Burgundy and gold blurs dart around a field, making impossible grabs, performing athletic feats that goofy, long-limbed men like I can only dream of. X's and O's come to life, moving in a controlled, barrel-chested chaos of drills and playbook trickery that look like a map to the New York City subway system.
I'm a devoted Cowboys fan, but it's pretty intoxicating to watch and be close to any NFL team, including the Deadskins.
The boys of Landover, Md., have taken over the hearts and minds of the city. Welcome to Washington Redskins training camp.
Celebrity gawkers, everyone with a camera phone on Twitter, and strangely enough, The Richmond Times-Dispatch, have documented every player's known whereabouts at every waking and many nonwaking moment (which will come in handy when the police need to round up suspects). I imagine that player sightings, after-hours groin pulls and scores of unwitting new single mothers will have tripled by the time this column goes to press.
More important, people who just love the National Football League — America's favorite sport by far, sorry baseball — have flocked to the shining complex behind the Science Museum of Virginia to catch some of world's best athletes shake off the rust and possibly get an autograph (see YouTube, "Redskins Fan Crying for Not Getting Autograph"). Local businesses have seen a real uptick. And everyone with any sort of sounding board has been waxing philosophical on the training camp's obvious benefits to RVA, including me.
The economy, the recognition, the press — all of it's been great. It's a move that pushes Richmond even closer to tier-one status. The mayor was right, dammit!
Also, after the ultimately disappointing young quarterbacks leave town, we're left with a pristine, $10 million facility that, in addition to being a Bon Secours-led sports medicine and health center, will be used for youth sports, tournaments and other revenue-generating events. The Richmond Public Schools also gain some access, which, if you've seen some of their fields and athletic equipment, is a godsend to inner-city youth.
Boosterism aside, there will be drawbacks and naysayers. The fast-tracked facility is impressive, but took a back seat to nothing on its road to completion. The money, the permits, the land, the complicated logistics for this type of project — no problem, we got this.
The full-on push raises eyebrows because the city has other issues. Real, pressing issues.
Poverty, crime and potholes. Underpaid cops, teachers and other important yet always overlooked municipal positions. Dinosaur-plodding, unreported-gift-receiving, red-tape-slingin' bureaucrats. An unjust Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control that's finally getting the attention it deserves for its longtime lack of accountability. And a certain baseball stadium fiasco. To name a few.
Look, I'm not here to save the world, but trading corporate naming rights for straight cash money seemed to be the spur that got the horse galloping for the Redskins. So as usual, I will selflessly share my revenue-generating ideas. Here are some of my usually brilliant suggestions to bring in more money for Richmond in that same vein.
For Shockoe Bottom: the Berkshire Hathaway Times-Dispatch Flying Squirrels Athletic Complex.
For Capitol Square: the Star Scientific Presents Virginia Executive Mansion, a Jonnie Williams Joint.
For the Devil's Triangle: Welcome to the Flavor Triangle, Presented by Altria.
For Downtown: The McKesson MCV/VCU Jarvis Jenkins "Accidentally Ingested" Performance-Enhancing Drugs Studies Building.
For the South Side: The We Only Want to Know What's in Your Wallet Capital One Richmond Outreach Center.
The Redskins training camp will continue to be a major boon for the city. It's exciting, it's new, it's the defending NFC East champions (and one of the most valuable sport franchises in the world) choosing our little city as its base of operations for three weeks. I admit, even this Cowboys fan has felt the excitement. I've caught the smallpox-infested, Redskins blanket fever.
So hopefully I can score a few autographs, some twit-pic opportunities, and if I'm lucky, a grossly inflated, biweekly, NFL-salary-backed child support payment before they leave town.
The key there is to choose the younger players who don't know any better. This isn't respected linebacker London Fletcher's first rodeo, so he isn't worth your time. Robert Griffin III? Young but too popular. That guy is constantly getting holes poked in his condoms. No, you want to go with someone like first-year safety Bacarri Rambo. Plus, he went to the University of Georgia, so how smart can he be? That 23-year-old right there is a cash cow in the making.
Ladies, go forth.
P.S. Go Cowboys.
Connect with Richmond bartender Jack Lauterback at firstname.lastname@example.org. Lauterback also is co-host of 103.7-FM's "River Mornings with Melissa and Jack," weekdays from 6-9 a.m. On Twitter @jackgoesforth.