This afternoon at Redskins Park, players Stephen Bowen, Kareem Moore, Brandon Banks, Erik Cook and Nick Sundberg challenged 50 local military members from the Army’s “Old Guard” to games of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.
The event was organized by the Redskins Community Relations, the USO, and Pros vs. G.I. Joes, a non profit organization that links up soldiers with professional athletes to play video games in a relaxed setting.
“It’s just an incredible event,” said Pros vs. G.I. Joes founder Greg Zinone. “The thing that makes our events different from anyone else’s, is that you’ll see we’re not a handshake tour, we’re not an autograph session. Right from that door up there, the troops strip off their rank and the players strip off their uniforms, and it’s just like hanging out with the guys in your basement. You’re just hanging out with your best friends in your basement. Who wouldn’t wanna play Call of Duty with professional athletes?”
This is the Redskins third time teaming up for the event, and Zinone called the team one of his organization’s biggest supporters.
“Right when the schedule comes out every year, I get a call and the Redskins set up a date right around Veterans Day,” he said. “What better way to support our troops than to do what they’d be sitting home doing anyway?
The event featured a push-ups contest between a soldier and the Pros vs. G.I. Joes’ own Joe Oneto:
Pretty evenly-matched, but Oneto proved that he’s still got the goods.
The players and soldiers rotated through playing the games and eating chicken wings, just enjoying the relaxed setting.
Specialist Blake Carifan got his first crack at Call of Duty against Kareem Moore and Brandon Banks.
Think about that when you’re playing some smack-talking 14-year-old from Kansas tonight.
“It’s awesome,” Carifan said of being at Redskins Park. “This is honestly the first time that I’ve ever done something like this.”
Carifan was raised outside of Baltimore by a mother that’s a die-hard Redskins fan, and–unfortunately–a Cowboys-loving father. This divided house forced him to abstain and choose the Ravens.
“I didn’t wanna be involved in that politics,” he said. “And I didn’t get a chance to tell my mom about this yet because I didn’t find out that I was coming here until this morning. She’s gonna be so psyched when she finds out.”
He continued: “I can’t think of anywhere else that I would be able to just hang out and play video games with these guys. This is something that you can tell your kids and grandkids about: I played Call of Duty 3 with the Washington Redskins.”
Of course by then, there will probably be a Call of Duty 47, but who’s counting? I bet he cheers for the home team when the Cowboys come to town in two weeks.
Stephen Bowen is one of several Redskins that waited for the midnight Call of Duty release last night. This afternoon, he couldn’t think of anyone better to play his first few games with.
“I just tip my cap to them and how they defend this country,” he said. “Getting to socialize with them and see how they’re doing, play some video games with them, it’s just great. I’m sure they appreciate us coming out and being supportive, but for me it’s a no-brainer. The stuff that they do for us allows us to just relax and go out there and play football for a living.”
“They got the hard job–football is easy.”
Redskins returner Brandon Banks, who isn’t much of a first-person-shooter enthusiast, needed to bring the gaming experience back to his arena, however, and challenged one soldier to a game of Madden ’12. Naturally, Banks selected the Redskins, and inserted himself into the starting offense. His opposition was the Giants, in a rematch of Week 1 of the season.
Things started off slowly for Banks, who fell behind 7-0 on the second drive. But by the fourth quarter, the Rex Grossman-Brandon Banks connection was clicking, and virtual Banks had three touchdowns and over 100 yards receiving. He also had a stellar day on special teams, managing to block a long field goal attempt. A few scores late sealed the deal for the virtual Redskins, but the soldier walked away with a free copy of Madden ’12.
It’s always nice when you see two groups of people that are genuinely in awe of the other.