In my short life as a Redskins fan, there have been many memorable moments for me. Unfortunately, most of the memories related to the team are not so great, aside from this past season of course. Even though there are plenty of bad memories, there are a few really great ones I have of the team. I remember Sean Taylor annihilating that unlucky Bills punter during the Pro-Bowl. I remember Coach Joe Gibbs coming back to the team and the hope that was brought back to the franchise. I remember Todd Collins and Clinton Portis leading the Redskins to the fairytale-like playoff appearance after the tragic death of Sean Taylor. While these memories are important to me, a simple punt return play sticks out in my mind as my fondest memory.
My family has very few traditions, mostly because I come from a family of nine. When we were growing up, we all had busy schedules and we constantly had to adapt to change. But for the first Sunday of the NFL season, we would all sit in the family room and watch the Redskins season opener. My parents did not force you to stay if you did not want to, but we all watched the kickoff. I was not a huge football fan when I was younger, but I respected the tradition. I played little league baseball, but when I was little I was short for my age, un-athletic, and more concerned about the ways of the force than I was with sports.
But during one game in the 2008 season, at the beginning of my senior year of high school, everything changed. I cannot remember the details of the game. I have no idea who we were playing, what the score was, what quarter it was, or even if we won. However, I remember one distinct thing: a really cool punt return from Antwaan Randle El. He ran so swiftly and dodged every flying body that came at him. He was so fast and elusive. I was amazed. To most, Randle El is another free agency blunder of the Redskins' loose wallet. But to me, Randle El is the player that sparked my obsessive interest in football.
When his name appeared on the screen after his punt return I said to my mom, "His name is just like Superman! Just like Jor-El and Kal-El! He is Superman!" I remember that she laughed and she suggested I stay and watch the rest of the game. And after the game was over I decreed that Randle El was my favorite player. I watched the game the following week and I kept coming back for more. Randle El was Superman in a Redskins uniform, and I thought he was the coolest person ever. My first Redskins jersey was a gift from my parents, and it was none other than Randle El's, the Superman with an 82 on his chest. While I have other jerseys some fans consider to be "better," like Sonny and Robert Griffin III, my Randle El jersey will always be my favorite. Seeing that Randle El punt return helped me transform from a casual football fan into the fan that cannot function without the Redskins.
During the preseason of this past year, I was sitting on my couch thrilled to see Robert Griffin III take his first snaps as an NFL Quarterback against the Bills. I had a great feeling about the 2012 Redskins and I was so excited to see the new team. When I saw that Antwaan Randle El was a sideline reporter for Comcast SportsNet, it felt poetic to me. My first favorite Redskins player, my Superman in a Redskin's uniform, was on the sideline for Robert Griffin III's first NFL game. I may be the only person in all of Redskins nation who feels this way, but it was like the passing of the torch from one Superman to the next. Randle El may be viewed by some as an average player on an unimpressive team, but he will always be the first Superman I saw in a Redskins uniform and I will never forget that punt return play in 2008.