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Wino Bad

You don't know when it happened.

One day, you're a successful professional, loved, admired, and respected. Good things are happening, and even better are on the horizon. Life is wonderful, your coffers are full, and the world is your oyster.

Next thing you know, you are rising from fitful dreams, blurry images sharpening to a painful focus through squinted eyes in the bright morning light. The sound of cars honking rudely and incessantly through rush hour traffic greets you, along with the smells of the alley - vomit, urine, cheap liquor, and something dead. You sit up, head swimming, and swallow down the nausea, swat away the tiny rocks embedded in your face from a night sleeping on the cold pavement. Reality hits you like a lover's slap as you peer around the cold stark place you now find yourself in.

And you wonder...

How in the hell did I ever, in a million years, arrive at this place?

So it is for our Washington Redskins.

Wino bad. That's what we are Ladies and Gentlemen.

But of course, this trip to despair didn't really happen overnight. It began innocently enough - a few casual trades of draft picks here, a couple of aging stars there, shunning conventional wisdom throughout, no harm in that. When the cracks begin to show, you play a little 3 card Molly, blame the coaches and shuffle in a new set of talking heads to cover your tracks. Turner, Robiskie, Shottenheimer, Spurrier, Gibbs, Zorn...a parade of leadership to take the blame. The veneer is bright, it's shiny, it's slick and promising. God knows it sells. But it's only a veneer. Even a returning legend can't make it real, substantial. Because it's only a veneer. Even then, our talking head gets the blame. He's old. He's out of touch. The game has passed him by. But that's not really it, is it? Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. And it smells so bad, even Joe Jackson Gibbs can't stand the stench for long.

Soon the thin facade of respectability is nearly transparent. Friends and family start avoiding you. The word is out. This play is not going to end up on Broadway. You've become a straight-to-video operation. Obvious successors run for the exit. Promising NFL coaches shun, even mock you. You revert to your true nature, and hire an inexperienced, unproven coach who is so unqualified for the job it doesn't dawn on him to apply for it. You can intimidate, direct, and control him. You can keep the machine running.

Denial. It's a bitch.

There's no denying anything now. You're a wino, and you've just woken up in some nameless, stinking street with no idea how you got there and no idea where to go from here. They call it 'rock bottom'.

But through the dirty haze of steam and car exhaust rising off the pavement, shine the first bright rays of a new day. You take comfort - because there is solace in knowing, it really can't get any worse for you. The hardest step is over. The Reckoning has come. The first glimmer of hope lifts your spirit. You've had to embrace the one immutable fact. You've got a problem. And now, you're either going to swallow hard, stand up, start making yourself presentable, and turn it around, or all you're ever going to be is that wino.

2010 approaches. The new year is a time for introspection, commitment, renewal. What's done is done and there is no escaping the past. But here's to hoping our Washington Redskins are finally moving forward. It can't get any worse. There's comfort and promise in that. May Bruce Allen and the next Redskins coaching staff take this team and build something solid and substantial of it. What better foundation for success than humility?

And humility, we got :)
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