Monday, January 3, 2011

Letting Go of Another Losing Skins Season

Yes, the Redskins are terrible. But I still love the Redskins. Despite the constant heartache they bring me, I'll always bleed maroon and gold. It's a love affair of a lifetime; albeit a tragic one.

I was at the final Redskins game of the 2010-2011 season at our homefield, FedEx field last night. I knew it would be a hassle getting out there. I knew I would be freezing my butt off in the cold and the dark and the unmerciful wind. And I knew they would lose. Again. But still I went. And still I hoped they would win. And still I cheered. And still I felt that thrill and that pride when we scored a touchdown or defended a 3rd down successfully to incompletion.

Is this sickness? Is this insanity? Is it stupidity? Is this love?

I've said it many times and I'll say it again here, I don't mind losing so much as bad ball playing. Bad coaching. Half-ass work ethics. Unnecessarily distracting off the field drama. Thoughtless penalties and mistakes. It's the fact that we seem always on the precipice of being good. Always having just enough talent and just enough hype to believe. Again and again and again and again. And always being let down. And disappointed. And frustrated. And abused. Again and again and again.

If you are still angry listen to this - the most unbelievably passionate rant I've ever heard from a DC native and lifetime Redskins fan and sportscaster spitting out everything wrong with the Redskins and every thing their deficiencies have done to wound and scar their devoted fans. I can't take credit for finding this. I got it off of Confessions of a Sports Optimist's blog post entitled "End of the Year Retrospective." He writes: "...after the shellacking that the Redskins got at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football Chad Dukes unleashed the fury if you will, letting the pent up frustration that has built up in Redskins fans for almost a full generation that has seen all of 3 playoff appearances, 2 playoff victories, and 1 division title since winning Super Bowl 26. If you haven’t heard it already, go and listen to this now."

Seriously, do go and listen to it now. It'll be cathartic for you. I guarantee it. He says and feels everything we say and feel and know as Redskins fans.

The only thing I disagree with is his recommendation and blessing that we all lay down our loyalty to our crippled team and devote ourselves to another - the Eagles, the Cowboys, the Steelers.

But how could I? How could we? I grew up watching the games on the couch with my Dad when I was a little girl. He used to give me one single sip of beer. He would tell me the rules and who the players were. I know who my father is because of the Redskins. We have a bond that'll last our whole lives because of the Redskins. And I am who I am because of the Redskins. When I saw Darrell Green intercept a pass which would lead to a winning touchdown in the 1991 Super Bowl game against the Buffalo Bills, I was eight years old. And I decided then and there that I wanted to be just like Darrell Green. To be a defensive player athlete. Because "Defense Wins Championships" and takes grit and heart. Because most of the time you did a thankless job and no one noticed your talents the same way they did a receiver or a quarterback. And for these reasons, I played defense throughout my athletic career. In soccer and lacrosse and basketball. I modeled my work ethic to that of Number 28's.

I can appreciate that changing my loyalty to the Steelers or the Patriots or the Packers wouldn't retroactively change that DG was a great player. Or that I learned those positive qualities from emulating him. Or change the love I have for my father, or erase the times we spent together.

But still, somehow, it all still matters too much. I love the game too much. I love the Skins too much. And despite the horrors of the season, which need no repeating, I'm sad the season is over.

Football season is my favorite time of year. The promise of a new season. The changing of the Fall leaves and the influx of crisp, cool air. A clean slate. A fresh start. I put the team's schedule in my calendars and organize my weekends around watching every game, be it at a bar or at home or at the stadium. And things won't be quite the same until September rolls around again. On Sundays I'll feel restless, not knowing quite what to do with myself. Never wanting to watch anything on tv. Never being able to commit to any other sport because its just not football. The Nats season and a few blissfully beautiful summer games, at a stadium conveniently in the City, with much cheaper tix and somewhat cheaper beers will provide a short repast. And yet...I'll wait for next September. I'll watch for next September.

The Redskins don't deserve my undying affection. But they have it. Like the unconditional love of a mother to a child, they will always have me in the peanut gallery shouting, not whispering my "Hail!" and wearing their colors and defending their honor, through thick and through thin, for better or for worse. No one will ever know me to be a "fair weather fan."

Therefore, I'm letting go of another losing Skins season. And hoping for better in the Fall. Don't ask me why I do it. Don't try to convince me otherwise. Because I already know the Redskins are terrible. But, nevertheless, I love them. They are as much mine as they are Daniel Snyder's and will always be mine, long after he's gone. Until next season...



suicide_blond said...

annnd ill be right there with you... again... better luck next year skins...

Toddy said...

Thank you suicide! I knew someone would man up (ahem woman-up) and be my first comment. Love the attitude! There's always next year.... superbowl champs 2024? 2031? 2047?

Robert C. Binyon said...

I know how you feel as I have been cheering for our football team here at UCLA for the past 3 seasons. We keep feeling as though maybe, just maybe, we've finally gathered the talent to compete on the national stage. Yet, we never get there.

Great post!

Toddy said...

Binyon- I appreciate the compliment, since your recent sports writing is definitely impressive. Cheers, T.