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Too Late

“It ain’t too late!”

It was a clear, bright Saturday morning, and like the wails of a religious zealot entreating the doomed masses the words rang out across the parking lot, somewhere between Academy Sports and Home Depot. I was on foot, waiting to cross an access road there in the lot, and I had to look around – first to figure out who was being spoken to, and then to figure out who had done the speaking.

Not the easiest task as I’m not always the sharpest knife in the drawer before noon on the last day of the week, especially on the morning after the night before. . . if you take my meaning.

The shouted words had come from the driver’s side window of a slowly passing, white pickup truck, loaded with lumber for a day of work, the driver and passenger both giving me the eye like I was dressed in my best Halloween garb or something.

“Huh?” I grunted my uber witty reply at him as I realized his statement had indeed been intended for me.

“It ain’t too late.” He repeated for me, a little slower and a bit louder this time, as though I was a foreigner who didn’t speak the language or maybe a small child just learning to talk.

“Too late for what?” I asked, again with the brilliant discourse.

“To take that hat off!” he shot back with a big toothy grin.


My slow, Saturday morning, one-cup-of-coffee brain finally caught up with the reality I was currently experiencing. Shaking my head, I grinned back at him.

If this exchange sounds a bit odd, it is only because you are missing a couple of crucial facts.

First, I was wearing the Redskins ball cap I always wear when it is honey-do Saturday and I need to cover up the mop that passes for hair on my head.

Second, the parking lot I was in at the time is located in Northeast Dallas.

Yeah, that Dallas.

It is just one more day in paradise for this guy with a Burgundy and Gold Obsession living Behind Enemy Lines.

I wear my fair share of the Redskin holy vestments, which gets me looks and comments a good bit when I am out and about, as I am sure you can imagine. While seeing someone in Cowboys gear in VA, DC or MA was not an odd occurrence growing up, seeing the reverse here is rare indeed. I am an odd duck here, my friends, of that I assure you.

The comments of this grinning stranger triggered thoughts and memories of seasons and games gone by. Names that blaze across the history of the team my simple hat represents. Games both glorious and heartbreaking, many against the same team this only half-joking handyman would have me cheer for if he could but get me to take off the offending headgear.

Images of Dallas Week, George Allen, and Tom Landry with his much more famous hat. Roger Staubach and Clint Longely - the likely sacrificial lamb turned unlikely hero from my very own alma mater. Sonny and Billy, Hollywood, Tony breaking free on Monday night only to be caught from behind by then no-name rookie Darrell Green. Daryl Grant spiking in the End Zone on the cover of SI, and Dave Butz taunting Danny White into a doomed audible. The Skins loosing to a Jerry Jones/Jimmy Johnson team that would end the season 1-15, Arrington sacking Aikman and Santana with the most amazing 1 minute 15 seconds any Redskin fan has ever seen . . . .

To be sure, there is more. Much more. But these were just the images that rolled, ESPN highlight-reel-fashion, through my mind in that second of recognition under the glare of the hot Dallas sun.

Seeing that I understood his jest, my new buddy accelerated toward the parking lot exit, heading off to whatever job had brought him here in the first place. As the truck picked up speed, he couldn’t resist one last push for me to abandon my faith and come over to the dark side.

“It ain’t too late!” he called once again over his shoulder.

He was too far away to have heard my reply, even if I had yelled it.

“Ain’t too late? Dude! Its thirty-five years too late!”
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