RICHMOND, Va. -- Before the Redskins took the field for Day 8 of training camp Tuesday afternoon, 50 local military members crowded the practice fields for the "USAA's Salute to Service NFL Boot Camp."
"It is an honor to host service members at 'USAA's Salute to Service NFL Boot Camp' with the Washington Redskins," said Ronney Wright, USAA military affairs representative for the greater Washington, D.C. area. "Not only do the service members have a chance to watch practice and meet Redskins players, but they enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete on the same field and participate in some of the same drills as these NFL players. Bringing service members closer to a game they love is just one way USAA and the Redskins say thank you for their service and sacrifice."
Each servicemember participated in football drills similar to what prospective players go through at the annual NFL Combine. Split teams competed for points in the 40-yard dash, receiving gauntlet, quarterback arm challenge, three-cone shuffle and vertical jump.
"It's surreal really," said Chief Machinery Technician Patrick Carr of the U.S. Coast Guard. "Less than one percent serve and less than two percent make it to the NFL, so we can relate to [the players] in a way."
Following the boot camp, participants enjoyed a VIP hospitality area to watch the Redskins practice and then were treated to a special meet and greet with the players afterwards. The military members also had the opportunity to take photos and get autographs.
Despite their eagerness to meet the players, Carr said a special aspect of this event was the comradery between the different military branches in attendance.
"For all of us, I think this is a time where it's not just getting off work or getting off the base. It's spending time together, too" Carr said. "I just met four of five guys that I have never met before in my life from the Air Force to the Navy. That's another thing that it's all about: just bringing it all together -- under the Redskins banner."