Legends Plaza at FedExField lived up to its name in a unique way during Week 3 as Washington alumni spanning six decades gathered at the stadium for a fun tailgate with family and fans ahead of kickoff.
"I'm always excited coming back to D.C. It's always fun to be around those guys who put in the same effort and hard work that we did years after years," said former Washington wide receiver Pierre Garçon. "And I love being out here with the fans because they really support us even after our playing days are over, which means real love.
One hundred and seventy-five Washington Legends returned to their old stomping grounds for this year's alumni homecoming weekend. The three days of celebration, which included fun, educational and community-focused events, put the power of Washington's history on display and underscored yet another important meaning behind the team's "Welcome Home" 2023 season theme.
Former linebacker Brian Orakpo no doubt felt that message on another level during his visit to the DMV as this was the first Washington alumni homecoming weekend he had ever been to.
"Oh, I love it. I've gotten to see a lot of faces I haven't seen in years," Orakpo said. "Even a lot of the guys I didn't play with, who I admired and seen from afar, the true legends, the one who set the ground level for us, it's fun to see a little bit of everybody."
Take a look at the 175 Washington Legends attending today's Alumni Homecoming hanging out with the fanbase at Legends Plaza ahead of the Week 3 matchup with the Buffalo Bills.
For others, like former cornerback Mike Bass, the 2023 alumni homecoming wasn't a first but distinctly came with an energy not felt at others before. This edition conjured up sacred memories of the glory days for the Ring of Fame member.
"This weekend feels like a weekend we had with George Allen, with the closeness of the fellas from all the different eras … We're seeing fellas that we haven't seen in 50 years, and it's absolutely great," he said.
Starting on Friday, alumni in attendance were treated to a diverse set of offerings, including a golf tournament, tour of the National Museum of African American History and Culture and a dinner with the NFL Players' Association. They were also given gift bags full of items from local Black-owned businesses at their hotels.
A little bit of competition here, a little bit of education there and add in several sprinkles of fun, the alumni homecoming slate was created to help foster a sense of connection and enrichment that would have guys excited all weekend long.
"I've heard just about everybody talk about how good they feel about what's going on right now … It's definitely changed," said Super Bowl champion and 1982 MVP Mark Moseley. "It's just a nice atmosphere. There's a good vibe that's out there from everybody."
That good vibe was enthusiastically displayed at the tailgate event in Legends Plaza which also featured a "cook off" with four local BBQ food trucks. Here, under the tents, Legends could be seen hugging, taking pictures with each other, laughing, hanging out with each other's families and more.
Meanwhile, a countless number of fans were clamoring to meet their favorites and take pictures. With fan desires in mind, the Commanders gave out Legends posters at ingress so that alumni would have something easy to sign during meet-and-greets.
Season ticket member Jennifer Brun was so excited to see all the Legends in attendance interacting with the fans, describing the scene as like a "whole big family" coming together. Brun, who has a habit of buying Sean Taylor jerseys, got a memorable add-on to her gameday swag as Jackie Taylor signed her jersey.
The legacies of standout men, great teams and a distinguished franchise were highlighted during this special three-day occasion. Alumni homecoming overall served as a reminder of the importance of creating re-connection opportunities for those who wore the burgundy and gold.
"It's always good to kind of commemorate and share stories and just catchup, see how everybody's doing," Orakpo said. "Once the game is gone, it's a lot of people going their separate ways and then you've got that one event annually that everybody can come back, meet family, meet friends, meet old coaches, it's a great weekend."