DC GENERALS POLICE WEEK MEMORIAL GAME FEATURED IN GAZETTE ARTICLE
As the General Manager for the DC Generals, I get the blessed opportunity to work with great guys outside of the DC Fire Department and even outside of the fire department as a whole. Here is an article from the Gazette about the game we put together to honor the fallen police officers from around the DC Metro area for National Police Week. The event was not without its speed bumps, as is often the case with the word “charity”, but the families of the fallen were happy, so we were happy.
Entry from the DC Generals Website:
Wheaton’s Ayala among many honored at game
by Jeremy Arias | Staff Writer
The third quarter was winding down Saturday night in a scoreless tie between the DC Generals and the Atlanta Defenders as Generals quarterback Russell Jackson lined up behind center, his eyes fixed on the end zone not 5 yards away.
A light rain began to fall on the Generals’ home field at George Mason High School in Falls Church, Va., as Jackson took the snap, feinted, and then sprinted for the end zone … straight into the waiting arms of an Atlanta linebacker.
The crowd roared, and a flurry of whistles rang out as the referees scrambled to break apart the mountain of players that had piled on top of the others. A single arm struck through the midst of the chaos; the ball still clutched firmly in Jackson’s hand as the referee signaled for a touchdown.
The Generals went on to win on Jackson’s touchdown, 7-0.
The score could not have come in a bigger game: the annual Police Week Memorial Game, which marks the end of National Police Week â€” May 8 through 15, this year â€” said Generals President Tom Dufek, who also is a Montgomery police detective.
Every year teams from around the National Public Safety Football League send in their requests to play in the memorial game. It’s hosted by the Generals, the home team for police, firefighters and other public safety officials in the D.C. Metropolitan area, including Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.
“Guys that come here want to be able to go down to D.C. to visit the memorial, take part in the festivities and bring their families into town, because it’s a way to honor those who you have lost,” Dufek said of the memorial game. “As far as the league goes, this game is pretty much the pinnacle.”
Everything about the game was designed to honor the police officers whose names were added to the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial in D.C. earlier this week, even down to a pair of stickers placed on the backs of each of the players’ helmets that bore the initials of Montgomery County Police Sgt. Hector I. Ayala and Prince George’s County Cpl. Thomas P. Jensen, both of whom died in car accidents in the line of duty in 2010.
Formed from a rag-tag, seven-man squad on a rainy Saturday in spring of 2006, the Generals entered the league in 2007 and have grown exponentially each year, boasting a roster of about 60 players, Dufek said. Players come from all around Maryland, Virginia and the District, added Vice President Matt Newman, a Maryland State Trooper who plays tight end.
“I’ve made maybe 30 or 40 friends [on the team] who I otherwise would never have met,” Newman said, adding his friendships also have helped him professionally. “I can call them up anytime, for anything, like if we’re looking for somebody I can call someone up in another jurisdiction and say, â€˜Hey, do you know who this guy is?'”
Beyond friendship â€” and of course, the love of the game â€” many players joined the team out of dedication to their fallen comrades, said Jackson, a Prince George’s County police officer who works in the District 3 Palmer Park station.
“We’ve lost a lot of officers since I’ve been on [the force], three that I can remember within [Prince George’s] County, so for me I can’t explain how exciting it is for me to be able to put on this uniform and play just for that reason alone,” Jackson said at the team’s Friday practice.
All of the team’s revenue from ticket sales, money raised from concessions and outside fundraisers goes toward one of two charities: Concerns of Police Survivors and the D.C. Firefighters Burn Foundation, Dufek said. Last year, the team raised $2,500 for each charity, and this year the team hopes to continue raising money past the end of the regular season in June by hosting a youth football camp, Dufek added.
At halftime of the game Saturday, representatives from each area police agency that lost an officer in 2010 received team helmets from Dufek, including Kristelle Jensen, the wife of the late Cpl. Jensen.
“It’s a very huge honor, because I am doing everything possible to keep [my husband’s] memory going, so for them to recognize me and recognize any officer’s family, spouse, children, sisters, bothers, anybody, it’s a huge honor,” she said after presiding over the opening coin toss at Saturday’s game. “My husband was actually going to play on the team. … I’m going to be coming out to all the games from now on.”