For those who joined the site during the season or pre-season, you missed out on a semi-regular offseason column I like to write. "Missed" is of course a subjective term (as is "column", "write", and "semi".) As Redskins fans, we have little more than hope to hold onto. We have little more than our faith to keep us from spinning right off of this planet into the great unknown. At Hogs Haven, we spend a great deal of time combining our love of italicizing contrived stories with letting unbridled optimism run free. Because of this, I like to warm up the italics button and deliver a panty dropping installment of the world-famous Boldly Hoping series.
Let me take you back to Sunday, October 26, 1997.
The 3-4 San Diego Chargers played the 0-7 Indianapolis Colts. Neither team was very good, though each side had some pretty awesome players. The Colts had Marshall Faulk, and the Chargers had Rodney Harrison...and the immortal Stan Humphries.
The Chiefs and the Broncos were the class of the AFC West. The Chargers had managed wins over just the lowly Saints, Ravens and Raiders--all of which finished the season with losing records. The Colts were winless and were fighting for respectability and pride. Neither spent too much time in Indy that season.
The Colts were winless entering the game and the Chargers were winless for the remainder of the season. Both teams would finish the year with 4 victories.
What happened that day though, had huge implications that rippled through time. Imagine you are a fan of either team, tuning in to watch your boys play a game that would most likely be unwatchable. It would never occur to you that the outcome of this affair would shape your team for years to come.
The early MVP of the game was a kicker named Greg Davis. Through two quarters of play the score was Greg Davis 12, Colts 0. Stan Humphries passed for 229 yards and a touchdown for the Super Chargers, while Paul Justin (yes, that Paul Justin) tallied 243 yards and two touchdowns. Suffice to say the game has not been featured on ESPN Classic.
So why did the Chargers 35-19 victory over the Colts that season matter? Based on a rudimentary understanding of how they break ties to determine the NFL draft order, it is likely that Indy's conference loss here vaulted them to the top draft spot in the 1998 draft...exactly one spot higher than the San Diego Chargers.
I know there were other moments and games that contributed to this and there were even other teams involved in the tie-breaking at the top of that draft. I am relatively certain about this though...if the Colts win that game, they don't draft #1 overall. I would even bet that I am not the first to underline the importance of this particular matchup given what went down in the 1998 draft.
The rest is history. The Colts took Peyton Manning and the Chargers took Ryan Leaf.
How does that apply to the Redskins? Well, I notice we are slated to pick one slot higher than the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2010 NFL Draft. Two craptastic teams at the top of the draft who played each other in a craptastic game in October the previous season. When the Chiefs won, it wasn't just a nunchuk to the nads. I was at that game and when the final whistle blew, I sat in my seat at FedEx Field and asked the BIG questions:
Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?
If Scottie Pippen wasn't an NBA player, would he ever get laid?
Are the Redskins really a worse franchise than the Chiefs right now?
Three months later, I look back at that game and wonder if God had a plan. Maybe we had to lose that game to get rid of Vinny Cerrato. Maybe we had to suck OUT LOUD against the Chiefs so that we could see ourselves for who we truly were. Maybe Scottie Pippen pays for sex. Maybe we had to lose that game so that we could pick one slot higher than the Kansas City Chiefs and stick them with the "Bust of the 2010 NFL draft."
There will be a bust in this draft. And in the rarified air of the top 5 picks, it doesn't get much bustier (insert your own boob joke here...I'll go with, "unless you're Charlie Sheen dropping mad pesos at a Mexican brothel.")
Could it be that the stars have aligned the way they did in 1997-98 for the Colts? Could it be that two franchises who faced off in a game that was less fun to watch than televised church set the table for one to be saved and the other to be screwed?
We shall see. I'll tell you one thing though...I am ready for a full offseason of Boldly Hoping.