- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 13, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

As the Washington Redskins wind up their third training camp in Richmond, one has to wonder if anybody is happy with the arrangement.

Are the people in Richmond, whose tax dollars are being used to subsidize the Redskins‘ training camp, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, happy?

Are Redskins fans, who had to suffer through another embarrassing visit from a team to Richmond — last year it was the New England Patriots, who exposed Robert Griffin III, and this season the Houston Texans, who literally beat up the Redskins so bad the coaches called off the dual practices — happy?

And are the Redskins themselves happy? Not the hierarchy, who convinced the state of Virginia and the city of Richmond to help build an impressive training facility. They must be elated.

No, the players themselves.

I’m sure they are comfortable in their nice downtown hotel, and enjoying the nightlife and hospitality of the city. But years from now, will they share the legendary stories that Redskins past share about Carlisle?

I mean, how much bonding is really going on?

Carlisle, Pennsylvania, is a wonderful small town — but there’s not much to do, particularly when the Redskins called it their training camp home. Yet when you mention Carlisle to a former Redskins player, a smile comes to his face, and a story usually follows — tales of stink-bomb and water-bucket fights in the dormitories of Dickinson College, the silly things that men do to amuse themselves when they are away from home and locked away together.

Hall of Fame linebacker Chris Hanburger told me this story for “Hail Victory,” my oral history of the Redskins: “The upper floors of the dorm at Dickinson had recessed windows, and pigeons used to flock there. I had gone into one of the rooms and left the window open during the day. So I went back up there at night, when the pigeons were roosting. I grabbed one and went back down to the second floor and quietly opened up Len Hauss and Dave Crossan’s room. I had a pass key. I put the pigeons in there and closed the door. They woke up with a pigeon cooing and walking around their room.”

Foolish, yes, but it is one of Hanburger’s fond memories of bonding with his teammates — as is, for example, Sonny Jurgensen sneaking out and breaking curfew by hanging out with coach Otto Graham’s son, Dewey; John Riggins, banging on Diron Talbert’s door in the Dickinson dorm at 4 a.m., yelling, “Talbe, let me in. These guys ain’t giving me no money,” and then walking out the next day; or something as simple as the quiet Art Monk and Monte Coleman, finding fishing holes in Carlisle after practice.

“After morning practice, instead of a siesta time after lunch, he and I would go fishing,” Coleman told me.

Or sometimes, the players would stage a revolt of sorts — like the night Joe Jacoby and Russ Grimm took the rookie offensive linemen hostage at the Fireside, one of the local drinking establishments, blocking the door and collecting keys, stuffing them in the popcorn machine, preventing them from going to a scheduled line meeting that night. According to tight end Don Warren, who was sent by tight ends coach Rennie Simmons to free the hostages, Grimm said, “Go back and tell [offensive line coach Jim Hanifan] we are staying here. We’re not going to the meeting.”

Jim Lachey remembered the meeting was in response to questions about the offensive line during that preseason. “So we boycotted the meeting to show that we were all right,” Lachey told me. “We got about 150 yards rushing the next game. It was a lot of fun.”

There were little repercussions for the revolt.

“A lot of these coaches like players to bond together and get close, and I think they knew how important this was, and that little hour and a half they missed in meetings was not as important as how they grew together that night,” Warren told me.

Maybe these current Redskins playrs are bonding during the time in Richmond, and we’re won’t know about it for years to come, when they smile and tell stories about training camp hijinks. Or maybe all they’ll have to remember Richmond by are the times the Patriots made them look silly, or when the Texans came to town and beat them up for the whole world to see on HBO.

• Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 and espn980.com.

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