practice resumes Monday at 10 a.m. and 3:20 p.m. If you’re headed to Richmond, check our our guide to training camp for tips on getting autographs, where to park and things to do after the session is over.
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