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Geographically Challenged

Oh how I pine for the Northern Virginia suburbs of my youth! A 7-11 on every corner, a wealth of entertainment options 30 minutes away in every direction, and most of all, non-stop access to all-things-Redskins all of the time – these are the trappings of Redskins fan nirvana.

It’s a beautiful thing to be an NFL fan, but to live on the outskirts of the city the NFL team you live and die for calls home? El Dorado.

So where does that leave the rest of us, the huddled masses, the wretched refuse, the homeless, and tempest-tost, the 'geographically challenged’? Like mice in a mansion, we scramble for gourmet crumbs to feed our never-ending Redskins obsession.

North Carolina, where I call home, used to be Washington Redskins country. When I moved here in 1993, if you saw an NFL-related cap, banner, or bumper sticker, chances are it was burgundy and gold. There was little need to worry about missing a game as, invariably, it was the Redskins the local TV affiliates deemed most appropriate to carry. North Carolina might as well have been a more distant DC suburb. Just as they’d done in 1861, North Carolinians followed the lead of their Virginia cousins, but instead of rallying beneath a Confederate flag, it was Redskins colors they swore a blood oath to defend.

But times change, and when the Carolina Panthers joined the NFL as an expansion club in 1995, the 'good old days’ here in the Tarheel State were officially over. Truth be told, there are still nearly as many rabid Redskins fans in North Carolina as Panther supporters. But as far as the print media, TV, and radio are concerned, the Panthers are the only team in town. In 1995, I joined the ranks of distant NFL fans everywhere, wondering when, where, and how I was going to get my desperately needed Redskins fix.

You D.C. fans are a spoiled lot. You’ve been immersed in a warm, wonderful bath of Redskins-richness for so long, you hardly notice how luxuriant and soothing it is. Turn on the TV – Redskins. Flip the radio dial – Redskins. Walk into the barbershop or peruse the local paper – Redskins. Access to the team you love is everywhere, even in the dreaded offseason, yet you hardly seem to notice. I know – we shouldn’t hate you because you’re beautiful - but your distant cousins, fellow Redskins fans scattered across 50 states and around the planet regard you with jealousy and more than a little envy.

Fortunately, we have no time to hate those of you living in Redskins fan heaven. You may be a sickeningly rich brother, but you’re our sickeningly rich brother. Like crack addicts we’re focused with laser intensity on only one thing – where and how we’ll catch those can’t-miss upcoming games. Sunday’s home clash with Indy? Hallelujah – it’s the Sunday night nationally televised game. Check. But the following week against the Bears is a crap-shoot. Quickly referencing network coverage maps, we peruse our mental checklist, review options, and set our strategy. Friends with NFL Ticket? Pirated web feed? Internet radio stream? Play by play summary on the web? Sports bar? Somehow, someway, we will satisfy our prime imperative.


To read the rest of 'Geographically Challenged', click HERE to get your free subscription to Hail! magazine.
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