The men dress in a high school locker room that is foreign to them but at the same time familiar - with small benches, small lockers, no names and no numbers - the very sort of lockers they used when they were stars at their own high schools.
Some players have their injuries taped by coaches, each other or themselves, and some bring their own tools to repair their helmets and other football gear. Scratchy music from a portable tape player plays in the background, and the room reeks of ointment and sweat.
Outside, two maintenance workers line the field at Theodore Roosevelt High School in the District, getting it ready for play.
One elderly man walking around the track at the school asks, "Are they going to play a game here tonight?"
Damn right they are. Washington Chiefs football - providing, of course, the other team shows up, which is just one of the hazards of minor-league football.
In August, Chiefs owner Richard Myles had a game lined up for his team at Richard Montgomery High School in Montgomery County and the opponent showed up several hours late, too late to play.
"I had the Montgomery County executive there for this game," Myles said, "a color guard, all these Montgomery County dignitaries supporting me, and the [other] team's bus broke down. I had to give all the money back. That's how it is sometimes in minor-league football."
On this night, the Durham Bulls do show up, though not in a team bus. The players drive the six hours from North Carolina in their own cars. So tonight, Myles won't have to give any money back. With about 100 people in the stands, there wouldn't be much to return anyway. Again, that's just how it is sometimes in …