ASHBURN, Va. -- Right after practice ended Wednesday, Washington Redskins long-snapper Nick Sundberg sprinted off the field. He paused briefly for an interview with one stipulation: It couldn’t be long. He had a plane to catch to Las Vegas -- and a trip to the Stanley Cup Final for what could be a clinching win Thursday.
Sundberg has attended many Washington Capitals games during his first eight seasons in Washington. He was at Game 4 on Monday when the Capitals took a 3-1 series lead. He’s seen, and felt, the hysteria.
“We had to get there four hours early because we knew so many people would be down there,” he said. “The streets were packed. Everyone was singing and chanting and loving everybody. That’s what I like to see: everybody getting together regardless of where they’re from.”
Sundberg was the only Redskins player flying west. But he’s not the only one caught up in the Caps' postseason run. And the closer they get to winning a title, more Redskins are hopping aboard that bandwagon.
“We’re supporting them as fans, but we see what this is doing for D.C. and bringing out the best in D.C. in terms of sports,” Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said. “We see that and we want it for ourselves.”
Players have tweeted out their support, from running back Derrius Guice to safety D.J. Swearinger. Linebacker Mason Foster was the Capitals Fan of the Game for Game 1 of their opening-round series vs. Columbus; he led chants of “Let’s Go Caps!” Defensive lineman Daron Payne, linebacker Preston Smith and corner Quinton Dunbar attended Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals. Smith wore a red Capitals No. 94 jersey (matching his football number). Josh Norman also attended a game.
Shoutout To The @Capitals It's Our Turn Now!!— DJ Swearinger (@JungleBoi_Swagg) June 5, 2018
Who's going to the parade for the Caps tho 👀 the way they played tonight.. #Electricfying⚡️⚡️— *Joshua R. Norman (@J_No24) June 5, 2018
LETS GO CAPS!!!!— Preston Smith (@PrestonSmith94) May 28, 2018
Kerrigan also attended Game 4. They arrived 30 minutes early; it was nonstop energy.
“That was probably one of the best sporting-event experiences I’ve had,” he said. “From the moment we got there, the crowd was yelling and loud. It was such an energetic atmosphere. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.
“It was bedlam in there. Everyone was high-fiving and hugging. Such an amazing atmosphere and the Caps capitalized on all the energy that was there.”
Kerrigan has played in Washington since 2011, and the Redskins are 0-2 in postseason games since then. He’s never felt what the Capitals have been feeling for a couple weeks. They’re the first Washington team to reach a championship since the Capitals did so in 1998, getting swept by the Detroit Red Wings. No team here has won a title since the Redskins after the 1991 season.
The Redskins are 2-5 in the postseason since 1999, with their last win 12 years ago. They won three Super Bowls from 1981 to 1991, but there hasn’t been much to celebrate in the ensuing years. It’s led to the town embracing the Capitals in a way it hasn't done before, not even during their ’98 Cup run.
“I’ve seen it. It’s pretty crazy,” said Foster, who owns a No. 54 Capitals jersey, also matching his own number. “We’ve got to get something going like that for the Redskins because these fans are amazing. To see them out in the streets watching the game. ... We just got to keep the ball rolling.”
“Being a local guy, it’s no secret we haven’t had the success we wanted as a community in a long time,” Allen said. “It’s special, man. It’s special.
“It gives you that much more motivation to want to go out there and perform your job and execute so we can give Redskins nation a chance to celebrate like that.”
Tight end Vernon Davis grew up in the District, so he, too, feels a strong connection. But he also wants a piece of that success.
“It’s always good to have that energy,” Davis said. “We see it. Whether you’re going to the games or watching on TV, you see the atmosphere and you know what it’s like. You feed off the energy. You’re by yourself and in your mind you’re like, ‘Wow, I’d do anything to get right where those guys are.’”
Kerrigan also debated going to Vegas, but thought twice. The Redskins have a voluntary workout Thursday. But while watching Thursday’s game, he’ll be dreaming of what it could be like if they ever matched this sort of a run.
“You imagine that for you as a player and as a Redskin,” he said. “We can have that if we get that far. That’s our goal, especially seeing what D.C. is doing for the Caps, it makes us even hungrier.”