- The Washington Times - Friday, May 9, 2008

Jeff Fisher knows about heat. He is a Prince George’s County firefighter and therefore intimate with hot places.

You might think, then, that Fisher would seek someplace cool to spend his leisure time. You might think he’d just want to relax, like a 44-year-old man should on a hot spring day.

But Fisher definitely is not relaxing. He is wearing a football helmet and pads, running around on a hot, dusty, weed-filled field in Bowie, trying to put a hit on his brothers in the brotherhood of public safety and loving every hit.

Fisher is practicing with the D.C. Generals Police and Fire football team, a group of about 50 public safety officers — they’re drawn from among the police, firefighters and the military — from 20 agencies around the Washington metropolitan area who have banded together to follow a dream.

They often see nightmares come to life in their jobs, so days like this are important.

“I enjoy it a lot, the camaraderie of this team,” said Fisher, who serves as the club’s middle linebacker. “Guys want to be here. These guys are very tight. They have become some of my best friends. And what we do here is for a good cause, too.”

The D.C. Generals tomorrow hope to make a big contribution to good causes — the team raises money for the D.C. Chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors and the Washington Center Foundation Burn Unit — in a football game against the California Blue Knights in a 1 p.m. contest at Gallaudet University’s Hotchkiss Field. The game kicks off National Police Week in the District, and Police Chief Cathy Lanier, a supporter of the Generals, is scheduled to do the ceremonial coin toss.

The Knights are one of 20 teams in the National Public Safety Football League, which requires players to be sworn and paid public safety employees — police, fire, corrections, military police and such. Teams also must be a nonprofit organization raising money for charities.

The league began with the creation of a New York Police Department team called “The Finest” following a challenge to the city’s firefighters in 1972. The Generals started two years ago when Victor Dobro, a Prince George’s County police officer, moved to the area after nine years in Albuquerque, N.M., where he had played on a team.

“It was something I was a part of when I was an officer in Albuquerque and it was great fun and camaraderie, so I wanted to try it here,” Dobro said. “We started recruiting and got the ball rolling.”

The Generals went 2-3 in Division 2 of the league last year and hope to improve enough under coach Mike Reynolds to win the division title next year.

Reynolds last week at Whitemarsh Park barked orders at these men, men who face danger every day, to prepare them for tomorrow’s game.

“Stop walking around and moping around,” Reynolds said. “You’re not China dolls.”

Reynolds, 60, is a former District police officer and football coach at the high school and college level — he coached at DeMatha and Bishop McNamara and also at Bowie State. He has no problem pushing these men who risk their lives at their jobs.

“They are special men,” Reynolds said. “Every day could be their last. Last year, when we were playing a game in Charlotte, we heard sirens during the game. After it ended, we heard that two Charlotte officers had been killed. Here, on the football field, you see the other side of police officers and firemen, you see the passion they play with and the brotherhood they have.”

That camaraderie and passion for football motivates these officers to spend two days a week practicing, drive to New York or Philadelphia to play and dip into their own pockets to pay for helmets and shoulder pads or find a corporate sponsor to help out.

Marcus Stewart Tibbs (they must call him Mr. Tibbs), a wide receiver and kick returner, is a Prince George’s County police officer who played football at High Point High School and six years of semi-pro ball with the Washington Chiefs.

“It is different from the semi-pro league,” Mr. Tibbs said. “There is a lot more camaraderie and brotherhood here. I am enjoying it a lot. I get to play football and hang out with my brothers. It is a fire that won’t die, and as long as I can I will play here.”

Todd Tiscareno is a newcomer to the Generals from Los Angeles. At his first practice last week, Tiscareno, a 29-year-old Anne Arundel County firefighter, expected to do only some running drills.

Instead, the Generals put a helmet and pads on him, and Tiscareno was all over the field, hitting people hard enough to break his chin strap and knock his helmet off.

“Can’t hit no better than that,” Reynolds said. “L.A., you are one nice-looking guy.”

Tiscareno has been welcomed as a member of the Generals because he has shown what it takes to be a General — a love of the game and a desire to share it with people who, like him, already share the uncertainty of their lives every day they do their jobs.

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