Chad Ryan on Sunday sat in a state of awe.
After traveling more than 18,000 miles from his home in Australia, the diehard Washington Redskins fan took his place in the press box amongst the journalists he had only ever messaged online.
He had finally made it to his first game.
“I can’t think of anyone else in the world who would have had their very first Redskins game, [and] instead of going into the stands, [I’m] coming into [the pressbox],” Ryan told The Redskins Blog. “To be sitting amongst them is amazing.”
A long time sports fan, specifically of Aussie rules football, Ryan had an awakening 10 years ago when his cable company started broadcasting the NFL. At first he could only watch primetime games due to Australia’s time difference.
Eventually, he would wake up at 4 a.m. to catch the Redskins play every week, fascinated with his newly acquired favorite sport.
Ryan, however, didn’t want to support a team that recently won a Super Bowl for fear of being a bandwagon fan.
He had visited Washington, D.C. several times while working for the Australian government and fell in love with the city. He wanted a team with history and an active fan base and after watching former tight end Chris Cooley give one of his signature silly press conferences, the Redskins met all of his requirements.
“He had all those crazy hats and characters in his press conferences,” said Ryan of Cooley. “I couldn’t get enough of it.”
He elevated his passion this year. After interacting with many fans over Twitter and forming an online community, Ryan began his own weekly Redskins podcast where he waxes on the most recent games, highlights the news, and breaks down plays, engaging listeners from the D.C./Virginia/Maryland area. After messaging some of the Redskins beat writers, they connected him with the public relations team, who credentialed him for Sunday’s game.
Ryan had already purchased tickets back in the summer, unwilling to put his winter trip in jeopardy. He plans to marry his fiancé next winter in New York, and used the Redskins game as a brief excuse to stray from their vacation dedicated to scouting out wedding locations.
But traveling in the winter during the holidays meant the standard flight from Sydney-to-Los Angeles-to-New York would be too expensive. He had to make a detour through Hong Kong.
The long-journeyed, long-awaited experience, including getting postgame sound from the locker room, was enough for Ryan to consider moving to D.C. someday, maybe even to cover his adopted team.
“I’d love to get a job here and live here,” said Ryan, who cheered with his wife and her brother in the stands during the third quarter. “That’s the goal. Until that can happen, this is the first time I’ve come across here in winter so hopefully I can make it happen again during football time.”
Tags: Australia, Chad Ryan, Chris Cooley, D.C., press box, Sydney, Washington, washington redskins
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