The Washington Redskins on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016, held a walkthrough practice for military members at Joint Base Andrews in Prince George's County, Md, presented by USAA
Washington Redskins President Bruce Allen remembered fondly how his father, legendary head coach George Allen, would have his teams – in both Los Angeles and Washington – practice in front of military service members throughout the season.
The Washington Redskins held a special walkthrough practice at Andrews Air Force Base in Prince George's County, Md. on Aug. 25, 2016 as part of the team's continued Redskins Salute efforts.
"It is part of the fabric of our country," Allen told ESPN 980 on Thursday. "We can all learn so much from their leadership and their direction."
Allen has made it a mission to continue his father's tradition, the latest example being Thursday, when the Redskins visited Joint Base Andrews for a walkthrough in front of fans, elementary students and service men and women.
Those attending the practice session were invited by USAA, the Official Military Appreciation Sponsor of the Washington Redskins, proud to provide the service members at Joint Base Andrews the opportunity to get an up-close look at the team's final preparations before the Redskins host the Bills on Friday.
"It's for all the fans," Allen said. "The military – there's people out here obviously that are Redskins fans – but there's fans from all the different teams…being able to see football players five feet away from you and for the young people to be able to get autographs, it's a great experience for them. But once again, it's fantastic for us to see because we get so many lessons from the military – in business and in sports, leadership, about camaraderie. No one teaches camaraderie better than the military. It's been a great experience for us."
The players felt the love entering the non-regulation turf field, shaking hands with those wearing their camouflage uniforms before huddling up and getting to work.
Instead of a shortened practice, head coach Jay Gruden made sure his team maximized its time in front of those watching, which included members from both Andrews Air Force Base and Naval Air Facility Washington.
"It's awesome to have [the Redskins] back," Major General Darryl Burke said. "This is the third year I've been here and I know each year all of our airmen look forward to this event. As you can see, we have another great turnout this year."
"Among the many military bases, this one is extra special because of the history here and the proximity to the nation's capital and just the number of soldiers stationed here," quarterback Kirk Cousins said. "It's a special deal and it's fun. It gives us that much extra motivation when we go out on the field tomorrow and the games ahead; just realize how many people are behind you and people that are really making a difference for us and for our country."
For defensive end Ricky Jean Francois, the day was special considering his sister returned from serving overseas last year. When players broke practice and headed to the sidelines to sign their names to hats, jerseys and footballs, Jean Francois made sure to engage in some meaningful conversation, too.
"It's good to just have her back home," Jean Francois said of his sister. "She may have to deploy again, but it's good to have her back home and it's good to just see what she does for our country and I'm proud of her, I love her to death. I'm just going to get out here and shake hands and say, 'Hey, how you doing?' Just give them thanks. Like real thanks…because without you guys I wouldn't be able to sleep peaceful at night or be able to play in an NFL football game in peace.
"It's great to come out here to show appreciation to the people that take care of you each and every day."