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A Thousand Cuts

Labor Day Weekend. The traditional end of summer, never mind that many of us will have summer heat and humidity for another 6 weeks. The traditional beginning of school, never mind that some kids have nearly 4 weeks in classrooms by now. The traditional marker for the beginning of football season, never mind that the pros don't kickoff for another week or that training camp has been going for 2 months.

Growing up I lived for this weekend from January on. There was just something missing for those 8 months and that something was Redskin football. Weekends weren't really weekends without it.

But Labor Day Weekend felt more like part of football season than any other non-football weekend going. Suddenly there was something to look forward to in just a week's time. The roar of the crowd, the crash of shoulder pads, the rush of adrenaline when the team did something exciting. It was close enough to touch.

But that was then.

This year there is no excitement, almost no anticipation and very little concern.

Honestly, for the first time in my life I understand how Scrooge felt about Christmas. I'm very “ba humbug.”

Somewhere along the lines my beloved Skins and the NFL in general have broken something that I have so far been unable to fix. Like a devout priest who has faced a crisis of faith and found himself lacking, I am short on belief.

Consider, for the first time in my life I watched not a single minute of pre-season football. And I don't mean just Redskins football…I mean ANY football.

I can't tell you the last time I turned on a sports news show to catch the latest on the NFL or the Skins. I'm not reading news stories from training camp online. I can't tell you which rookies were hits and which were disappointments. I don't know the jersey numbers for the new guys and I can't tell you who is projected to start.

Hell, I don't even know who this season's BGO man-crush is. How bad is that?

I am blissfully unaware of who the big-name surprise cuts across the league have been or if any of them might get a call from Ashburn to help bolster a weak position. I don't even know what those weak positions might be.

Somewhere, somehow, the players, the league and my team have stolen my joy for this great game.

Oh, it wasn't intentional on their part and it wasn't done by any one decisive action. No, this was the legendary “death of a thousand cuts”.

To give you an idea of what I mean here is a quick list of some of those cuts. It is by no means exhaustive.

Excessive player celebrations for mundane plays, ridiculous rules about celebrating exciting big plays, piss poor officiating, stupid amounts of money being spent on average players, coaches who outsmart themselves with fancy playcalling, rising ticket prices in an industry where profits are already amazing…

Just to name a few.

To bring it closer to home, the Skins themselves have played a huge role in where I am. The inability of Dan Snyder to build a functional organization in the nearly 2 decades he has owned the team tears at my heart and leaves me wondering how anyone could still root for the Jets or the Lions or the Browns.

We over pay for the wrong guy but try to sign the right guy on the cheap. We have an environment where getting the right guy to sign a fair deal is hard. We have been the last stop on the gravy train for over the hill players looking for that last big score and we have been the league's punch line for bad jokes.

I keep hearing that all this is changing. There is a new atmosphere in Ashburn. The Redskins are different now.

For me, different means seeing a different result on the field. It means winning, not losing or moral victories. It means dominating a football game while showing some class. It means never giving the other team a chance or a hope. It's the other team knowing what we are going to do and knowing they can't stop it.

As I read back over what I have written here it feels disjointed and perhaps unorganized. Not my usual writing at all. Honestly, kinda like my football team.

I don't want to give any of you the wrong idea. Skins games are still on my calendar and I will still be watching every Sunday right along with the rest of you (and I'll be in chat most of the time). I will still wear my burgundy and gold colors and will still support my team.

But at the same time, I have to admit it's harder now. Dan Snyder and Roger Goodell need to know that I'm bleeding out. No clue how many cuts I've suffered but it has be approaching a thousand.

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