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The 5 O'Clock Club: It’s time for Harvest Feast!

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It’s 5 o’clock somewhere…

The 5 o’clock club aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

With Thanksgiving upon us this week, the Redskins will be holding the 15th annual Harvest Feast, which is a very real charitable event in which the team players and alumni join more than 150 volunteers to distribute Thanksgiving food baskets, whole turkeys and beverages to 2,500 Prince George’s County residents in need on Monday at Fed Ex Field.

While the entire Harvest Feast event has been the subject of some derision since Bruce Allen famously used it as an example of “winning off the field” some years ago, it is another example of teams -- and most especially players — giving back to the community.

Since 2003, the Redskins have gifted more than 1,242,335 pounds of packaged and fresh food and 520,500 pounds of turkey to area families in need.

The event is not open to the general public. Prince George’s County Department of Social Services pre-determines eligibility for participation in the Harvest Feast food distribution program, and in order to qualify, participants must provide proof of residency.

Those residents who attend will not only receive holiday foodstuffs, but will be able to meet Redskins face-to-face. Redskins players – including Vernon Davis, Arie Kouandjio, Anthony Lanier, Niles Paul, Terrelle Pryor Sr. and Chris Thompsonare scheduled to attend the event.

Jay Gruden has previously mentioned that Terrelle Pryor will be seeing a specialist for his injury on Monday, and all of the players will be doing this on a short week, after returning from the Saints game in New Orleans on Sunday, and ahead of the Thanksgiving day game against the Giants on Thursday. No one should take lightly what it means for a player to participate in an event like this on a day when he would normally be recovering from the rigors of having played a professional football game just the day before.

I know that I tend to hold players to an impossibly high level of accountability on the field, but it’s easy to see why Bruce Allen was so proud of this event, and the Redskins players who participate in it. This is part of the mostly unseen contribution that the NFL players make to their communities.

As a 12-year-old boy, growing up in Virginia, one of the events of my life seemed quite ordinary at the time. Julius Erving — Dr. J — showed up at the playground in my neighborhood, just a three-block walk from my house, and spent an hour or so running basketball drills with me and the other kids in my neighborhood. I lived in a pretty normal middle-class neighborhood; he wasn’t there for a photo op because we were desperately poor or because a kid in the neighborhood was dying of cancer; it was just part of the life of a professional athlete to try to enrich people’s lives. I have to be honest enough to say that I didn’t become a better basketball player, but it probably increased my enthusiasm for the game.

Players hold a hero-like status in most communities, and simply showing up can be a big deal. Showing up to give out free food in the holidays seems a particularly meaningful give-back to me.

I’m not gonna ask anyone to stop laughing at Bruce Allen for his Harvest Fest reference, because... well... it’s good to laugh.

I hope you’ll forgive me if I suggest that Terrelle Pryor should not be put in charge of handing out the turkeys, since he’d likely drop about half of them. But I do want to suggest that every time we laugh at Bruce for his Matt Jones-like ability to fumble nearly any situation, despite his reputation as a ‘politician’, we remember that what lies behind that joke is a very real community program that positively impacts the lives of thousands of people every holiday season.

Allen, shown here delivering Thanksgiving meals at the Redskins’ annual Harvest Feast food distribution program in 2011, was criticized for his remark that the losing team was ‘winning off the field.’ (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

The 2017 Harvest Feast is supported by:

  • Ryan Homes,
  • Bank of America,
  • Shoppers Food & Pharmacy,
  • Performance Foodservice of Maryland,
  • Capital Area Food Bank,
  • PepsiCo,
  • Prince George’s County Social Services, and
  • the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation.

For more information on the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation’s programs and events, or to donate, visit www.redskins.com/community, or follow the Foundation on Twitter at @RedskinsCR or on Instagram at @Redskinsgiveback.

Any questions regarding eligibility for participation should be directed to Prince George’s County Department of Social Services.

Poll

How do you feel about NFL players ‘giving back’ to their communities?

This poll is closed

  • 34%
    I’m impressed by the incredible efforts most players make in this area.
    (9 votes)
  • 26%
    It’s fine, but lots of people are involved in their local communities. These guys aren’t doing anything special.
    (7 votes)
  • 19%
    For the kind of money they get paid, they damned well ought to be giving something back!
    (5 votes)
  • 3%
    It’s a start, but they should do even more.
    (1 vote)
  • 11%
    I think it’s all just photo-ops to enhance the brand image of the players and the teams.
    (3 votes)
  • 3%
    As long as they stand for the national anthem and avoid beating their wives & children, and I don’t much care what else they do.
    (1 vote)
26 votes total Vote Now