My dearly departed Mom was a classy southern Lady with a capital 'L’. She allowed neither profanity nor expletives of any sort to pass across her Kentucky born and bred lips. Faced with a particularly infuriating or exasperating challenge, she might offer up one of only two verbal outbursts she saved for those special life moments.
Or when that just wasn’t good enough, 'Hell’s Bells!’
Well, Hell’s Bells Redskins fans!
It’s week 3 of the 2013 NFL season and our Burgundy and Gold have floundered their way to a cellar dwelling 0-2 record. Redskins fans have been cast down into Purgatory once again. Welcome back Kotter. Doubt, fear, anger, hell, outright panic in some circles - these are the emotions of the moment. We thought we were Vinnie Barbarino, but turns out we may be Arnold Horshack after all. I’ve long forgotten whatever I once knew about Dante’s 7 circles of Hell, but I’m pretty sure one of them must involve being a Redskins fan.
This was supposed to be the year we began our ascent into NFL Heaven. Rising inexorably upward, harps resounding with the uplifting refrain of 'Hail to the Redskins’, the Skins were destined to again take their rightful place amongst the NFL Gods. But dreams like ours are ethereal, held aloft on wings of wax that never seem to hold up under the intense heat of the regular season sun. Icarus – you should have known better.
50 first half points and 2 epic beat downs later, Redskins fans have forgotten all about Heaven. They’re just wondering how in the world they landed back in Hell’s cow pasture, up to their knees in despair and you know what.
The last couple of weeks have brought to mind an old Sam Kinison bit.
I buy it every time. I swear I do. I love women. I can’t help it. I’d buy it every time love comes knocking on my door and goes 'C’mon, C’mon, Yes, this is love. Yeah, c’mon, trust me, this is love. I know you’ve been in love before – but THIS IS LOVE. I wouldn’t lie to you 10 times in a row, would I? C’mon, C’mon, open the door, let’s see what we have for you…’ … creeeeeeeeak…. (Satanic screams and sounds of car crash ensue) OH! OH! OH! Love lied to me again!!!
Love lied to us again.
Or so it seems anyway.
But not all fan heads are spinning Linda Blair-style. Calmer, more reasoned voices remind us, the 2012 Redskins sputtered to a 3-6 record before waking up and catching fire. Griffin will work off the rust and return to previous form. Alfred Morris will muster up his characteristic grit and determination and again become a force to be reckoned with on the ground. Our Junior Miss secondary will continue 'on the job’ training and improve as the season progresses. Embattled Jim Haslett will find a way to paste together an effective defense with duct tape and popsicle sticks. 'Cobra Kai’ Forbath will heal up and sweep the leg once more, giving us a deadly close game advantage. Our Redskins are no longer lead by Norv 'What we do works’ Turner, Steve 'Danny Wuerffel is my QB’ Spurrier, or Jim 'Slip-N-Slide’ Zorn. Mike and Kyle Shanahan have faced challenges before, and quieted all the naysayers and doomsdayers. The NFC East is still, even after all the angst of this fledgling season, up for grabs. Things. Will. Get. Better.
I find myself stuck somewhere right in the middle of the pack. Intellectually, I know my calm, rational peers (all 3 of them) are exactly right. But emotionally, I can’t help but feel the butterflies and old, familiar fears rising, along with the bile, in my gut. Hell’s Bells! Gussy Goo!
Stick with RG3. Start Cousins. Protect Griffin. Unleash Griffin. Fire Haslett. Promote Morris. Run the read option. Avoid the read option. Be more aggressive. Be more disciplined. Change course. Stay the course. Redskins fans, we’re all over the map on the possible solutions to our current woes. An NFL insider once told me and some friends 'The fans don’t know. They think they do. But they don’t.’ One NFL team executive put it more diplomatically. 'If I do what the fans want, pretty soon, I’ll be sitting with them’. The truth is, without being in that Redskins locker room, without knowing the real[/] status of Robert Griffin’s knee, without being privy to every player/coach conversation, without seeing every practice, and knowing the true dynamics between this coaching staff and this young team, how can any of us really know how worried we should be, or how to get the Redskins back on track?
I think, at some point, you just have to close your eyes, grit your teeth, put on your big boy pants, and persevere. Ride the rollercoaster. Dance with the date you brung. And hope for the best.
Or, as Winston Churchill once said 'If you’re going through Hell, keep going’
Hell’s Bells, indeed.