For as long as I can remember I have been a fan of the Washington Redskins. As a boy I looked forward to September and the beginning of the NFL season. Sunday afternoons were dedicated to watching the Skins play. My dad was a fan and so were my uncles. I recall fondly the wood stove heating my grandfather’s den as my youthful voice joined in with the men to pull “our team” to victory or as we all groaned at the prospect of certain defeat.
Although I’ve never known a time I didn’t pull for the Redskins, I guess my first memories come from the early 70s. George Allen, Billy Kilmer, Charley Taylor and Larry Brown kept me company on Sundays after church. The loss to the Dolphins in Super Bowl VII still stings today. And watching Roger Staubach and the Cowboys come from behind to win the 1979 season finale cemented my woeful opinion of the the dreaded team from Dallas.
I had learned from early on that the Dallas Cowboys were the enemy and I never forgot it! I took my Washington allegiance with me when my wife and I moved to Texas. Our Texas friends, however, were Cowboys fans. That made life interesting, to say the least. In 1988, we were attending a Super Bowl Party with our Sunday School class. I was in the minority there with nearly everyone else pulling for the Broncos. Down 10-0 I endured a little harassment. By the second half I was the only one left watching as Doug Williams and Timmy Smith put on an offensive show. Super Bowl XXII wasn’t just a victory for the Redskins; it was a personal triumph of one fan living in enemy territory.
The first Joe Gibbs era was a great ride. I can still see the Fun Bunch leaping high into the air in their end zone celebration and who could forget the Hogs creating holes for bruising running back John Riggins who assumed demi-god status in my eyes as he wore down defenses on his way to yet another 100-yard gain. Mark Moseley was Mr. Consistent racking up field goal after field goal. Dexter Manley wrecked havoc in the backfield. Darrell Green impressed both in his blazing speed and his ability to pick off passes. And Joe Theismann could be counted on to deliver time after time… until Lawrence Taylor ended Joe’s stellar career in a way that still makes me nauseous today.
I hung in with the team through a carousel of coaches: Petitbone, Turner, Robiskie, Schottenheimer, Spurrier, the second Gibbs regime, Zorn and Shanahan. With each coach, I had hopes of returning to the days of glory, but that spark was soon extinguished. There were moments of elation. Hope dangled like a carrot at the end of a stick, but it was always just out of reach. Season after season ended largely in disappointment.
With the emergence of RGIII at quarterback and Alfred Morris at running back, my hopes were once again kindled. I even had one Dallas friend admit he was pulling for the Skins with a Baylor man at QB, but then came the knee injury, the recuperation period, and the nearly-as-nauseating-as-the-Theismann-episode reinjury of Griffin’s knee. The Redskins hopes (and mine) were carted off the field along with the injured star quarterback.
With the dismissal of Shanahan at the end of the 2013 season and the hiring of new head coach Jay Gruden, I once again began to wonder if 2014 might be the season we turned the corner and headed back to the promised land. For a little while it looked as if number 10 might make the 2014 season something magical… then came the dislocated ankle. Oh well…
After watching the Redskins today drop to 1-5 while shooting themselves in the foot more often than Barney Fife ever did, I have come to the conclusion that it may not be worth the weekly frustration to continue my fandom. Perhaps I should cut my losses and open myself up to the possibility of changing my allegiance to one of the other 31 teams out there. Sure, I could end up as a long-suffering Browns fan or an ever-frustrated Jets fan, but would it truly be any worse that the four-turnover fourth quarter I just witnessed against Arizona?
So here I am offering myself as a fan to the highest bidder. Be advised, I’m a pastor so I work on Sundays and cannot attend the games, but I am willing to pay the premium to follow my team on NFL Sunday Ticket. I’ll jettison “Hail to the Redskins” and learn another fight song. I’ll swap burgundy and gold for a new team’s colors. Yes, I’m a fan for sale. Any takers?