Editor’s Note: “Dreams Do Come True” is a five-part series. For Part 1, click here. For Part 2, click here. For Part 3, click here. For Part 4, click here.
The following day, on Monday morning, I packed up my things and got ready to fly back home to Arizona. I was feeling so much, I was feeling overwhelmed with emotion.
When I had met with Ricky Sanders the first night I had gotten to town, he had said he really wanted a copy of my book, Whatever it Takes. I had left a message at the front desk of the hotel for him to call me before he left so I could get one to him. Suddenly, my phone rang and it was him, it was Ricky Sanders. I practically had to pinch myself. This stuff never gets old to me, even being 46 years old. I’ll still never forget when President Reagan said, “Where’s Ricky Sanders,” at the White House Celebration after the Redskins had won Super Bowl XXII.
I spoke with Ricky for a couple of minutes and we said we’d meet each other in the hotel lobby. My inner-child raced down to the elevator, like I was running a deep post pattern still feeling like that 13-year old kid back when I met the team for the first time.
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There he was by the door, there was No. 83, Ricky Sanders, famed member of the most famous trio of receivers in league history, “The Posse.” He embraced me, I gave him my book along with a special message I had written to him on the inside of the cover and quickly we posed together for selfie.
He said, “I love you man.”
I replied, “I love you too Ricky.”
As we were embracing he said, “If you ever hear of anything in scouting or something else, please keep me in mind.” I was super surprised he said that to me. I was actually caught off guard and I responded, “Absolutely Ricky, Absolutely.” That was a super humbling moment for me, to have one of my heroes ask something like that of me. Crazy how life comes full circle.
I called a taxi and went to the airport dragging myself every step of the way. I did not want to leave. The weekend went way too fast. I could’ve been out there for the rest of my life and it would have gone too fast for me. I tried to hold back my tears on the ride to the airport and called my best friend, Jamie Dickerman in North Dakota. Reminiscent of the “Fastest Two Minutes in Sports,” I recapped as much as I could as it seemed like the taxi was pulling up to my terminal at Reagan National before I knew it.
I boarded the plane and literally, from the time the plane lifted into the air to the time it touched down at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, I penned the following thank you letter to Bruce Allen and this is the actual letter, word for word. I emailed this to him:
I wanted to write to say a very deep and heartfelt thank you to you for everything this weekend. I so much appreciate everything you and the team did for me. It was like living in a dream for those three days.
I felt so much like a part of the team. On the bus pulling into the stadium I had tears in my eyes. The rain made it about as close to perfect as possible, it was football weather, it’s what I remember from those old games at RFK. See, I’m wiping away tears on the plane even writing this to you. Then I got to walk out onto the field with Charlie Brown and the 1980’s players, the generation when I was little.
I stood in the tunnel next to Jay Schroeder, big Highway 66 Joe Jacoby, Timmy Smith, KB, Donny Warren, Jeff Bostic and my good friend Charlie Brown. We’ve been knowing each other about 20 years now. To walk out on that field with that group of guys…out into the rain…was something. It’s the first time I’d ever been out on the field anywhere let alone in that stadium. I stood out by midfield with the guys, Ricky Sanders and Gary Clark we’re standing next to me, shook hands with both of them. Bruce, it was surreal for me.
All the guys wanted to get out of the rain, lol, but I decided to stand next to the tunnel for a few more minutes as the rain was coming down, dripping from my Redskins hat. All of a sudden the music started and the guys came out of the tunnel, smoke, the fans yelling, holy smokes I was right there. The refs ran out next to me.
The security guys asked me leave the field right before the National Anthem, but one of them let me stand at the edge of the tunnel for the Anthem. I stood there, rain falling, Redskins hat over my heart. Got the chills. What an experience to be there. Then Calvin (Parson) sought me out and offered to show me to my suite, which by the way was amazing. I’ve never sat in a suite like that for a game and by the way, as Calvin’s boss, I’d like you to know he has been great all throughout coordinating my trip and in person. Really good guy. Really kind, professional and courteous guy.
I got to to my seat in suite 128 and was like wow. I was sitting next to the Redskins marching band of all places. What a touch. Of course I wish we would’ve won and I was pulling hard that we would. I was deeply disturbed at all the 49ers fans chanting “defense,” I just sat there thinking, “Never again.”
I so much want to do whatever I can to fill that place with rabid Redskins fans that make it so loud in that place that the opposing team can’t even hear themselves think. I know you know my heart for the team Bruce and I know that you know how badly I want to work on your staff, but I needed to say that. I will do everything I can as part of the team to win if given the opportunity. I want this more than anything. I sat there thinking that thought seeing my reflection in the tuba player was holding right in front of me in the final seconds. I want to do whatever I can to get that guy playing Hail to the Redskins so many times players on the opposing team learn the song.
I didn’t want to leave the stadium, I hung around as long as I could, but of course, I had to catch the bus, lol. First I went down in the rain lower level by the field and took a video message for my wife thanking her for all of her love and support and prayers. She told me last night in all my pictures I’ve been posting over the weekend she loved how happy I looked noticeably happy being around my first love again, the Redskins. She was like wow you look so happy. I said I was. I told her how much I love it out here and how much I love being around all of it again. I told her I felt like such a part of the team, I felt so comfortable around everyone, I felt like one of the guys.
The first night at old Jimmy’s BBQ was incredible to experience too being around so many of the guys. Sat at a table and ate with Charlie Brown, Big Ed Simmons and Chris Draft. Had a heart felt conversation with Chris, he shared with me about how he lost his wife to the lung cancer and I shared with him about my daughter’s cancer, mine and my youngest son Isaiah’s brain tumor that he had removed six years ago and he’s doing great now. That’s a whole another part of my story that happened since the book that I haven’t had a chance to share with you yet, but I did share with Chris since we were talking about cancer and stuff that night. I loved hearing about all the stuff Chris does to bring hope and encouragement to kids and people with cancer. He introduced me to this couple he knows a little later, the wife was a survivor.
Got to catch up with Ricky Sanders too. As you probably remember from the book how he returned my pennant to me as a kid, I shared that story with him and also as the weekend progressed we talked some more. He wanted a copy of my book so I got him one. He gave me his number too so it looks like the beginnings of a new friendship. Amazing how life comes full circle.
I wanted to especially say thank you to you Bruce for taking the time to meet with me on Saturday after the playground build, which I really enjoyed being a part of too and working with Tony Peters and Sidney Johnson. I’m not good with tools, lol, but I did what I could to help and enjoyed that experience. I know how busy things must be at your level and to take that time the day before a game meant a lot to me. To be able to sit down with you with your lineage and acumen for the game and talk Redskins, to talk football and to talk about and explore the possibilities was an incredible experience for me. To be considered to be a part of the greatest team, the Washington Redskins is an honor of a lifetime for me personally.
In reflection, I wanted to say, I did research the foot injury to Chris Thompson online prior to coming out there, but I could not find any type of estimation of how long he would be out, which is why I kept him in my live Minnesota report, hoping he would be available by then. I also had my 350 page ‘98 draft book with me in my bag (the book that got me the Jets job) that I did not share with the other directions our conversation was naturally taking.
However, if you would ever like to see that mainly for the sake of showing hundreds of examples of me knowing how to fill out college report forms I would be happy to provide that. I also have done a lot of other work for a college scouting friend in the league entering information into a couple of different team databases on the college side. I can type 80 WPM.
So in case anything should be available on the college side with Doug and Kyle like you were saying, I do have experiences and I attended four combines in Indianapolis with the Jets and two more with Sports Management World Wide and I’ve been to the Senior Bowl twice. I mention all that to give some additional insight into my experiences with college in just in case. I also had over 30 pages of handwritten “padding” of all Minnesota’s plays from the first six games I did not share that further demonstrate my attention to detail.
I was able to hook up with Charlie Brown Saturday evening and he took me to dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings where we were able to catch up and visit for a few hours, which was great to be able to do. Charlie has always been great with me and he’s always done what he could to help me. We’ve always had this special bond since we met.
The Sunday morning breakfast was super cool to be a part of too! Of course I was there right when it opened and was surprised to see Sonny in there sitting all by himself. I respectfully approached him introduced myself and he said sure to a picture. I was also able to shake hands with Bobby Beathard and sat next to LeRoy Jackson and Charlie Brown for breakfast. It was surreal being in there with all the guys again for that.
All of the accommodations were very generous. Please tell Mr. Snyder a very special thank you from me. Every part of my travels, stay at the Gaylord, the suite at the game, the team bbq and the breakfast, every part of it was beyond kind and I deeply appreciate all of it. Please let him know that and my heartfelt gratitude if that is possible.
I was so excited to go on this trip I couldn’t even sleep the night before coming out east. From the moment the plane touched down to the moment it lifted back into the sky it was like a dream, only I was awake. It was like a dream I never wanted to end.
I’ve said it many times and I will say it again. Thank you Bruce. Thank you for absolutely everything so far.
He replied with an email,
I’m happy you were able to attend and be around our great Alumni. However, I’m disappointed that you didn’t get to see a victory.
It was a pleasure to meet you and to feel your passion for football.
We will stay in touch
BEAT The VIKES!
Hail To The Redskins…..Dreams Really Do Come True!