I usually spend Wednesdays at Redskin Park. I was up there all day today; perhaps you've heard why.
It was long, difficult and incredibly depressing.
By the time I arrived, well before noon, the number of media in attendance was double what it usually is. By the time I left around 4:30, it was probably triple. Instead of two reporters, the Washington Post had three reporters and two columnists. Instead of one reporter and one camera person, WRC had three reporters and who knows how many camera people. At one point, I stood in the foyer just inside the main entrance and counted 30 or so people.
Of the 30, I had seen six before in my life.
The media room was packed, such that moving around was difficult. People from Baltimore, Philly, ESPN, and network correspondents showed up.
Obviously, that's the least of anyone's worries. I mention that first because that's how the majority of the day was spent: standing around and waiting.
The Redskins' PR staff did what they could for us; this shouldn't be taken as a dig at them at all. But the simple fact of it was that not many of the players wanted to talk - a situation all of us can understand. Outside of the last press conference of the day with head coach Joe Gibbs and owner Daniel Snyder, we had little warning on when players would speak.
When they did speak, it was a slap back to reality of why all those people were there in the first place.
Reed Doughty, the safety who filled in while Sean Taylor recovered from a knee injury, broke down in tears moments before I arrived. Quarterback Jason Campbell did likewise, bowing his head and wiping away a tear. Guard Pete Kendall, an open and frank sort, spoke in hushed tones about how Taylor was one of the first people to greet him after his training-camp trade from the New York Jets.
It was hard to see this from them.
Six days ago, Campbell smiled a bit when I asked him about the Iron Bowl. Earlier in the season, after a win at home, I just happened to walk next to him when leaving the stadium. At FedEx Field, a tunnel leads from the bowels of the stadium to the players' parking lot; fans gather around the mouth of the tunnel to catch a glimpse of their favorite players.
We walked and I said, "So, when we get out of here, are all those people going to be cheering for you, or are they going to be cheering for me?"
He chuckled and said maybe I had some fans too. I slowed down to let him pass and he turned around to say something else with a wide smile on his face. I couldn't really hear him though - by then, the fans had recognized him and all started yelling, "Jason! Jason!"
It's hard to see good people be in so much pain.
I'll let the greater meaning of Taylor's death to people smarter than me.
I only know what I saw: the fallout of it all.
It was not a fun day to be at Redskin Park.