The Washington Redskins have one of the tightest and most passionate fan bases in all of professional sports.
That fan base is mourning the loss of one of its own, after the team announced on Tuesday the passing of legendary Redskins super fan Zema Williams, commonly known as "Chief Zee."
Williams was a fixture in the Washington, D.C., area, having attended Redskins home games since the 1970s. When Washington was at home, either at RFK Stadium, or at FedExField, you could bank on the fact that Williams was going to be there rooting on his favorite football team.
This is how much Williams was loved and respected by Redskins fans: Upon getting the news of his passing, members of ExtremeSkins organized a vigil at Redskins Park to honor the life of Williams.
Ted Abela, commonly known to Redskins fans as "Tailgate Ted," was one of the members in attendance on Tuesday evening.
Abela took the news of Williams' passing very hard, because he had a special bond with him that began back when the Redskins played at RFK Stadium. That was the first time Abela had met Williams, and it had a profound effect on him.
"It went from seeing Chief on the Jumbotron, to talking to Chief, calling up his cell phone [and] seeing how he's doing [and] seeing how he's feeling," Abela said. "It went from knowing Chief as a fan, to knowing Chief as family. Chief was like a father figure to me, a grandfather to me at that point. If we needed something, Chief was there."
Christie Lopez was another ExtremeSkins member that attended the vigil. Lopez says that while Williams will be missed and never forgotten, Redskins fans will come together as one, because that's what Williams would've wanted.
"Redskins Nation always comes together in the best and worst of times," Lopez said. "I remember being in the same spot when Sean Taylor passed away, and that's why we came back out here today for the Chief, because this is the tree for Sean Taylor, [and] this is where we did everything for him, and there's no better way to honor the Chief than where we honored Sean."