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'It's a party atmosphere:' Washington Legends feel positivity, sense of family in return to training camp 

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Many of the Washington alumni in attendance on Friday could not help but notice a shift at OrthoVirginia Training Center at Commanders Park.  

"The buzz is back, and it feels like the unconditional love is back," former Washington tight end Rick "Doc" Walker said.  

Washington Legends are among the most familiar people on the planet with training camp. They have not only experienced their fair share personally, but plenty have come back since retirement to take in the training camp scenes in various years. Nearly every Legend in attendance on Friday in Ashburn recognized a new kind of energy in the crowd, felt happy to be immersed in Washington football again and was encouraged by the future. 

This year former Washington running back Ricky Ervins admitted he stayed at training camp longer than he has in recent memory. 

"I was excited to come this year," Ervins said. "It feels great to be back, man, especially to see this turnout. This is amazing, just to see what a clean slate can do, bringing out folks like this to see what we're going to do this year."

Contributing to the fan energy at training camp was an unprecedented move by the Commanders. For the first time, the team set up a 2,000-seat bleacher area.

"When I was here, we didn't have the tents and bleachers and everything like that," said former center Will Montgomery, who played in Washington for five seasons. "It really feels like a party atmosphere."

Alumni were hosted in elevated VIP, open-air suites, and being able to gather in this area was a huge benefit for the Legends.

"Like I was telling some other players, you feel like you're appreciated. There's a place for you here, and it's just exciting," said former linebacker Ken Harvey.

The space was also set up to welcome the families of players, and the presence of Legends' kids was a standout element on Friday.

"Guys are upbeat, they're bringing their kids out and trying to get them excited again," said two-time Super Bowl champion Raleigh McKenzie. "So, it's really been positive."

For all kinds of parents in attendance on Friday, there was a renewed sense of pride in showing off Commanders football to the next generation of fans.

"Fans are coming back, and the beautiful thing is that many of them have kids who don't know anything," Walker said. "There are so many people in this fan base who have never seen success, so they're hoping for something they've experienced. That could make it explosive."

From multiple generations of fan excitement to alumni coming back and interacting with longtime friends, there was a distinct feeling of family on display around Commanders Park.

"One of the first things [Managing Partner] Josh Harris talked about was 'family,' and how it's of the things he wanted to bring back. Family among the fans, among the alumni," Harvey said. "Seeing all the guys here it's like family, and it's good to be back."

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