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Rated 'R'


Not since the days of the Black Death, Smallpox, and Cholera has a word struck such fear into the hearts of man. Or at least the hearts of football fans. That innocuous word symbolizes pain, suffering, and misery of the protracted variety, and merciless ridicule at the hands of opposing fans. To embrace it means loosening our psychic death grip on mediocrity in return for the promise of something better. Rebuilding is the dark empty void of the unknown, the chasm, the abyss.

Frankly, it scares the hell out of us.

It must connote a frightening visage for the Washington Redskins front office and owner as well, given their reluctance to even utter the word. Several weeks ago, after the team’s latest loss and elimination from playoff contention, Mike Shanahan looked a throng of skeptical D.C. media types square in the face, and denied the Redskins were doing any such thing.

'I’m not sure rebuilding is the right word’ proclaimed Shanahan.

You have to give this new regime credit – they are nothing if not unswerving and resolute. In retrospect it’s clear that the pre-season marketing pitch accompanying this new Redskins era, 'The Future is Now!’ wasn’t just rhetoric designed to squelch the wrath of the embittered and unruly masses. Shanahan and Allen may well have believed it. It may be the only thing that explains their curious and enthusiastic acquisition of former Pro Bowl quarterback Donovan Mcnabb.

The off-season addition of Mcnabb signaled a dubious degree of misplaced confidence in the talent level of a team even fans themselves viewed as marginal at best. Likewise, the summary dismissal of Mcnabb as starter suggests Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen have seen the light. And it’s revealed a team that, plain and simple, just isn’t very good. Forget Albert Haynesworth. Forget getting swindled by the Eagles. Forget Jim Haslett’s 3-4 defensive struggles. Overestimating the talent level of this Redskins roster is the only major sin Shanahan has yet committed. But he’s compounded that sin considerably by his stubborn refusal to accept what most fans already knew, or to do what most fans already knew needed to be done.

Oddly enough, when the proverbial pink elephant wanders into the room, most folks simply want someone to acknowledge 'hey – there’s a pink elephant in the room!’ And that’s exactly the sentiment of the vast majority of fans. The Washington Redskins need rebuilding from the trenches on up.

Redskins fans know it, Bob Dole knows it, the American people know it...

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