My dad was the best armchair quarterback who ever lived. As a kid, I was sure they could hear him on the sidelines as he barked orders at the television, bellowing keen analysis at the top of his lungs from the Lazy Boy. Sonny Jurgensen and George Allen took the brunt of the verbal lashing but there was love behind every word.
You see, the Redskins have been vexing from Day 1.
We fans are a weary tribe indeed. We’ve praised the Hogs. We’ve made Snyder voodoo dolls. We’ve purchased the RGIII jersey and bought into the hype. We’ve reminisced about our Super Bowl win back in the day. We’ve seen the revolving door of coaches spit out the well-intended like a watery wad of chew. We’ve memorialized the lumbering frame of Riggins on our basement walls, in the hopes of resurgence. We’ve prayed. We’ve pounded our fists. We’ve vowed to quit to no avail.
Because this franchise stole our hearts decades ago and we never quite got them back again.
Over the years we stood by—desolate—as they broke those hearts into Humpty Dumpty-sized pieces that a king’s ransom in free agency couldn’t put back together again.
Football love is tough love, people.
Back before concussion protocol or throwing flags for play review, this team was good. Gritty and good. We weren’t flashy like Namath or a well-oiled machine like Montana and Rice but we got the job done. Dallas always had our number, but each time we took the field there was hope.
Recently, though, we had gone from hopeful to hopeless one agonizing loss at a time. Tickets hit bargain basement prices. RGIII jerseys hit the clearance racks. I heard my despair echoed in Jurgensen’s beleaguered voice on the radio play-by-play each week. We were suddenly the Chicago Cubs of the NFL, forever cursed and chasing that elusive trophy.
The Burgundy and Gold army was shrouded in black to match the dark cloud that had descended over our team. But a funny thing happened on the way down—Kirk Cousins showed up. This was a new team that looked a lot like the teams of yesteryear. With no superstar, franchise player in sight we went back to the basics of teamwork and tenacity. Behind Cousins, we strung together a series of ugly wins to land atop the division.
Throwing caution to the wind, we lifelong devotees fell in love all over again. We swooned as Cousins executed the biggest comeback in franchise history over the Buccaneers. We blushed with pride when we knocked out Philly at home to end their season.
Reunited, and it feels so good.
Our hero even had a catch phrase and was the darling of Sports Center. The analysts all agreed, Washington could beat Green Bay in the first round of the playoffs. As a result, ticket prices soared as those Redskins became an expensive date but so, so worth it.
The bloom officially came off the rose during the second half. Green Bay stepped up their defense as ours virtually disappeared. Our short, second honeymoon crashed and burned before our very eyes, complete with the horror of instant replay to add insult to injury.
Like all jilted lovers, I sat in disbelief when I realized it was over. Had the last two months of pure devotion meant nothing to these Skins?
I will make promises to myself over the next seven months, vowing to keep a healthy distance. But, who am I kidding? The Redskins will always be my first love.
How can you not like that?