Well, I feel as though I need to establish my Skins fan bona fides. I grew up in Montgomery County, MD. I started paying attention to the Redskins in 1979 as my dad was watching them allow a 4th quarter lead against the Cowboys
slip away, and with it the postseason. My dad, you see, lived and died with the Skins. What was important to him was important to me.
A fan was born.
A few years later I would be glued to a 13" TV in the kitchen of my mom's house as John Riggins scored what would become the game-winning TD in Superbowl XVII.
A superfan was born. I proceeded to wear a #44 jersey and helmet for Halloween for the next few years.
In the mid-1990s, I moved (for a job) to San Diego, CA. I brought my Skins gear with me. In my first year in Cali, I heard on the news that the Chargers
game would be "blacked out" locally. "Blacked out? What does that mean?" I innocently asked a Chargers "fan". I was met with great consternation. "It MEANS that the Chargers didn't sell enough tickets to have the game be shown locally!" I mentioned the Redskins sellout history and about how I had never heard of a local blackout...that went well.
I came to find that San Diego "fans" were about as fair weather as...well, as San Diego itself. The following year I was treated to a free Chargers-Broncos
game, courtesy of the City Government, who had bought up enough tickets to have the games shown on TV and handed them out to local school kids. The so-called ticket guarantee did not last long.
I say all that to say this: It is tough being a speck of Burgundy and Gold in a sea of powder blue (I know, I know...powder blue? Really? You guys know this is football, right?). I know that there's a bar in Ocean Beach that is a Skins hangout, but I can't bring my 12 and 13 year-old boys there to watch. So it’s Direct TV or a kid-friendly sports bar.
3 years ago, I spent a King's ransom to take the boys to the closing game between the Skins and Chargers at Qualcomm. The Skins were 4-11 and the Chargers were already in the playoffs. I wasn't exactly optimistic, but it was the first chance I had to take the boys (Portis and Cooley fans respectively) to see their beloved Redskins. It was beyond miserable. Drunken Chargers "fans" cursing at us and making threats. The boys were 9 and 10 at the time. On the way out, someone pulled my Skins helmet magnet off my truck and tossed it.
Stay classy, San Diego.
Now that they are awful and we're on the verge of the NFC East title, I don't hear as much from them. The jerseys have all but disappeared. Hmph. How'd Norv Turner work out for you guys?
Anyway, right after the Eagles
win this year, something about my whole experience as a fan changed. I stopped being mealy-mouthed, pessimistic and apologetic about my team for the first time in a long time. I sensed that we had somehow turned a corner. The Friday before the Dallas game, I sent out an email to all my fellow fans (and to a few Cowboys fans I know). In it I stated that this was the dawn of a new era. We are going to be a dominant team well into the next decade. It's a feeling that I have seen reflected in numerous posts in this site and I finally had to add my voice to the mix.
That said, I am on the verge of having a stroke about this Sunday's game. This is what we live for. You could not have written this script any better. If you're reading this in the D.C. area and have tickets, PLEASE DO NOT sell them to Dallas fans! We;re going to need every fan we can get shouting down the Dallas offense. I want to see Romo crying in a heap on his own 2 yard line as time runs out!!
One last thing: When we buried my dad at Arlington a few years back, the chaplain, a naval officer, took a minute during the graveside service to declare his shared love of the Washington Redskins
with my dad. THAT'S what I'm talking about, folks. Real fans rooting for their teams through thick and thin. I asked my older son recently about how it was going at school. He said that a bunch of kids are showing up wearing RGIII jerseys and how it made him mad, since he had stuck with the team over the last few seasons. I told him not to worry, and to welcome the new kids to the Redskins Nation. Tell them there’s plenty of room on our bandwagon!
Hail to 'em!!