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The Doldrums

The doldrums of Summer are nearly upon us. Humidity and temperature march steadily upward on the East Coast as we begin our annual descent to hell. We recall fondly January pinings for warmer weather and wonder what we could possibly have been thinking?

The adjustment is just one ritual among many.

The arrival of brutish weather harkens another kind of stagnancy, a dearth of sports this fan cares anything about. Unless you’re (gasp) a major league baseball addict (we'll deal with you later), you are about to enter the sports Mojave with a half-empty canteen. The NFL draft has come and gone. Soon even the handful of NBA and NHL fans among us will have nothing to tune in for, as those leagues bring their exhausting seasons to a welcome close. What then? Baseball? Golf? Poker on ESPN2?

What is he talking about, you ask? The NFL season is right around the corner. Minicamps are in session. Hope springs anew for the (insert beleaguered NFL franchise here) _______. This could be the season where we turn it all around. The pre-season is mere months away. Ahhh. And there lies the point – we’re months away from even being able to watch pre-season NFL games. We’re a hot, humid, interminable Summer away from the return of the real NFL.

Lord, give me the strength to wait for it.

For geographically challenged fans, the wait is even more excruciating. We can’t listen to daily prognostications on DC sports jock radio, can’t tune into today's local TV interview of player X to hear how this year will be different and how promising our Redskins future suddenly is. For distant fans, May/June/July is the dead-zone. Of course, there are other times of the year when our team is nowhere to be found on TV and radio. For Redskins fans, this frequently (and sadly) occurs in late December. That post-season hiatus is almost a necessary catharsis though. We’ve cried, we’ve bled, and we just need to take a break. We need time and space to recapture belief in our team’s 'potential’, to re-charge our fan batteries. We watch other fan’s teams grasp glory or heartbreak on January TV. Then comes the cosmic tease of the NFL draft, during which the fortunes of every team are, with 10 seconds at a podium, won or lost. We enjoy a few blissful weeks of dissection, rejoice, and self-flagellation before the doldrums arrive. And now they are upon us.

For the 2010 Washington Redskins, everything has changed. Our gazillionaire owner has stepped away from the red phone, and appears to be content in letting football people build a team that can win. Spring cleaning saw more than a few veteran Redskins swept out. A lottery pick QB, whose lucky number was never going to come up, has been sent packing, off to the hapless Raiders to serve as their latest savior. The Redskins have made the boldest move of the off-season (again), one no one saw coming, in bringing in a Pro Bowl quarterback from a hated rival’s roster. This mysterious team we love drafted an offensive lineman with the #4 pick in the draft, and has brought in a stable of geriatric (aka 'veteran’) running backs to compete for the glory of carrying the pigskin. The worm has turned in Washington, D.C.

But what does it all mean? Can McNabb still be one of the best QB’s in this league, or was it Andy Reid who made him a star in Philadephia? Will the changes we’ve made on the offensive line be enough to keep McNabb mostly upright? Is Clinton Portis the devil, and will the recent addition of lots of competition spark him to previous impressive form? Will Fred Davis and Chris Cooley become the most feared duo on offense in 2010? Just how fat will fat Albert be if/when he finally shows up to Redskins practices, and can Jim Haslett get him looking more like the guy we traded Fort Knox for a year ago? So many questions, and so long to wait to get some answers. But wait we must and wait we will.

If there is a God, the lack of meaningful, watchable sports on TV for the next 3 months can only represent one heavenly commandant.

Get thee outside and play people

So buy yourself a bicycle, start that vegetable garden your wife’s been nagging you about, take your kids to an amusement park, paint the house that so badly needs it, learn how to brew your own beer. Something, anything to take your mind off the fact that we’ll have to wait 3 more hot, humid oppressive months to once again cheer for our boys in Burgundy and Gold.

But cheer up guys and gals. Afterall, the World Cup starts in just 25 days :)
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