There are certain things you just remember at an early age, even if you have no idea what they mean at the time. For Keith Gray, one of those moments came when his dad screamed, "Touchdown, Doug Williams!" as he watched Super Bowl XXII.
Gray, who was about 8 years old at the time, looked up from playing with his LEGOs and asked, "Who's Doug Williams?" His dad replied, "You're gonna learn who that is when you get older."
It was the start of Gray's fandom, and if his late father knew that his path would lead him from playing with LEGOs on the floor to being the leader of the "Community" category in the Fan Ambassador Network (FAN), Gray said he would think it was "absolutely crazy."
The Washington fanbase is full of people with similar stories who have their passion passed down to them from members of their family. Gray has immersed himself in that culture, and he wants to make sure all of it is represented.
"I don't want to speak for people," Gray said, "but I want to be the voice for people who want to give me ideas, and then I take these ideas, along with my own, and bring them to the table."
Gray didn't get to see his dad often; he served in the Army so he was away for extended periods of time. Their love for Washington helped strengthen their bond, though, and that grew once Gray started to learn more about Williams and other former players.
As Gray got older, he learned about Williams' career at Grambling, getting drafted in the first round by the Buccaneers and playing in the USFL before signing with Washington. Williams' story captivated Gray, and it gave him more appreciation for how special Williams' Super Bowl win was to his dad.
"My dad helped set that path without telling me that that's what I'm gonna do," Gray said with a smile. "But that's what I ended up being."
Gray has spent his time sharing that passion, starting with his kids. He took his oldest son to a game when he was 4 years old, thanks to some tickets he scored from Terrance Knighton, and seeing how excited his son got when Washington scored a touchdown brought tears to his eyes. "It means the world," he said, that he's able to share those experiences in the same way his father did with him.
Gray's son, now 10, has since changed allegiances -- his wife is an Eagles fan -- but now he's starting to introduce his 5-year-old to the burgundy and gold.
"I got him secured," Gray said, giving a thumbs up. "So, we're good."
Now that he's a FAN leader, Gray has an avenue to contribute to the community in a different way. He's honored to be in the position, but it's not, as he put it, "a Keith Gray" situation. He doesn't want to be the solitary voice in the category.
Gray has an idea of how deep and interwoven the Washington community has become. Over the past few years since he joined social media, he's loved to see the passion from his fellow fans and how they take time out of their day to support the team. There are people he has never met in person but still talks to every day about the direction of the team.
Gray knows that most fans are not able to physically come to the DMV and contribute to Washington's rebrand, but he also believes they should be heard. So, he wants to be like a "middle man" for their voices of what they want to see.
"It's more important to me that if I'm gonna sit and talk to other fans...I want to hear their ideas," Gray said. "I want everyone to feel that they have a voice in this, because everyone is excited about the new change."
Gray's journey has spanned years; now he's stepping into the next phase of his fandom. And just like his dad did with him, he wants to take the rest of the Washington community with him.
"It's just been super hard not to cry," Gray said. "I know that sounds silly as a grown adult, but when you're so passionate about football...and to just be here in this moment, it's a little hard to wrap my mind around it."