The Redskins Are A Drug, And I'm Not Ready To Quit
Back in early February, I found myself sitting on a friend's couch, cold beer in one hand, small paper plate of chicken wings in the other. I was joined by about 10 or 12 other similarly armed friends, all of us circling around the giant big screen TV, staring with anxious anticipation as we awaited the kickoff to Super Bowl 43.
As I watched what would be the last opening kickoff for the next 7 long months, a less-than-hardcore fan of the sport sitting next to me innocently asked a question that was probably being asked in millions of other Super Bowl party conversations world wide.
"So, who you pulling for? Steelers or the Cards?"
Without giving it much thought, but with genuine honesty, I replied, "I just want to see a good game."
Die hard Steelers and Cardinals fans aside, I bet my answer was a pretty common response that question. After all, as much as I love drinking beer, eating unhealthily, and hanging out with my close friends, my real reason for being there was to get my last fix of NFL action that the football Gods would offer me for quite awhile and, well, I wanted it to last as long as it could. That, and, quite simply, blowouts are boring, whereas nail biters are dramatic and exciting.
Perhaps that's why I'm so hopelessly addicted to watching the Washington Redskins. It seems every game always comes down to the wire, and even the most lopsided game I remembered watching this season (a loss against these damn Steelers) was only a 17 point affair.
A few weeks later I decided to run the numbers to confirm what I instinctively already knew. In 2008, no team provided closer contests on average than the Washington Redskins.
In 2008, an average Redskins game was decided by 7.3 points, the lowest in the league. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a typical game in St. Louis was decided by 17.3. The league average was 12.2.
But when it comes to the fine art of entertainment, providing us fans with nail biting, gray-hair inducing contests is just the beginning of what makes the Redskins so addicting.
Like the movie industry, the Redskins are capable of providing entertainment in many flavors - action, comedy, horror, and of course, drama. Give them 3 hours of a Sunday and they'll give you a mixture of suspense, serenity, hope, fear, disappointment, exhilaration, and illustrate both jaw-dropping brilliance and head-scratching mediocrity. Give them 3 years and you'll see different coaches, schemes, strategies, and quarterbacks. The only constant with this team is sheer unpredictability.
The 2008 season was a perfect microcosm of this unpredictable roller coaster of a universe that us Redskins faithful have come to expect, for better or worse.
It started with a month-long search for a new head coach, the sixth time this has happened since Snyder took over in 1999, ending with us promoting Jim Zorn, our first year offensive coordinator who had held the job for a matter of weeks.
Didn't see that coming.
The draft would follow, and as a fan of a team in desperate need for some help in the passing game, I was thrilled to see us draft not one, but two highly-regarded wide receivers in the second round, as well the best receiving tight end in the draft. Unfortunately, within weeks, that excitement turned to disappointment after hearing the Fred Davis had trouble waking up on time and both Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly showed up to training camp out of shape and unable to fully participate after failing fitness tests.
Elation, meet deflation.
About two hours into training camp, defensive end Phillip Daniels goes down for the year.
Already thin at the position, Snyder wastes no time in finding his replacement, acquiring free agent and former defensive MVP Jason Taylor for a few draft picks by the end of the day.
Preseason came and went, leaving a lot to be desired, though what can you expect from a team replacing a head coach and both coordinators? Still, we stayed relatively healthy and also witnessed the debut of Colt Brennan, who would eventually become the most talked-about third string quarterback in the history of football.
After the forgettable opening night performance in New York, it seemed we were in for a long year. The offense, especially Campbell, looked completely out of sync, the defense looked old, and our new coach looked a bit lost.
Then we come home and look like a team possessed in wins against New Orleans and Arizona, with both Campbell and Portis dominating. After this, we go into Dallas and beat the Cowboys, then follow that with a win at Philly. 4-1, done with our away division schedule, and three cream puffs next on the schedule.
Hip hip hooray!!!
Cream puff #1, the St. Louis Rams, beat us at home. The equally pathetic Browns almost follow suit, though we were able to eek out a win before traveling to Detroit and giving what would eventually be considered the worst team in the history of the NFL one of their most competitive games of the year. Not the best 3 game stretch by any means, but we're still 6-2, a game out of first in the division, with both Portis and Campbell being mentioned in MVP talks.
We're legit contenders, and I'm loving it!
Then came the beat down from Pittsburgh, at home, and on national TV. From there, it all started to go downhill. Not in a fun roller coaster kind of way, but rather in a disappointing, 2-6 kind of way that left us at the bottom of the division, wondering about the future of our coach, our quarterback, and our team.
In the end, it was a season that, in a way, defined us as an organization. Chaotic, inconsistent, filled with extreme highs, devastating lows, and filled with more drama than any wall at Blockbuster.
So far in 2009, it's looking to be more of the same. The drama with Campbell, the acquisition of the the highest paid defensive player in the NFL, and the development of Mike Williams has already made this a hard off season to forget.
Being a Redskins fan is not for the faint of heart. They will excite you with flashes of brilliance in one moment, then break your heart in the next. They will frustrate you, and then thrill you. Make you laugh, then make you cry. They will take you through the entire gamut of human emotion and leave no stone unturned, often leaving you physically and psychologically drained. Some days it'll be a party, others, a train wreck. But at the end of the day, one thing is guaranteed - you will be entertained.
And isn't that what this is all about - entertainment? Is this not why you are here?
My name is Aston Gambino, and I am an addict.