Note: This week's Cheap Seats is being guest written by BossHog for Wingman. Hurricane Ivan hit Wingman and the rest of Pennsylvania hard, and unfortunately, he is still bailing out his basement. Our thoughts and wishes go out to Wingman and his family as they sort through the mess. We look forward to having him back as soon as possible.
In the summer of 2003, theHogs.net was fortunate enough to be invited to Ken Harvey's Football Fan Classic to help with the event. Fans were treated to a great day meeting all the Redskins Alumni in attendance, and it also offered fans a chance to get to meet the Hogettes as well. So I took advantage of the opportunity.
I met Howiette (Howard Churchill) and Mikey T (Michael Torbert) at some point in the day and we got talking. They asked me if I would be willing to help them with a website and I leaped at the opportunity. Why did I leap?
Because the Hogettes are easily amongst the most philanthropic people you will ever meet. Their tireless effort for charity in the Washington area is not only well known, it's come to be expected. For over 20 years, the Hogettes have been showing up at hospitals to bring a smile to children's faces. For over 20 years, the Hogettes have been raising money for kid's charities, in fact this year; they will surpass 100 MILLION dollars raised. For 20 years, opposing fans have been poking fun at them and they have trudged forward regardless. So not only was I willing to help, I was anxious to. I just wanted a chance to give back to a group of guys that personify what being a fan is all about.
Well over the next little while, I put together the Hogettes website, and got to know them better personally. As I was preparing the biographies for the site, it was the first time that I was made aware of just how diverse a group of individuals they are. It was the first time I was made aware of how they were just a group of ordinary guys that were doing extraordinary things. I had a great time putting the site together, and it was a true honor to be bestowed with.
Later in 2004, it was revealed that Howiette would be the 2004 Visa Hall of Fans inductee at the Hall of Fame. Visa now inducts one fan from each team into the Hall of Fame each year. Howie marked the third Hogette to be inducted since 1999, as Mikey T and Spiggy had already been enshrined. Howie asked me if I would like to attend the function, and I told him that I would do everything I could to get my Canadian mug to Canton for the HOF inductions. As luck would have it, it worked out that I could go to Canton on the way home from Redskins training camp and indeed, I would be able to attend Howie's ceremony.
Excited as I was to finally get to meet the entire troop of Hogettes, it paled in comparison to the day that was in store for me. I just wasn't prepared for them. These guys eat, sleep and breathe Redskins football, and it was humbling for a fan such as myself to be in the presence of such fandom. Never once was I made to feel the slightest bit uncomfortable, in fact, despite being in the company of 'strangers', I was made to feel very comfortable indeed... and appreciated for my help in putting out the website.
The day was filled with activities. First there was the morning ceremony to induct all of the worthy recipients. There were 'crazy' fans from all teams represented... each one with their own distinct style but with one common thread... fanatic football fandom. One after one they got up on stage and gave brief speeches about being the fan that they were, and one after one, they humbled me more. If you think you know what being a fan is all about, I assure you I met people on that Monday that re-defined the terms for me. Each speech was a testimonial of their dedication, and each speech had a unique perspective. Rarely do you see so many people speak without boredom setting in.
When the inductions were over, we went outside for some photos in front of the Hall of Fame. You will find pictures of the day in our Galleries but even they will probably not convey the camaraderie and respect that was evident amongst this group. There was no 'our team is better than your team,' or 'we're gonna kick your butts when we play you,' these guys and gals legitimately had mutual admiration for each other. These fans were above the bravado and personified what 'supporting your team' is all about.
After the ceremony, the 9 of the 12 Hogettes in attendance packed up and we went back to a house nearby to allow the Hogettes to 'dress down' and get into civilian clothing before we went out for lunch. It was the first time that I had been around most of these guys when they weren't in 'full drag'. It was fun just to find out what some of them actually looked like. We spent the afternoon eating together, drinking together, and getting ready for that night's game against the Broncos. We sat around and talked about the upcoming year that the Redskins were going to have, and we all learned a little more about each other.
That night, we had the official Hall of Fame tailgating party to go to, and then of course the Redskins / Broncos HOF game. We started making our way to the stadium to tailgate about two and a half-hours before the game, and though we had only two blocks to walk... it took well over an hour. Why?
Because every fan in Canton wanted to stop and have their picture taken with this unique group of individuals. Redskin fans, Bronco fans, Lions fans alike would come up and ask to have their picture taken with the 'infamous' Hogettes. And every one of them got what they were after. Talk about selfless and accommodating... the Hogettes did not deny a single request as we stopped repeatedly for pictures. When we got inside the tailgating party, it was more of the same... everybody wanting a piece of them, and everyone getting one. I have never witnessed anything like it before. And it continued on into the night after the Redskins victory. After the game, there were still more people wanting more pictures. It was relentless to say the least.
I realized just how incredible this group of men and women are. They get nothing for their time, nothing but the satisfaction of doing good things and that is more than enough reward if you were to ask one of them. They pay for everything out of pocket, they volunteer inordinate amounts of time, and they do it all for the burgundy and gold and for the children in need.
The 2004 season saw theHogs.net proudly launch their tailgating club. We're just starting out, but we wanted to give you all the opportunity to meet some of the people that help get this website out there everyday. I made mention of this to the Hogettes, and they asked me if I would like to have the Hogettes at some of the tailgating functions. What, are you kidding me? Well these guys don't kid around when it comes to football and not only were they sincere in their offer, they PROMISED me that they would do their best to get Hogettes to various tailgating functions for our website's patrons. This week, Howiette, DEHog and I were able to make arrangements to make the Monday night game against Dallas, the first of these exciting events.
So we would like to proudly announce that if you come out to this week's tailgating party, not only will you get to meet some of theHogs.net volunteers, but you'll be able to meet some of the Hogettes as well. If you've ever wanted to spend more than a passing moment with these great Redskin fans, then now is your opportunity. Not only that, the Hogettes will be bringing Beth Scott, who is a TEN TIME Olympic Gold medal winner. In fact, she has won SEVENTEEN medals in total and she often brings one of her medals with her so that people can check it out.
So... if you're going to this week's epic Redskins / Cowboys Monday night battle... stop by the Tailgating Club in Red Lot #4. Not only can you have a few refreshments and probably some food too, but you can also meet the Hogettes and maybe even hold a real Olympic gold medal. The Hogettes will also have raffle tickets there for their Joe Gibbs Performance Truck raffle. We will have more information on how you can get involved next week, but you can also find out at the tailgating party if you are in attendance.
And all of this is because the Hogettes legitimately felt that they 'owed' me something.
The Hogettes don't owe anyone anything, but we Redskin fans all owe them at least a thank-you. Why not come out Monday and give them that thanks?