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Some call it 'addition by subtraction’.

I call it refreshing. Whatever you call it, the strategic plan to return the Washington Redskins franchise to respectability, and perhaps beyond, is materializing before our incredulous eyes. And it’s a beautiful sight to behold.

Engaging in something akin to an organizational enema, Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan have raised that liter bag full of warm, sudsy water to the ceiling and let 'err rip. Listen closely Redskins fans. You can almost hear the audible sigh of relief from Ashburn, echo through the Maryland and Virginia suburbs.

Wormer? He’s a dead man! Marmalard? Dead! Niedermeyer? Dead!

Haynesworth? McNabb? Well…you get the idea.

I don’t know if Fat Albert and the former Super Bowl MVP (Man Vomited in Public) were bad guys. I just know they were bad for the Redskins. And their departure signals a couple of important changes at Redskins Park.

We’re going young. It’s a year later than it should have been, but its happening. The Redskins have so many new youthful faces, players are sporting required 'Hi, I’m ______’ nametags at training camp. There haven’t been so many 'yes sirs’ uttered at training camp since George Allen was running the show. Even many of the vets the Redskins are bringing in these days are on the south side of 30. And this new commitment to youth means only one thing. Shanahan and Allen may eschew the 'R word’, but make no mistake about it, this team is engaged in the most dramatic rebuilding effort the franchise has seen in a long, long time.

Attitude matters. Let’s face it, the Burgundy and Gold locker room positivity meter jumped 20 points in just the last 72 hours. Between Haynesworth laying down on the ground and refusing to get up for a couple of seasons and McNabb’s continuous pout-fest, the Redskins have barely been able to muster the energy to actually play football. Granted – when you knowingly bring two established divas to DC and pay them a king’s ransom - you get what you asked for. Still, that the powers that be have concluded enough is enough, regardless of the cost, is impressive. Couple the departure of malcontents #1 and #2 with moving Clinton Portis out to pasture, and ending the Hands of Stone era, and you’ve magically discovered the recipe for a decidedly calmer, more focused, and stable roster. Save the drama for your mama…indeed.

Effort and discipline trump raw talent. Really? Every football coach, from Pop Warner to NFL, pays lip service to that mantra. And for good reason, since as much as anyone who’s ever watched 'Rudy’ 20 or 30 times on TNT can attest, it feels good to believe it. But sometimes, it’s just a damn lie. You have to modify that outdated, corny old idea just a little to get to the point. Effort and discipline and good talent working together trump superior raw talent with ego and selfishness. I believe that. And by the Power of Greystoke, I think the guys leading our beloved Redskins finally believe it too.

I’ll confess something. Even if this ragtag bunch of anonymous no-names (let’s call them 'The Under-the-Hill Gang’) can’t beat the better and more talented NFL teams in the next couple of years, I’ll relish that we’re trying hard, doing the right things to build a winner the right way, and take my fan lumps with a smile on my face – something I haven’t been able to muster in years.

And so it begins. A new era, not just a season-opening email marketing slogan, but the real thing dawns for our Redskins and each of us as fans. When our glorious Redskins rush out onto FedEx Field a short month or so from now to do pre-season battle, I’ll be there to cheer what’s his name, you know…that guy, the new kid, the others we just picked up, and whatchamacallit with as much enthusiasm as I’ve had in years.

Addition by subtraction. It’s starting to add up for me – and I think it equals….hope?
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