1. There are lasting images that get etched in young men's minds during the more impressionable stages of life. Julie Warner's nude scene in Doc Hollywood, Diane Lane's scenes in Unfaithful, Nicole Eggert in Blown Away (back in her Baywatch days!)...you get the picture. Still, no matter how cluttered our minds get with all of these important cinematic moments, there is something special about that first day you see your favorite players in shoulder pads and helmets each summer. We live for Sundays in the fall and winter, but there is something about seeing the burgundy and gold on the practice field in the summer heat that gets our hearts aflutter.
2. As a young boy, I recall knowing exactly when each network's sports segment would air during the 5 o'clock, 6 o'clock and late night news programs. I lived in the middle of God's country in southern Maryland, so 24-hour cable sports networks had not yet infiltrated my soul. My grandfather and I had figured out the order we would whip around ABC, CBS and NBC to catch the reports out of training camp. It was one of the only acceptable deviations from his very regular, dedicated and regimented Soul Train viewing. You read that right...growing up, my grandfather and I spent some real quality time with none other than Don Cornelius. My guess is that explains some things to many of you.
3. Practice jerseys--you know, the bright yellow jerseys that you see the guys wearing during camp--came to symbolize the preamble to yet another glorious season of football. Watching those pre-HD, grainy clips of The Hogs, The Posse and all the other great players of our childhood on the evening news as George Michael or Glenn Brenner provided voice-over analysis was pretty much the highlight of many of those dog days in August. (Chick Hernandez learned under Glenn at CBS, I believe, and has credited him with much of his success...though I am not sure Glenn told him to rock that earring.)
4. Today, we have more outlets providing timely and insightful information than we can actually consume. There is no shortage of writers, anchormen/anchorwomen and experts in the current sports landscape. We know you have choices when it comes to where you get your Redskins news and information, and we at Hogs Haven consider ourselves fortunate to be in your rotation. In the coming days, we'll outline our preseason coverage schedule and make sure you know what we will be writing about on a daily basis, as well as when you can read it. I don't call myself an expert on anything (except maybe pop culture references), but I know that our team at Hogs Haven is among the best you can find online or anywhere else for that matter. We know our team as well or better than anyone out there, and we really do try to give it to you from as many angles as possible.
5. In the coming weeks, really try to enjoy the process that this team is undertaking in 2013. As I noted in one of my Two Cents pieces last week, the Washington Redskins are not starting from scratch. Gone are the days when the main story of summer centered around high-priced free agents or a brand new head coach. There is no new offensive or defensive scheme for our skill players to have to learn. There is not currently a player on the roster that reminds us of an Albert Haynesworth, drawing attention and life away from the soul of this team. It has been said already and it bears saying over again--I find it so damn refreshing that we arrive at training camp with no other legitimate goal besides GETTING BETTER. (And yes, it is a ridiculous thing when that is NOT the only legitimate goal in camp...)
6. The 2013 season is almost underway. No July practice session can compete with a win-or-you're-out game against the Dallas Cowboys in late December. That doesn't mean there is nothing singular and special to be enjoyed. In addition to the first glimpses of rookies that may or may not contribute meaningfully in the upcoming campaign, now is the time for our second- and third-year guys to get those precious reps that they couldn't get during the regular season last year. Who knows when an impromptu hand gesture between Robert Griffin III and Pierre Garcon on a steamy afternoon in August becomes the basis for a season-breaking play in November? It is on these kinds of days when something clicks for a second-year guy like Alfred Morris and all of a sudden, his footwork in pass protection tightens up to the point when Kyle Shanahan feels comfortable calling plays from a whole new sheet. These are the days when we hope and pray that our defensive chemistry--especially in the secondary--begins to shape up and give our team a chance to hang in games against some of the top offenses we will face. To be certain, it is a different kind of excitement than that which we feel when we watch Jesse Spano in Showgirls, but nevertheless, this time of year brings with it a unique blend of titillation and intoxication. Drink it in and remember: great runs to the Super Bowl begin now--not when we can't afford to lose another game after the bye week.