Redskins fans 'All In,' accept Hall's challenge

Redskins fans 'All In,' accept Hall's challenge

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Darrell Green, Art Monk, John Riggins and Russ Grimm competed on the field. Joe Gibbs ruled the sidelines. Bobby Beathard directed the front office.

Each man played a key role in the Washington Redskins’ resurgence. In time, each would become a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“As a kid in the 1980s and 1990s, there was nothing better,” than growing up in the shadow of RFK Stadium and rooting for the hometown team, said Pete Sisitsky. “I grew up cheering on the ‘Hogs,’ the ‘Fun Bunch’ and the ‘Posse’ and reveling in the hometown pride of three Super Bowl championships.”

Describing himself as a “diehard Redskins fan my entire life,” Sisitsky said his favorite players were Monk and Green.

“I would love to meet them in Canton.”

Sometime this summer or next, he might get that opportunity.

Sisitsky was the winning bidder for a special Pro Football Hall of Fame fan package in the recent “ALL IN Challenge” auction through Fanatics.com. The prize includes tickets to Enshrinement Week Powered by Johnson Controls events with special “VIP experience” access.

“I’d just want the chance to thank [Monk and Green], not only for the joy and excitement they brought to my youth, but also for the straight class with which they played the game and the extraordinary impact they had on our community off the field. Our city loved them as players, but even more so as people.”

The Redskins made a similar impact on another youngster about the same time.

As a teenager in the early 1980s, Mitch Gevinson sold souvenirs at RFK. A friend of his father’s held the contract, “so he allowed me to be part of a stand, plus walk the stands.”

Gevinson vividly recalls those Sundays and a special ritual leading up to game days.

“We’d put little helmets on the mantle at our home – the Redskins and their opponent that week,” he said. “We lived it every Sunday.”

Gevinson was runner-up in the ALL IN Challenge bidding for the Hall of Fame package – and a couple of other auction items through Fanatics. As a frustrated multiple “bridesmaid,” he reached out to Fanatics and inquired whether any of the sponsors would be willing to offer a second prize if he matched the high bid.

David Baker, president and CEO of the Hall, said yes.

“It’s exciting that we ended up with two bidders matching the top bid,” Baker said. “We thank Peter and Mitch for stepping up to help the COVID-19 relief fund and meeting this challenge.”

“We’re going to show them a great time at ‘The Most Inspiring Place of Earth!’”

Seeing Baker in action was one of Sisitsky’s motivations for bidding on the Hall’s package in the first place.

“I have participated in a couple of sweepstakes and bid on a few auction items, but nothing was as remarkable to me as David Baker's Pro Football HOF Weekend Experience,” he said. “First, I am very excited to get to spend time with David Baker himself. I have watched many videos of him notifying inductees of their election into the Hall and was particularly choked up when he surprised Jimmy Johnson and Bill Cowher on air.

“He always does it with such joy and style, and it really helps us fans appreciate just how special the honor is to those who receive it. I just thought it would be a wonderful experience to meet him. I also can’t believe that I will have the opportunity to meet and interact with so many heroes of the game that I have looked up to and admired for so many years.”

An additional plus for Sisitsky: the lasting impression he expects the trip to Canton to make on his 8-year-old son, who will join him on the adventure.

“My youngest son, Cole … wants to play in the NFL when he grows up. I know the long odds against that, but I think the experience of spending time around these men who put in so much hard work to live their dreams and achieve greatness will provide inspiration throughout Cole’s life no matter where his path takes him,” Sisitsky said.

Neither he nor Gevinson has visited the Hall previously, and both are leaning toward the option of deferring the redemption of their prizes until next summer.

While the significance of the Centennial Class of 2020 cannot be replicated, the chance to see Peyton Manning and Charles Woodson elected in their first year of eligibility brings a special alure for Gevinson.

For Sisitsky, “This once-in-a-lifetime experience will be truly unique for me and for my son. … I am leaning toward 2021, as my son will be a year older, and the weekend will be that much more meaningful and memorable for him.”

The combined $42,000 the men paid for their prizes will provide tens of thousands of meals through the hunger relief agencies serving as Fanatics’ partners in the Challenge. As of Thursday, more than $45 million had been raised overall.

“I stumbled upon the ALL IN Challenge while researching online for ways to help people who are suffering from the devasting impact of COVID and the resulting lockdowns,” Sisitsky said. “When I read about the ALL IN Challenge’s mission and the organizations it was supporting to battle food insecurity in these unprecedented times, I too was ‘all in.’”

The Pro Football Hall of Fame, along with Sisitsky and Gevinson – two lifelong Redskins fans who might cross paths in Canton – are “all in” together.

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