The Washington Football Team had its last warmup of the preseason on Aug. 27, and in the same way it started training camp, it ended a month of hard work by providing a special treat for the military.
As part of an annual partnership with USAA, Washington hosted its walkthrough for the Baltimore Ravens at Joint Base Andrews as part of a NFL/USAA Best Practice military appreciation event. Military members and their families were allowed to attend the practice to get an up-close look at how the burgundy and gold wrapped up the last preparations for the preseason finale.
"With everything that's been going on, I think it's easy to forget what's on the line for you," said defensive tackle Jonathan Allen. "Growing up in a military household, I know there's a lot of sacrifices that you guys do that's seen and unseen. So this is just another way to see we appreciate you, we love you."
Allen, whose father and uncle served in the United States Army, has dedicated much of his off-field endeavors towards providing support for the military. Any military member who attends events hosted by Washington has a good chance of meeting Allen in person, because he makes an effort to speak with as many service members as possible. And Allen has said that if he weren't pursuing his NFL aspirations, he would be serving his country with his two brothers.
Allen is not the only person on the team who has a deep understanding and appreciation for the military. First-round pick Jamin Davis’s parents served in the Army, and head coach Ron Rivera also grew up in a military household and has made honoring service members one of his top priorities. Rivera's father, Eugenio Rivera, was also a member of the Army, and the family spent time in Germany, Panama, Washington, D.C. and Maryland before settling down in Marina, California.
"It's a big deal for me personally," Rivera said after the practice. "I lived on a base as a kid. I was born on an Army base, for that matter. It is very important for me to give back."
Rivera added that the circumstances in the Middle East and the death of 13 military members in Kabul brings even more significance to the gesture.
"I think it's very important that our military knows we really truly do believe in them, we truly support them and certainly do appreciate their sacrifice to us."
While the team was running through its offensive and defensive lineups, Rivera, team president Jason Wright and co-owner and co-CEO Tanya Snyder spent time talking with service members. Mrs. Snyder said the event was "truly a special opportunity to thank the military community," and like Rivera and Allen, she wanted the service members in attendance to know how much they are appreciated.
"We know how often you come to visit us," Mr. Snyder said, "so it's especially meaningful for us to come here."