With his return to DC this weekend, Alex Ovechkin is back in Washington just in time for the start of another sport’s season: American football. He spoke on his growing love of the game in a recent interview with Artem Batrak and Alexei Shevchenko of the Russian outlet It’s Hockey, Bro!, explaining how he developed into a fan.
In the interview, later transcribed by Sports.ru, Ovechkin explains how he wasn’t familiar with either football or baseball until starting his NHL career in Washington. He’s become a big fan of the Washington Commanders, but admitted he still doesn’t care much for American’s National Pastime.
“When I first came [to DC], I did not understand what baseball, American football is,” Ovechkin said, as translated by Google Translate. ”It took me five to six years to understand at least some rules. And now I really love going to games, I love watching matches. It’s really exciting. They are just machines. They run very fast.”
He added, “I especially love it when we come with a big group before the start of the game kebabs, burgers. They love to do it all.”
It makes sense that Ovechkin — known for his physical play as well as his scoring prowess — would be drawn to another hard-hitting sport. Much of the season overlaps with a busy hockey schedule, but Ovechkin and his family are regular attendees of the Washington Commanders’ home openers, turning up at FedEx Field every non-COVID year since 2017.
Ovechkin was even the team’s honorary captain in 2018, taking the field in a jersey boasting his signature no. 8.
The exuberant stadium atmosphere, Ovechkin noted, is part of the draw.
“Firstly, everyone screams, everyone gets sick all the energy,” he said. ”You charge yourself, it’s cool.”
He contrasted that intensity with baseball, a relatively slower sport.
“Baseball is completely different,” he explained. ”So many people come just… The ticket is five dollars. I came with my family, you can sleep. Fell asleep, woke up only as the second inning goes on.
“I don’t particularly like going to baseball games because, firstly, it’s boring, and, secondly, it takes a long time,” he added.
Though he might not be a big fan of the sport itself, Ovechkin has long been a supporter of the Washington Nationals. He’s become longtime friends with Ryan Zimmerman, who played 16 seasons with the Nationals before announcing his retirement in 2022. Shortly after the Capitals’ season ended, Ovechkin and former teammate Jakub Vrana watched batting practice from the field while attending a game in Nats Park.
And look who else is here with Ovi!
Stanley Cup winner Jakub Vrana…he is loved here in Washington! pic.twitter.com/Yoap8LFGTg
— Scott Abraham (@Scott7news) April 18, 2023
Perhaps most memorably, Ovechkin threw the ceremonial first pitch for the Nationals two days after winning the Stanley Cup in 2018. That game kicked off an iconic day of celebrations that culminated with the team’s legendary swim in a Georgetown fountain. The Capitals would later return the favor and host the 2019 World Series champion Nationals at Capital One Arena a year later.
A day at the ballpark may not outrank football, but Ovechkin isn’t entirely averse to a baseball game. And for us, that’s enough.
RMNB is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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