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Redskins Park, 3:59 a.m.


From right, Dan Pearson, Joe Gibbs, Frank Doran, the pineapple.


"You guys are nuts," Joe Gibbs was saying to the 30 or so Redskins fans gathered outside Redskins Park at 3:59 a.m. "You guys are crazy."

And yet a few minutes later, there was the Hall of Fame coach, standing in the cold, posing with two of those fans, who happened to be holding a pineapple they had found earlier in the morning outside a home in Alexandria, and who were now asking Gibbs how they could deliver said pineapple to Chris Cooley.

"Um, I don't know," Gibbs said, as the pineapple was handed off to a security guard. "I think he's gone."

"Trying to figure out who's crazy enough to come out here?" Scott Mandir asked me as I scribbled in my notebook.

"Yup," I said, "and that would be you."

"Whatever," he said and laughed.

It's an awful cliche to play amateur sociologist, nattering on about individuals seeking a group identity in this atomized age. Or the one about sport as religion, about its secular glow around which life can be organized. Or the one about these diehards being the real core Redskins, the ones who will never wear other colors or leave for bigger bucks.

Yeah, they're all cliches. Whatever. They're a heckuva lot more interesting than the one-game-at-a-time just-kept-fighting alternatives. Which is why, when I pulled up to the Park at 2:57 a.m.--more than an hour before the team was scheduled to arrive home from Minnesota--and saw that four cars and six people had already beaten me there, that the propane heater was already on and the conversation had already turned to "how 'bout our line today?" and "what a brilliant challenge," I wasn't sorry I had missed my flight to Minneapolis. (And I hope you enjoy that extra $50 I paid for a confirmed seat on the next plane out, which ended up landing 14 minutes before the game ended, Bad Airline That Will Not Be Named.)


Waiting.


"Good morning everyone!" said Chris Lopez, one of the organizers, when he arrived at 3:06. Led by Chris and his wife Christie, fans have been gathering at the Park for sendoffs and welcome homes for three seasons; as few as four or six depending on the arrival time and the result and the weather, as many as hundreds after the playoff loss to Seattle. Sandy Zier-Teitler drove down from Ellicott City last night; she had to be at work by 10 a.m. Someone else was opening a Sears store at 8 and planned not to sleep at all.

There was even an Eagles fan, Matt Dabson, who was there sort of for the heck of it and kept telling everyone how "his boys" had delivered them an early Christmas present. Why were we all waiting in a wet, muddy, dark field in the middle of the night, nourished only by the blessed coffee and donut holes and hot chocolate some wise souls had brought?

"What do you mean 'Why?' " Chris Lopez said. "Why not?"

The security guard came down to usher us up through the gate and to the front door around 3:40; "please refrain from, like, touching any cars, because I do see some new faces," he said. The buses lumbered into the driveway around 3:57, and we were told to stand up on the grass as the cheering began. Then the players embarked, and the fans whooped, and Bubba Tyer shouted "How 'bout them Redskins," and everyone chanted "We Want Dallas," and Joe Gibbs came over to thank those fans he's always talking about in his press conferences.


Signing hats.

"You guys are nuts, coming out here," he said. "We've got hats, if anybody doesn't have one. We've kinda given a bunch of stuff away. We weren't prepared for you guys coming out tonight. Hey, I want to say thanks, thank y'all a lot."

"THANK YOU!!!!" everyone shouted.

"If anybody has anything else you want signed, I'll sign it," Gibbs said. "Thank y'all, thanks again guys, we appreciate it a lot."

Sure, some people think it's weird, but in a gazillion-dollar, 90,000-fan-stadium, buy-our-beer-and-burgers-and-official-lawn-ornaments-and-official-garden-rake sport, there was something very small-town- high school about the whole event, something that made this seem less like a corporation and more like a community (minus the orders not to touch the cars or stand on the pavement, I guess).

You're wondering about the pineapple, right? Like I said, some fans found it in Alexandria. I figured it was a display of Southern hospitality; they figured it was a sign.


The pineapple, again.

"We saw it and we thought of Chris Cooley," Frank Doran told me, referring to the Pro Bowl. "What better reason to give someone a pineapple?"

"People have pumpkins outside their houses; why not pineapples?" asked Dan Pearson. "Pumpkins sound stupid in December. Pineapples are where it's at. Especially when you're going to Hawaii."

So here they were, just after 4 in the morning, explaining to Joe Gibbs that Cooley had won their "Pineapple Player of the Week" award. Soon, Pete Kendall came by to say thanks and wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Everyone thanked everyone else again. At 4:06, we began to walk back to our cars. The two girls next to me had squealed when Gibbs appeared, and the giddiness was still bubbling over when we left.

"Totally worth it; who would not do this?" 19-year-old Katie Richter was saying to her friend. I asked why.

"Cuz the Redskins are amazing, and if you're a fan you should do anything for them," she said. "Clearly."

I asked whether she ever thought this might be a bit crazy.

"Hell no," her friend said. "Not at all," Katie agreed. "Nothing's too crazy as far as the Redskins are concerned."

By Dan Steinberg  |  December 24, 2007; 11:13 AM ET
Categories:  Redskins  
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Next: Top Seeds and Week 17 and the Bandwagon

Comments

The security guard came down to usher us up through the gate and to the front door around 3:40; "please refrain from, like, touching any cars, because I do see some new faces," he said.

LOL. Like a religion, always recruiting new members.

Wow, Dan, things happen for a reason. And while I hate the idea of a new Dad being up at 4 am for any non-kid-related reason, this is a totally kewl blog. The pineapple angle is so Steinbergian.

For Christmas, my fiance and his Dad have 50-yard line tickets to the Dallas game. Now, this is tricky -- because if the Redskins lose this gift will really be a bummer. Hard hanging out with religious zealots.

Posted by: Nancy | December 24, 2007 12:22 PM | Report abuse

It was good to see you out there last night w/ us Dan. We were all going to be there win or lose but the win definitely makes it feel warmer outside at 4 am.

Posted by: G20 Fdacowboys | December 24, 2007 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Way to go all of you who showed up! I'm out of state at the moment and thank god the game was on TV. My phone was blowing up with fellow fans cheering and b****ing as the game wore on. Hail!

Posted by: Falls Church | December 24, 2007 1:29 PM | Report abuse

This was my first time out there with the ExtremeSkins folks and it was a blast. I don't know who else was new there but maybe I was the reference and the concern of the security guard. Glad to see a bunch of dedicated fans going the extra mile for the team!

Posted by: SK1NS4L1FE | December 24, 2007 1:31 PM | Report abuse

I had a blast out there as well. Great article Dan. I'm glad to see that many people showed up for the welcome home, that was my second one this season. It goes to show that Redskins fans are THE BEST no doubt.

Posted by: mikachu02 | December 24, 2007 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Dan, bring out JLC next time so we can have some words with him

Posted by: G20 Fdacowboys | December 24, 2007 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Any word if Cooley actually received the pineapple? And if so, did he eat in fact eat it?

Posted by: Dave | December 25, 2007 10:50 AM | Report abuse

there is only one eagles fan dumb enough to meet at redskins park at 4 in the morning. god bless that moron (even if he has terrible taste in music).

Posted by: murf | December 25, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Dan,

I woke up on Christmas morning, i get my paper, i read about the pope and other acts of goodwill, (i am jewish by the way), and i turn to the sports section.

You point out, even glorify, the fact that Frank Doran STOLE a pineapple from someones front yard in alexandria. Pineapples have a long history in Alexandria, you retard. see the quote below....

Since the days of merchant sailing ships the pineapple has been the sign of landside hospitality, inextricably linked to the romance of the sea.

i got it from this website: http://pages.alexandriacity.com/shops/gift_old.htm

perhaps you could let young frank know he's a criminal (and a moron for supporting the skins, especially at 4am).

also, perhaps, how about an apology from you for glorifying crime in my neighborhood? maybe you could even contact the police and tell them where Frankie lives and turn him in?

and, maybe, you could expand the size of your pea brain and learn about the symbols of the city you live in?

Posted by: SK | December 25, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Hey, I resent that pea-brain thing. My brain's at least the size of a pineapple.

Plus, I don't live in Alexandria.

Although someone did steal a pumpkin from outside my house. Believe it or not, I survived the ordeal.

Posted by: Dan Steinberg | December 25, 2007 3:34 PM | Report abuse

When someone decorates their house with things like pumpkins and pineapples, they should be prepared for them to be taken. I suspect those two young men were walking on a side street not far from King Street after drinking and took the pineapple. Anyone who leaves things like that outside their house just yards from where people get drunk shouldn't be surprised when they get taken.

Posted by: CKHootie | December 25, 2007 10:20 PM | Report abuse

LOCK UP FRANK DORAN!

Posted by: Unsilent Majority | December 26, 2007 8:32 AM | Report abuse

If that pineapple was taken from Alexandria, then its owner was probably a Redskins fan. I know if someone took my pineapple I would be pissed, but if I read in the paper later that it was given to Chris Cooley, it would absolutely make my day.


And if the owner is not a Redskins fan, then **** 'em.

Posted by: Goose | December 26, 2007 9:03 AM | Report abuse

"And if the owner is not a Redskins fan, then **** 'em."

I totally agree with you Goose

Posted by: G20 Fdacowboys | December 26, 2007 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Make Pineapple Player of the Week a mainstay at Redskin Park!

I happen to know Frank and we would be more than happy to bring pineapples for the skins every week.

I agree with Goose as well, I'd love for my pineapple to be given to Cooley. He deserves it.

Posted by: Shu | December 26, 2007 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Stay tuned for breaking news on that pineapple....

Posted by: Anonymous | December 26, 2007 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Just don't ask Cooley to sign it and give it back....

Posted by: WrongDog | December 26, 2007 2:46 PM | Report abuse

If cooley signed it and gave it back, i'd put that pineapple on eBay for frank. Talked to him earlier today, He and Danny are going to replace it today. :P

Posted by: Shu | December 26, 2007 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Well since this gift seems to be "regifited" (from a Sienfeild episode, SK knows what I am talking about) here is what I did with it.

http://www.luckypineapple.com/pics/Misc/versace_pineapple.JPG

Very upset now Frank.

Posted by: Chris Cooley | December 26, 2007 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Why is that Frank guy getting all the blame? Dan Pearson is just as responsible for STEALING that pineapple as Frank. Dan should be locked up and so should Frank. Chris Cooley is a big guy, maybe he can do to Dan and Frank what he did to that pineapple in that picture. Then we'll see who thinks this is funny. Come on, someones decorations were vandalized!

Posted by: ToTheTop | December 26, 2007 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Idiots like these guys are the reason why Art Monk has not been voted into the Hall of Fame. Real Redskins fans should be embarrassed that these two are considered such die hards because they stole property.

Posted by: BethesdaDesda | December 26, 2007 11:14 PM | Report abuse

You people are so ignorant. Ranting and raving about a stolen pineapple. COME THE FREAK ON. Is it the end of the world?? Dan, I am currently out in Iraq, and a die hard skins fan. This story is one that truly bettered my mood. It is one that shows people being brought together for the sake of the Skins. Keep up the work man. All you haters out there are Commies and or Al Qaeda. OORAH!! Hail VICTORY!!

Posted by: In Iraq | December 27, 2007 5:09 AM | Report abuse

In Iraq:

I realize you're in a place where lawlessness and brutality are the norm but back here in the U.S. the rule "Thou Shalt Not Steal" is quite widely embraced(it's even on God's Top Ten list). If someone had stolen something from your lawn or one of your family members (no matter how small or inexpensive) I'm sure you'd be really pissed off and feel violated (and why would you wish that on someone else?)

K

Posted by: SEKim | December 27, 2007 10:09 AM | Report abuse

LETS PUT THEM TO DEATH

Posted by: K-bow | December 27, 2007 7:18 PM | Report abuse

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