So that actually happened: Donovan McNabb is actually Washington's quarterback, Mike Shanahan is actually the coach and the Redskins actually wore gold pants. Throw in actually making the Cowboys look bad on national television and it was the kind of night Redskins fans have not experienced in a while, at least since Joe Gibbs returned in 2004, the Redskins followed a disappointing 2003, winning their season opener the next year with a new coach, a new quarterback as the team opened a new chapter in its history.
That day looks a little small now when you compare Donovan McNabb to Mark Brunell, those Buccaneers to these Cowboys and a 1:00 pm game to a primetime match.
Yeah Sunday night's season opener was a weird experience.
My oldest kids are eight years old, twin boys, and they play lacrosse and soccer, I have noticed, even as they go into their third seasons playing these sports, that often times their heads are not in the play, they appear to be spectators on the field, watching the play go by with this look on their faces like wow those dudes are running fast.
That was me Sunday. Looking at my notes for the Curly R gamewrap, they are very thin as though the detail was not all sinking in, a number of times I caught myself looking at the game rather than watching the game, giggling at the epic reality of it all.
Donovan McNabb? Playing for the Redskins? GTFO, isn't Donovan the one that played for the Eagles for like a decade and torched the Redskins twice a year? In Donovan's eleven seasons with the Eagles, he started nineteen games against Washington and finished 12-7, I had the privilege of seeing in person every game Donovan played against the Redskins save the 2000 at Philadelphia game, a Redskins win by the way. From the very beginning of his career I thought Donovan would look good in burgundy and gold and my game partner lifetime Eagles fan, season ticket holder and Curly R reader/lurker Wilbert Montgomery used to joke ten years ago that when Donovan was washed up Dan Snyder could have him. So far I am good with the sloppy seconds.
Mike Shanahan? Coaching the Redskins? Don't eff with me, isn't coach Shanahan that dude with the stare that was in Denver for like a long time? As a Redskins fan nothing about football pumps my nads more than a serious and I mean ascetic commitment to the running game. Great defense has always been a hallmark of good Redskins teams, and this year's defense is going to give the offense some cover as it figures itself out, there is however nothing quite like the titillation I feel when the Redskins run the ball against your team over and over and over and you know it is coming and still cannot stop it and the clock is pounding in your coach's head TICK. TOCK. TICK. TOCK. One way or another coach Shanahan is going to bring that back. Throw it any way you want, just keep the clock running and wear out the line with the run.
Gold pants? For real? I have had a pathological loyalty to the white jersey since the Joe Gibbs days, coach Gibbs himself continuing the trend toward a new Redskins look after the gold pants were retired by second year general manager Bobby Beathard in 1979, the Redskins had never worn white on top by choice until Joe Gibbs and while as a child I remember the 70s uniforms, the white jerseys and burgundy pants synonymous with the success of the Joe Gibbs years is so ingrained that I have traditionally associated the burgundy jersey with losing. Even through 2005, 2006 and 2007 when the team was wearing the white and white that Sonny Jurgenson hated so much I still loved it because the white jerseys to me are the Redskins winning. I am admitting that after Sunday and the return of the gold pants I am open to evolving my preferences for Redskins gameday attire. Oh by the way the fan jersey is always burgundy.
As a final thought about Sunday's game, a wise football fan once taught me the second best way to see your team win over a hated rival such as these arrogant and overrated Cowboys is the epic blowout, an emasculating lions and Christians experience where it is painfully obvious the other team just wishes it could concede in the third quarter and go home. As a fan you emerge from this game empowered, confident, maybe too much so.
This same football shaman told me hands down the best way to win a game over a team you never ever want to see win ever? To win in the last second on a bad call. To snatch the victory from the jaws of defeat on a non penalty penalty or a catch so far inbounds that it is caught by all cameras and still ruled out of bounds, the phantom hold, the blatant non pass interference. The untimed play. Hell hath no whiner like football fan swallowing an L where there by rights should be an W.
We got the next best thing to that on Sunday, the Redskins and Cowboys battled to a defensive stalemate with Dallas making a typically Dallas last second play to beat the Redskins... again. But with no time on the clock Dallas backup right tackle Alex Barron horse collared rushing linebacker Brian Orakpo and it was so obvious that Brian was held, the Redskins won in the last second on a good call negating a Cowboys game winning play because the talent matchup went Washington's way for a change.
Ben Folsom is ready for an afternoon game and is the editor of The Curly R, a blog covering the Redskins and the NFL since 2006. The Folsom Point appears Tuesdays on Hogs Haven.