Saturday, July 26th, 2003 marked the proudest day of this website’s short history. Melanie Pierce, the marketing director for Ken Harvey’s marketing company JAKA and for the Redskin Alumni, invited us to help with the Football Fan Classic that was being put on at Splashdown Park in Manassas, Virginia. So BossHog, NewsHog, Scooter, and the Wingman all headed to the event not really knowing what to expect. It would be the first time that the core group of staff had ever met. We travelled a combined total of over 3000 miles to make it happen.
We’d have travelled 30,000 miles had we known what was in store.
We arrived early at Splashdown to receive our instructions. Would we be carrying water? Setting up tents? Picking up garbage? We would have done anything to help out, we were just honored to be there. But Melanie’s word has always been golden and she had promised beforehand that she had a special job in mind. We were taken to our table where Ken was standing with a group of people. Interviewing Ken on the phone was not the same as meeting him, so there were some nerves. They were quickly dispelled by his grace and accomodating nature. He thanked us for coming and for all of our help, and we were all quickly made at ease. They informed us that our ‘special job’ would be interviewing many of the Redskin players that were there and also helping the Redskins greats with their drills. We were thrilled.
We set up the table for the day’s events and we started scouting out this quaint venue that Ken and Melanie had created. It was a hot, sunny, beautiful day. You couldn’t ask for a better setting. There were balloon hats for the kids, face painting, midway alley, the Redskin Cheerleaders table, the ‘Chalk talk’ tent and many more things to see. As we walked around the field, we gathered our bearings and set about putting in a good day’s work.
The day was filled with highlights. Wingman and the NewsHog went off to help with the drills, while Scooter and I went over some questions that we could ask the players as they were brought over to the table. We wanted to be semi-prepared and not fumble along, but we also wanted to keep the interviews as casual and converstional as possible. After all, the players were also being interviewed on the stage by Andy Hayes of the Coaches Corner and Steve Buckhanz the Wizards play-by-play announcer. We didn’t want to be repetitive, but we also wanted to make sure that we covered some of the same bases like what the respective former players were up to these days. So we tried to lead conversations rather than just asking point blank questions.
We were very pleased with the results. We got to speak to some great people and great Redskins like Head Hog George Starke, Charles Mann, Daryl Grant, Pat Fischer, Mark Moseley, Ricky Ervins and Reggie Evans. Our approach, coupled with the player’s co-operation, gave us an afternoon that we will always remember as we just sat around talking about football. We would like to thank all of the aforementioned players for giving some fans the thrill of a lifetime. We will be posting all of the interviews in the upcoming weeks, but there is just too much to post in one article. Wingman and NewsHog will also be putting together an article on their experience.
We met some other great people that we’d like to acknowledge too, like Terri Lamb, president of the Redskins Cheerleaders Alumni and Howard Churchill (Howie) of the Hogettes. In fact, we hope to have some really exciting news coming up soon with both Howie and Terri, stay tuned.
The people in attendance were treated to a cozy afternoon with some Redskin stars. Ken and Melanie emceed the event and paraded out legends like Charles Mann, Art Monk and Darrell Green to speak to the crowd. It was great just to see these guys, let alone listen to what they have to say. Many of these great men are still such integral parts of the Washington community, that their words and actions continue to be truly inspirational. The players know that they were part of a very special Redskin family, and this day was all about spending time with their extended family — the fans.
At one point in the day, we grabbed a 6 year old boy named Austin Thomas and asked him if we could interview him about the day he was having:
TheHogs: How old are you Austin?
Austin: I’m 6.
TheHogs: Who is your favorite football player?
Austin: (without any hesitation) Ken Harvey and Darrell Green.
Suddenly without any prompting, Austin adds:
The Cowboys suck. The first time I saw them.. I didn’t really know that they sucked. But the second time that I saw them, I knew that the Cowboys really sucked. My mom likes the Cowboys.
TheHogs: (in tears by the way) How long have you been a Redskin fan Austin?
Austin: Oooohhh… a loooong time. First I played baseball… then I played football… and next year I get to play football for real! My sister is one and a half. I’m teaching her to like the Redskins too.
Just another one of the many memorable moments that the day provided.
The day was also full of exciting activities for the fans. Mark Moseley did some kicking drills. Rick ‘Doc’ Walker and George Starke hit a chalk board and drew up the counter trey and a few other Redskin plays. Darrell Green even graced some kids with his cornerback knowledge in some DB drills.
It was very casual and all the players were very approachable. Ken told us beforehand in an interview that he wanted the event to feel like the players ‘were just hanging around in the backyard’, and that is a perfect description of what we experienced. What more can a Redskin fan ask for?
As the afternoon drew to a close, we knew that we had experienced a day that would last a lifetime. If you live in the Washington area and have never been out to one of these events… shame on you. You’re cheating yourself out of a Redskin fan’s dream. We take our hats off to Ken and Melanie for putting together such a phenomenal day, we only hope that we are asked to do it again next year.
For information on this or other events, e-mail RedskinsAlumni@aol.com or post a question to our message board.
For photos of the event click here.
Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Mark Solway