If the situation ever presents itself to walk in the front door at Redskins Park, you’ll hear the warm welcome of team receptionist, Ms. BJ Blanchard. If you turn to your left and look in the coaches’ office, you’ll see the smiling face of the coaches’ secretary/receptionist, Ms. Tammy Renich.
And it’s the way it’s been for quite some time. Players and coaches have come and gone, but these two have become hard working icons at the Park over the years.
So at season’s end this year, they were due for a little downtime, and joked about taking a vacation to see London Fletcher play at the Pro Bowl. Unfortunately, when the Pro Bowl roster was released, No. 59 was listed as an alternate and appeared unlikely to attend.
Ms. Tammy explained afterward that she couldn’t help but share her disgust at the results with Fletcher.
“I told him, ‘London, I can’t believe you didn’t get voted in–you led the league in tackles!'” she recounted. “‘And what’s more, we were going to go watch you play if you made it.’ So he told me, ‘Well, there’s no guarantees, but I could still make it if someone goes down with an injury.'”
This non-guarantee turned out to be prophetic, as Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher bowed out with injury after the season, opening the door for Fletcher to make his third-consecutive Pro Bowl. It also got the ball rolling on Ms. Tammy and Ms. BJ’s first trip.
“The next day, I congratulated London, but told him that even if we could get down there, how would we get into the game?” Ms. Tammy explained. “And he laughed–y’know, one of his big London laughs–and said, ‘Oh Ms. Tammy, if you and Ms. BJ are willing to go all the way there to watch me play, I’ll get you the tickets. It would be my honor.'”
Getting the pair to Hawaii was a Redskins team effort.
They used a Christmas gift of airplane vouchers from head coach Mike Shanahan to get down there. They pooled their monetary Christmas gifts from players for their lodging and amenities. They got Pro Bowl tickets courtesy of London Fletcher, and sat with his family on gameday. And courtesy of Redskins public relations, they were able to join No. 59 for pictures on the sidelines before the game:
“He’s so good to us,” Ms. Tammy said, shaking her head. “It was awesome to be there, but he made it doubly so with his kindness. He had us sit with his family, and he even took us to the players-only party after the game (where this video was shot of Fletcher’s cousin, videoed by London himself).”
There are lots of reasons to be proud of Fletcher for the way that he conducted himself on the field last Sunday, stealing the show and leading the NFC in tackles, despite not starting the game.
But with his good deeds before the game (and the combined efforts of Redskins coaches, players and public relations), two of the finest people in the organization were given the trip of a lifetime.