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Burgundy and Gold Faithful Invade Canton

What a weekend to be a Redskins fan. Two legends are officially enshrined as members of the hallowed Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday. Then the current crop of Washington Redskins kicks off the NFL preseason in the annual Hall of Fame game against the Indianapolis Colts one night later.

August 2nd marked the beginning of what Redskins fans were looking forward to since February. Former cornerback Darrell Green, who spent 20 years in Washington, and former wide receiver Art Monk, the Redskins all-time leading receiver and retired as the NFL’s most prolific pass-catcher, officially became members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Of the enshrines, Darrell Green was the fourth player to speak. Redskins fans got what they were waiting for: to see #28 cement his 20-year career in Canton, Ohio.

One of the most memorable and lighthearted moments of the night was when Green, who was joined by over 100 friends and family members, referenced a friendly remark by current Hall of Famer Deacon Jones.

“Deacon Jones said I would cry. You bet your life I’mma cry. You bet your life I’mma cry. You bet your life I will,” said Green, in regards to how the induction will affect him during his speech.

Green was known for his blazing speed and amazing consistency. He recorded an NFL record 19 consecutive seasons with at least one touchdown.

Monk was the last to speak but that did not deter the mood but only built up the suspension amongst the crowd of seeing a well-deserved class act finally receive what he deserves.

True to form, Monk had very little to say at the beginning of his speech. But that wasn’t his doing. Redskins fans gave him the longest standing ovation of any enshrinee in the Hall’s history with just over four minutes of cheers and applause. During the ovation, separate chants of “Art! Art! Art!” and “It’s about time! It’s about time! It’s about time!” clearly engulfed Fawcett Stadium.

The reception set Monk aback. He quickly became emotional while scanning the crowd with the magnitude of the whole event settling in.

“Standing up here on this platform is much different than I imagined. All that has taken place over the last several months; the reality of getting into the Pro Football Hall of Fame didn’t really hit me until a couple of days ago as there was an overwhelming sense of that this was really gonna happen and even more so, as I stepped up on this stage and just seeing the magnitude of all this and all of you. I appreciate your support,” Monk said.

With Monk’s induction, Redskins fans witnessed the culmination of eight years in the making. Whether or not he was honored in a timely fashion did not downplay the significance of entering the Hall of Fame along with former teammate Darrell Green.

An event of this importance may not be seen again and it is safe to say that, of the announced attendance of 16,654, a minimum of 90% of the crowd consisted of Redskins fans representing the burgundy and gold to the fullest.

Making matters better, the Mayor of Canton, William Healy, Jr., officially proclaimed August 2, 2008, as “Washington Redskins Day.”

To cap off an amazing and unforgettable weekend, the Redskins defeated the Indianapolis Colts 30-16 in the Hall of Fame game Sunday night, making them 5-0 all-time in the annual event. The victory marked a successful start to the Jim Zorn era.

Many starters, including Clinton Portis, Jason Taylor, Laron Landry, Andre Carter, Cornelius Griffin, and London Fletcher, sat out of the game.

That meant it was time for the young guns to shine and several did, namely quarterback Colt Brennan, who was 9-for-10 for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Brennan, who set or tied 31 NCAA records while at the University of Hawaii, put a spark in a Redskins offense which began to sputter midway through the game despite starting off the game with a touchdown in less then two minutes.

Jason Campbell started the game and went 5-for-5 for 61 yards with a 20-yard touchdown to Antwaan Randle El in the first quarter. Overall, the quarterbacks went 19-22 for 216 yards and three touchdowns during the game.

The offense overall played well and the starting skill players seem to have adjusted well to Coach Zorn’s west coast offense.

The Redskins offensive line, however, could use some improvement. Throughout the game, even with all five starters in during the first two drives, the Redskins continuously gave up sacks to the Colts reserve defenders.

Other younger players who shined were rookie safety Chris Horton, running back Marcus Mason, punter Durant Brooks, defensive end Rob Jackson, and safety Matterral Richardson.

Horton, the team’s final selection of the draft, was aggressive and fast, recording two sacks and four tackles on the night. His performance was reminiscent of Gregg Williams’ 2004 defense, which used a lot of safety blitzes.

Brooks, the 2007 Ray Guy award winner for best college punter, gave a solid performance. Brought in to compete with Derrick Frost, Brooks averaged 33.5 yards per punt on four punts. He landed two punts inside the Colts 20-yard line.

The Redskins reserve defensive line also provided a solid pass rush against the Colts. Seventh round pick Rob Jackson recorded one sack, with one taken back because of a penalty.

Mason, who had an impressive 2007 preseason, failed to disappoint against Indianapolis. The second-year back rushed for 98 yards on 18 carries, churning out big yards throughout the game. He also caught the tie-breaking five-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Richardson, an undrafted free agent, sealed the deal with a 38-yard interception return for a touchdown with less than two minutes remaining in the game.

Overall, this was a week to remember for anyone affiliated with the 76-year old franchise. Two all-time franchise greats get inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the team continues its perfect Hall of Fame Game record.

Aside from a Super Bowl victory, what more can a Redskins fan ask for?

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