The woman to the left of DeAngelo Hall in this picture is one Jeanne O’Neill, a 91 year-old woman who has been a Redskins fan since 1947. An email she sent to the Redskins came to the attention of the Community Relations department, who arranged for Ms. O’Neill to have a VIP visit to Redskins Park today.
She watched practice, got a chance to talk to owner Daniel M. Snyder, general manager Bruce Allen, and an assortment of players including Hall, Santana Moss, and Chris Cooley.
“I just told him how much I love the Redskins,” O’Neill said, asked what she had told Snyder. “He’s just a sweet man; it’s not what I expected. I expected him to be a business tycoon, but he’s just a wonderful human being.”
Cooley asked if she had offered him any suggestions on handling the ongoing Albert Haynesworth thing, but she demurred. “It’s just a sad situation,” she said, “I can’t even think about it.” (“We don’t!” Cooley said, cheerily.)
O’Neill was floored by the day, calling it (at various times) incredible, wonderful, tremendous, and unbelievable, among other words. But from a certain perspective she’s absolutely earned a day like this. Sure, she’s gotten to see three Super Bowl wins, but also two Super Bowl losses. Joe Theismann’s leg was broken directly in front of her seat at RFK 25 years ago. And, just by watching the Redskins since 1947, she’s had to endure 462 losses not counting preseason. Sure, she’s also gotten to see 465 wins, but still — I know how it feels to watch your team lose, and 462 of those kind of days seems like a bit much.
Still, even after being overwhelmed by the players, the owner, the GM, the whole experience, there was one person Ms. O’Neill told me that she really wanted to single out for thanks: her usher at FedExField. “His name is Phillip Lewis,” she said. “He’s wonderful, and he takes care of me. I get a hug every time he sees me. He’s so thorough, he’s so professional and he won’t allow any horsing around, no drunkenness. And that’s a marvelous area, because I’m right behind Sonny & Sam.”
Asked to summarize her day, O’Neill said, simply, “This is a tremendous experience. I just wish every fan could have it.”
Tags: jeanne oneill, training camp 2010
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