The Washington Redskins received two very special visitors Saturday as they made final preparations for their preseason matchup against the Cleveland Browns.
Jarrett Hatley, a prior Corporal with the U.S. Marines Corps, and Reece Lodder, a sergeant with the Marines, were invited to the Redskins' headquarters in Loudoun County, Va., for an exclusive VIP tour and to catch practice.
Former USMC Combat Correspondent Sgt. Reece Lodder and Lance Cpl. Jarrett Hatley, the photographer & subject of photo "Let Sleeping Dogs Lie" hanging in several places at Redskins Park, visited the facility on Aug. 16, 2014.
But they also learned just how much their presence was already felt at the facility.
You see, Lodder's iconic, award-winning photo of Hatley and Blue, his improvised explosive detection dog, "Let Sleeping Dogs Lie," is featured prominently in multiple locations around the facility as an inspiration for the true meaning of the word "team."
"When we bring in players, we want them to see that (photo)," Redskins President and general manager Bruce Allen told Hatley and Lodder Saturday. "That's the best teammate shot that we could find about who we are as an organization. So we thank you. That's quite motivating for us."
The photo depicts Hatley – a Redskins fan from North Carolina – and Cpl. Sheradan Reetz catching a nap after spending more than eight treacherous hours clearing Afghani compounds, checking for explosives and other dangerous materials.
Joining Hatley on the dirt-filled ground is Blue, his golden Labrador retriever, who's wrapped up in a ball at the feet of his handler, who is covered in his Redskins blanket.
Lodder – who at the time was also serving as a combat correspondent and photo journalist with the Marines 3rd platoon, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment – said he immediately realized the appeal of the shot on that cold January afternoon in 2012.
"It was one of those surreal moments," Lodder said. "I just saw it and almost couldn't believe it. I'm a photographer, and even when I'm not shooting, I'm looking for moments, and it was almost surreal. … You know they're just laying down sleeping, nothing set up. It's just how it was."
The photo, which Lodder named "Let Sleeping Dogs Lie," appeared in several newspapers around the country and also won the Marines Blog's 2012 "Photo Of The Year" contest.
The appeal of the photo was obvious. Sure it's the perfect representation of everyday Marine life while they protect our country overseas; but it's also as simple as a Redskins fan taking an afternoon nap with his dog.
"It really is something that every American in every walk of life can relate to," said Lodder, who is currently a marketing and public affairs representative with the Marine Corps Recruiting Station in Seattle.
Hatley – who, after four years in the Marines and two deployments to Afghanistan decided to get back to the civilian life – said the Redskins blanket shown in the picture helped keep him grounded during those missions.
"I always carried that blanket around with me because it reminded me of home," he told Redskins.com.
Both Hatley and Lodder learned just how much that photo meant to the Redskins, however, more than two years after it was taken.
On April 2, the Redskins tweeted out a photo of Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson signing his contract at Redskins Park, and framed in the background of the Jackson picture is none other than "Let Sleeping Dogs Lie."
As of August 2014, the Jackson photo had been re-tweeted more than 9,000 times – the second-most popular @Redskins tweet in its history.
Hatley and Lodder said they were taken by surprise when their phones started blowing up about the tweet that day.
"One of my friends texted me that (tweet), and I didn't even notice our picture in the background," said Hatley, who met Jackson at Saturday's practice. "I was like, 'All right, DeSean Jackson signed with the Redskins! That's cool.' And then I looked in the background, and I was like, 'Oh, shoot! That's me!'"
Through their service to their country and their camaraderie, Hatley and Lodder have made a tremendous impact on the Redskins organization.
But their recognition does not stop with Saturday's visit.
Their trip on Saturday – as well as the story behind the "Let Sleeping Dogs Lie" photo – will also be featured on the HD video board during Monday's Redskins-Browns game at FedExField.
"Hail to you," Allen told the Marines.