Greetings Hogs Haven readers, it's Ben from Curly R, I had a chance to attend a special event today with Jason Campbell, I took some photos and video and got a couple of minutes to talk with Jason about the event and I wanted to share. Enjoy!
Last week I was contacted by a public relations firm and invited to an event today at Redskins Stadium sponsored by Powerade, the hydration drink endorsed by Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell. Today I attended that event and it was very much worth my while, this is the account of my trip down to the field at Redskins Stadium and my brief interview with Jason.
Today's event, Powerade's Pro Game Day Experience, invited Virginia, Washington DC and Maryland high school football players to participate in an essay contest, the winning team would be awarded full pro game day treatment, from suiting up in the Redskins locker room to football classroom experience and then practicing on the field. Jason Campbell would serve as honorary coach for the day.
The contest winner was Curtis Robinson of Dunbar High School in Washington DC, Curtis wrote about the difficulties the storied Dunbar football team has had this season, including a losing record.
I arrived at Redskins Stadium and checked in at the front desk, of all the times I had been at this stadium I had never really noticed it had a real front door. There I met Lindsay Raivich, Powerade's coordinator for sponsorship events, it is her job to travel the country and put on these types of events with athletes sponsored by the company. She was outstanding and made me feel right at home.
Along with ABC 7 WJLA's sports anchor Greg Toland and his cameraman, Lindsay took me down from the front desk to the tunnel under the stadium, past the equipment and locker rooms, and walked us out to the field. I really had no idea what to expect and had a hard time coming to grips with actually heading out to the field.
Heading out the giant Redskins inflatable helmet onto the field at Redskins Stadium.
Once we got out there, everybody went in different directions and no one told me where I could and could not go. I separated from the others and just sort of walked around in a daze, looking around at everything from the reverse angle, up and not down. Typically when I go to see a Redskins game I am way the hell up in the top deck looking down, where everything seems so small. I took the obligatory trophy photo of me on the field and emailed it to my wife with the corny subject line, Just me hanging out on the field at FedEx. This blogging thing is cool and all, at the core I am still just a football fan and this event allowed me to pierce the boundary between football fans and the business of football.
Your author standing in the end zone at Redskins Stadium.
The place was pretty well deserted, there were a couple of groundskeepers out attending the field and maybe ten people on the field associated with the event, things would not get started for another half hour or so, I snapped a few photos of my surroundings.
The event sponsor, Powerade, and their Jason Campbell event signage. I still cannot believe the Redskins have not installed high definition, or at least larger video screens. I know the stadium is 11 years old but come on, there are older stadiums with better video in the NFL.
A closeup of the turf in the end zone. Maybe I do not know much about NFL grass turf, the surface did not look so good. Obviously you can see the grass is painted for the lines and logos, look at the turf itself, pop out the photo in higher resolution if you need to, it looks pretty patchy and bare, and like one soaking rain would render it unplayable. I know it is December and getting the grass to keep growing or stay healthy must be tough, I am sure drainage and aeration and fertilization and everything is state of the art and I have no idea what I am talking about. If there are any groundskeepers out there that can educate me on maintaining a grass playing surface into January, please drop a comment or shoot me an email.
The big giant inflatable Redskins helmet the players run through. I was a bit disappointed in the somewhat dilapidated shape of the giant inflatable Redskins helmet, a condition Matt Terl also noticed in one of his first posts as official Redskins blogger. I guess those things are all custom made and you really sweat them before buying a new one.
Sean Taylor's permanent seat at Redskins Stadium.
This was to be a full game day experience for everybody, not just the players. At this point four Redskins cheerleaders came out and began prepping the Dunbar cheerleaders on the player introduction routine.
The four Redskins cheerleaders in charge of prepping the Dunbar cheerleaders.
The Redskins cheerleaders lined up at either end of the Dunbar cheerleaders and walked them through the up V, down V line motions when each player is introduced and comes through the giant inflatable helmet.
Prep session over, the Redskins and Dunbar High cheerleaders get ready for the Dunbar football squad to come through the big giant inflatable Redskins helmet.
A little peek behind the curtain, right where we were standing before the Dunbar player introductions there was a panel removed in the padded wall around the stadium ring, as a recovering sound engineer I can tell you those are audio cables, this is obviously a drop for microphones and audio playback originating on the field. Just one teeny tiny detail in what must be a million to keep Redskins Stadium running smoothly.
Another Jason Campbell Powerade placard, there were dozens around the playing field and in the tunnel, along with free bottles of the stuff for all. Of course being a journalist and needing to retain my independence I did not sample the wares (not).
But what that is actually a picture of is the state of decay in which Redskins Stadium finds itself. No I doubt there are any safety violation, we will not have to worry about South American style upper balcony collapse, have a loot at the rusting rail. And the burgundy padding that rings the stadium wall separating the playing field from the stands. The tops are all sun faded white and the main panels themselves look a lot more pink than burgundy. Again I know replacing this stuff must be expensive and maybe it is all on a schedule, it just seems to me that this stadium is an asset that is being sweated as hard as possible with the minimum cosmetic upkeep being applied, that is a sign an asset is either not in your future plans or about to be unloaded. If there was one the team could do to make the stadium look better on TV, I would say new padded walls in a deep burgundy, as it stands right now even close up and standing right on the playing field, everything looks washed out.
Prince George's county medics, on hand just in case anything goes wrong in the practice.
More Jason Campbell Powerade promo materials. Note the colors on the jersey are accurate but the logo has been stripped off. And the NFL has the league contract with Gatorade, I wonder if this creates contractual problems for Jason. I doubt it, it is not like he helped the league negotiate for Gatorade and it would seem unlikely that the sideline guys would be asked to keep Jason's Powerade separate from the team's Gatorade but I digress.
Another vanity shot, I just had to get the hey mom look it's me and the big giant inflatable Redskins helmet shot.
At this point Jason Campbell and his entourage took the field, coming down through the tunnel to the great delight of the cheerleaders.
Jason, he was taller and lankier than I thought, yes indeed damn he is tall.
Right as they were preparing to introduce the Dunbar players and coaches a fighter jet roared over, guessing it was from Andrews Air Force Base.
At last the Dunbar High School players and coaches take the field to NFL style introductions, it was great.
The sideline box for the team during a game, that is the Dunbar players lined up in front of it. The sideline box was smaller than I thought, given how many people and how much equipment is crammed into it. The field is only 300 feet long, I guess I do not have a sense of scale for all this from seeing so much football from high up or on TV.
Jason projected onto the big screen, there were three or four camera guys there, one from ABC with Greg Toland, one from Fox and one that must have been with the team or the event, constantly streaming shots up to the big board. After the initial warm ups and pep talks from Jason and Dunbar's coaches, the media availabilities began.
Jason talking to ABC channel seven WJLA's Greg Toland, he told me his piece would run at either 5:50 or 6:20 pm tonight (Tuesday). Fat lot of good that does you now huh.
Still talking to Greg, reverse angle. Meanwhile the Dunbar players were whooping it up and were getting ready to start drilling.
The midfield gathering and cheer...
...running sprints on the other side of the field...
...and setting up to run the ladders...
...and some time with Jason, I do not think that football was out of his hands at all the whole time he was working with the players.
The NFL logo at the 35 yard line.
Lindsay Raivich the awesome Powerade show director leading me over to talk with Jason. The things at left are little hurdles the Dunbar players had to high step over or navigate through, depending on the drill.
The helmet logo in the end zone, always a crowd pleaser.
Finally I got my moment with Jason, three questions, about a minute and a half, Jason was great and I made sure he knew I would be there in Cincinnati next week.
Official event schwag, don't leave without it. About time to go then I realized I was staring back into the tunnel where the players run.
Note the Geico curtain to prevent fans from dousing players as they run to the locker room. I ran video on my camera as I left the stadium...
This is me wandering and narrating through the tunnel as far as the elevator where I got turned around.
Upon leaving the elevator I realized I was on the wrong floor and was mildly surprised I was not swarmed with security notified by a proximity warning to the owner's box. Then my camera batteries died, I went through two sets of AA batteries today, note to self, bring more next time, I just upgraded to a 1GB storage card on my Nikon point and shoot and it seems bottomless for both photos and video.
Not pictured: finding the right floor and exiting the stadium then visiting the Redskins store at the stadium, though still not ideal in terms of logo'ed heavy duty winter weather gear, it is easily the best place in the area to get Redskins gear.
A special thanks to Kerri at Catalyst PR for reaching out to me, to Lindsay with Powerade for being a great host and to Jason Campbell for taking time out to talk with me.
All photos and video by me.