A Burgundy and Gold Obsession
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A Burgundy and Gold Obsession

Sunday's Smell

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What strange creatures of habit we are.

To wake slowly from slumber, roll from bed, and realize with a quiet excitement – it’s Sunday, and the Redskins will play today – ah…what a glorious feeling it’s always been. There, in the deep recesses of our wakening consciousness, we remember ‘the thought’. That no matter whom they are facing, those beloved, beleaguered, bemoaned, bedeviled burgundy and gold bastards might just pull victory from the jaws of defeat today. The smell of our first cups of coffee wafts through our households on these Sunday mornings, filling the house with the sweet air of ’possibility’.

We used to call them the ‘Sons of Washington’. We like to pretend they still are. But it’s not true anymore. We want it to be true, because it’s what we are, and these men play and fight in our stead. We grew up on the streets of DC, Maryland, Virginia. We shared the same childhoods. We took field trips to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, the Air and Space Museum, raced our brothers and sisters to the top of the Washington Monument, and visited the pandas at the National Zoo. When we grew up, we partied in the bars of DC, Old Town Alexandria, and Georgetown. We went to colleges at College Park, Charlottesville, Blacksburg, and a thousand places in between. But we never lost our way – we always knew we were ‘Sons of Washington’.

Some of us, the lucky ones, got to taste glory. Maybe it’s why we’re still around. An unknown, fallen into our laps from the tree of Don Coryell, flew in from San Diego. That first season, he was Jim Zorn. Clueless, hapless, unassuming – he didn’t look or talk like a football coach. Turned out he was though – one hell of a football coach. We know, because we screamed ourselves giddily senseless cheering his Redskins on to 3 Super Bowl wins in a decade. It was sweet fan nirvana in Washington DC. Other fans hated us with certain passion – a sure sign of our dominance in that era. Sadly, current Redskins fans can’t even take solace in knowing things have been different here. I really feel for them.

Like all beneficiaries of incredible good fortune, those lucky enough to have enjoyed it took it for granted, not believing it would ever end. Not really.

Well Redskins fans. It’s gone.

And suddenly we find ourselves asking… how did the infamously hapless teams of NFL history arrive at their haplessness? Could we be destined for that fate? What magical formula could lead to Dante’s 9 circles of NFL hell? Might we already be on our way there?

I hope not.

I long for those Sunday mornings. I still roll out of bed, bleary-eyed. I still wonder, which team will show up at today’s game, although the answer is less in doubt every Sunday. More and more, I wake with the realization that we probably won’t win. We’ll have flashes of potential, a heart-racing moment or two where we can almost glimpse a last second win. But these Sunday mornings, it feels more like a masturbatory dream than a real hope of consummation - and about as satisfying.

We used to be the good guys. That used to be a part of it. From golly-gee George Allen and his Over the Hill Gang, to the studious professor of football’s fine arts, Joseph Jackson Gibbs, even in defeat, Redskins fans could pride themselves on what our team represented. These days, it’s hard to know what we represent. The players themselves tell us, they don’t know who we are anymore. Our owner? He’s a hard man to love. He’s not misunderstood. He’s just not a very nice guy. We wore Redskins gear to school as kids too Mr. Snyder – but that alone isn’t enough. I want to believe you’re the ultimate fan – but it’d be easier to believe and to support you if you’d stop trying to sell me something every 12.5 seconds.

I don’t believe a return to glory in Washington DC is impossible. But it will require new ownership or a real paradigm shift starting at the top of the current regime. Hire great people. Give control to a football boss who knows how to run a football team (they call them G.M.’s I think?). Make sure none of these folks are your friends. Leave. Them. Alone. Let them do what they know how to do. Plan for the next 20 years, not next year. Make hard decisions and sacrifices today in order to enjoy a promising tomorrow. Set aside your maniacal and cutthroat business acumen. Ditch the Armani suit, sunglasses, celebrity friends, and your famous glare. Uncross your ****ing arms and be nice to people. Mean it. Put on a redskins sweatshirt. Hell, wear it to meetings. Smile. Give honest, sincere interviews. Stop blaming the press for asking legitimate questions about your failing franchise. Stop coveting your fans wallets. Try not to sue season ticket holders. When fans bitch, ask ‘why?’, and respond ‘maybe my customers have a point and we should do something about that’. Watch ‘Heaven Can Wait’ – practice being Warren Beatty at the board meeting.

I don’t think we’ll ever be a great organization or a winning franchise if some of the above doesn’t occur first. Of course football is about football. Even Satan might win a few games now and then (we may have already proven it). But in life, sometimes you get what you deserve. Today’s Redskins are a cutthroat, money-first, leadership by intimidation organization. The bad karma encompassed in those qualities alone could keep us mired in mediocrity for the rest of my days if we’re not careful. Step one in turning the ship around – create an organization that’s first and foremost about creating a positive organization, about quality, that’s about doing the right things even when no one’s looking or writing a story in the Post about it. Figure out what this franchise is about, and start living it. Things will fall into place. Great people will fall over themselves to join you. Good things might happen.

I want that Sunday morning feeling back. I don’t expect my team to win every Sunday. I appreciate how hard it is to win any Sunday. But I want to feel good about my team, the team I pretended to be on as a kid tossing it around in the backyard all those days of my youth, even when it loses.

If things don’t change in the next several years, I think I’ll have to change. I’ll have to find something else to get excited about as I roll out of bed on Sunday. Like a beautiful woman you know is bad for you, but holds you spellbound and helpless, I’ll just have to get in my car and drive away, to somewhere else, anywhere else, because it’s the only way I can get her out of my life.

Redskins fans all feel it – we’re living in a time of diminishing returns where being a fan just sucks the life, money, and enthusiasm out of you. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Lets hope it’s not going to be for much longer.

Updated 09-29-09 at 07:48 PM by Boone

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Comments

  1. Billfishead's Avatar
    What a great piece. Well thought out and written. You have expressed my feelings about our current situation better than I ever could. I only wish I new how to make Dan Snyder understand what it really means to be a "Son of Washington". I can only hope.
  2. Aston Gambino's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Boone
    Figure out what this franchise is about, and start living it. Things will fall into place.
    Sadly, I think Snyder's figured that this franchise is about profitability, and is living it by putting that bottom line ahead of other core values, such as winning.

    Awesome piece, Boone. I've accepted the fact that we're no longer an elite franchise, but if we lose to the Bucs ... oh boy. This will make the Detroit loss seem like the St. Louis win in comparison.

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