- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 6, 2018

ASHBURN — Mason Foster settled into his “man cave” for the Stanley Cup Final with pizza and his two sons, 5 and 3.

The Redskins linebacker, like thousands of others across the region — has become deeply invested in the Capitals. He was the “Fan of the Game” for Game 1 of the Capitals’ first-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets, leading the pre-game “Let’s Go Caps” chant.

Foster says his sons, especially, have grown attached to the sport.

“They’re asking me all the time, ‘Is it the finals tonight? Is it the finals?’” Foster said. “So they’re excited.”

The Capitals’ run for the Cup, Foster said, should be an inspiration for the Redskins.

Foster said he’s felt the energy, from the fans who fill the National Portrait Gallery steps to the thousands who show up to the Capitals watch parties at Capital One Arena.

“It’s a great vibe out here in D.C. and we’ve got to get there,” Foster said. “We’ve got to get something going because you see how crazy the fans are going and how much love is in the city.

“You’ve got to win some games, man, and keep the ball rolling.”

Cornerback Josh Norman and safety D.J. Swearinger have echoed Foster.

Norman attended Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final and raved about the atmosphere.

“That thing was wild!” he said, later adding the Capitals’ run has energized him. “If they start it off, why not us?”

Swearinger tweeted, “Shoutout To The @Capitals It’s Our Turn Now!!”

“It definitely has got to motivate you,” Swearinger said. “Any time your city is balling, championship, the way they’re playing, it’s got to motivate you and all other teams.”

The Redskins have long been No. 1 in the District sports hierarchy — even at the Capitals-Blue Jackets game, Foster said, fans wanted to talk football — but the city has embraced the Capitals.

The team announced Thursday night’s watch party at Capital One Arena for Game 5 is “sold out.” Tickets were free but still were reserved ahead of time. The team’s television ratings are also at record highs.

There’s no rivalry between the teams.

The Capitals gave Foster a No. 54 jersey, his number on the Redskins, when he attended the playoffs. Foster said he plans to have it signed and then framed in his house.

Foster said he loves watching the Capitals with his sons, and his youngest even has “his little hockey mask, his jersey and all this stuff. It’s beautiful, man.”

The linebacker took his boys to their first ever hockey game in the playoffs, adding his kids now yell “Let’s Go Caps” whenever they hear the chant.

“I can’t wait to see them pull it off,” Foster said.

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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