- In the 2000 movie, Memento, Guy Pearce’s character tries to track down his wife’s murderer despite battling crippling short-term memory loss (it’s a WAY different kind of short-term memory loss than Ashton Kutcher in “Dude, Where’s My Car?”). Pearce’s movie is kind of a tough movie to watch, but it is one of those movies that makes you really think hard about the mental condition of the main character. He wakes up every day forgetting key facts about his life, so he has them tattooed onto his body so that when he looks in the mirror, he will be reminded of the truth. In this way, he is able to piece together clues that will hopefully lead him—eventually—to his wife’s killer. On one hand, the Redskins fan in me envies those moments where he has forgotten about the terrible things he has suffered and experiences fleeting seconds of bliss before realizing the truth as it is laid out in tattoos across his body. On the other hand, it is difficult to watch as people around him manipulate him and exploit his condition for their own gain. These thoughts occurred to me as I woke up on Sunday morning without a Redskins game to watch, and on Monday morning without a Redskins loss to lament. As I laid in bed considering the plight of Guy Pearce’s character—and of my own as a fan of the burgundy and gold—I tried to think about what I would tattoo on my body to remind me of where we are as a Redskins fanbase today. I eagerly await your contributions to this exercise below, as we will pick this theme up in the basement tomorrow night on The Audible. I figure I can’t just write this stuff the same way each week, so the Memento theme could end up being helpful. (Spoiler Alert: Memento is not a feel-good, pick-me-up kind of movie.)
- “Dan Snyder Doesn’t Care About Winning Games”—This one is very easy to forget. After all, he has spent a crap-ton of money on football players and football coaches over the years. It boggles the mind that a businessman wouldn’t want his business to achieve success in the very arena in which it participates. Professional football teams in America show up on Sundays to battle each other on a 100-yard field and match wits in a game of brutal chess that seldom leaves either side unharmed. Winning teams reap the spoils of increased merchandise sales and higher profile television slots. Losing teams suffer the pain of increased merchandise sales and primetime television slots...wait a second. You’re telling me no matter win or lose, NFL franchises make money hand over fist, Robert Kraft-style? As fans, we get so wrapped up in the box scores of the actual games played on the field that we forget a core truth—some owners don’t give a crap about wins and losses. The balance sheet is where the winning takes place and that is just dandy. Dan Snyder has proven time and time again that he doesn’t measure success by wins and losses. He measures success by how much he has milked from the masses, like a shorter, fatter, dumber C. Montgomery Burns (after all, Monty was a Yalie). I completely allow myself to forget this truth on a weekly basis as I tune in to watch my beloved Redskins, and so it would be the biggest tattoo in bold type across my chest.
- “Dwayne Haskins Is Doomed”—This tattoo is important for what it symbolizes beyond just the future of one very talented and physically gifted football player. I love the idea of Dwayne Haskins. I love the possibility of the idea of Dwayne Haskins. I love that we imported the possibility of the idea of Dwayne Haskins in the draft. In fact, I love it so much, that for a second I forgot ALL ABOUT the first tattoo! For those of you out there who think if given an opportunity, Haskins can turn into a very solid pro in the NFL, I agree with you. For those of you out there who love the way that Haskins can spin it, and think that the way his body is built seems tailor-made for the very physical nature of the professional game, I agree with you. These are things we all should want out of a signal-caller with a bright future in the league, but we can’t forget about what is happening inside Redskins Park. That is what the first tattoo is all about. This organization is not dedicated to winning actual football games. The culture has developed into something so toxic, it has stink lines emanating from it, like Pig-Pen in Charles Schulz’ Peanuts cartoons. Whatever it comes into contact with wilts and fails. That means that despite our wildest dreams and most optimistic visions, guys like Dwayne Haskins will simply never turn into anything great in the burgundy and gold. I remember writing this for the first time about a decade ago in the hopes that I was dead wrong, but I wasn’t: Dan Snyder has created the perfect place for people come to fail. (Did I mention that Memento was a real downer of a movie?)
- “Trent Williams Is Never Playing for the Redskins Again”—This tattoo might not need to be as front and center as the others, but based on how hard Bruce Allen is trying to convince us and the league that Trent Williams is coming back to play for the Redskins, a reminder is necessary. I haven’t seen this kind of delusion since I was in the 9th grade, when I thought that I had an actual chance of EVER getting to second base. To hear Bruce Allen tell it, he just needs to get Trent Williams to take a meeting at Redskins Park, where he can whisper sweet-nothings into the left tackle’s ear. Bing-bang-boom...Trent suits up and resumes his Redskins career. As enticing an opportunity as it must seem—to Bruce—for a player to come back and begin subjecting his body to the physical harm of this league for a 1-7 team that doesn’t feel as good as its record...the tattoo tells us the truth. It is also a reminder to us fans that the absolute pound-for-pound best player the Redskins have had over the last decade finally threw his hands in the air and said, “Never again will I suit up for you clowns.” Rather than try and fix the “why” of that problem, Bruce Allen and Dan Snyder have instead chosen to focus on the “We can still make this problem worse” side of things. Mission accomplished!!
- “There Is No Consequence For Losing”—As a father, I try to impart the notion to my children that when you do things wrong, there are consequences. Some transgressions are worse than others, but empirical failures are met with tangible punishments (loss of dessert, a toy or television, or making my Sixpack required reading). For Washington Redskins fans, the Dan Snyder tenure has been full of zero consequences. Bruce Allen has done so poorly for so long (just north of a .300 winning percentage) that he makes me yearn for the days of Vinny Cerrato, who also skated by for quite some time after it became apparent he...had...no...clue. Coaches have been turned into scapegoats left and right. Redskins fans have been blamed for the appearance of opposing teams’ fans at FedEx. All the while, Dan Snyder keeps cashing gigantic television revenue-sharing checks. The people in charge of the team are more often in charge of finding someone else to blame for their own failings. Brian Lafemina and Scot “McLovin” McCloughan are recent examples. We can argue all we want about whether or not McLovin could have been the guy to get this roster fully back on track. Snyder and Allen were on board that train when he was here, and just like Lafemina, McLovin was booted from the train and blamed heavily for just about everything they could make stick. As fans, we wake up some days sincerely hoping that this culture of losing will result in the kind of accountability that any successful business would welcome. The tattoo will remind us that there is no accountability at Redskins Park and will save us from the futile hope that Dan Snyder will ever acquire the ability to feel shame.
- “It’s Not Our Fault”—I’m mixing movies now, dabbling in some Good Will Hunting to bring this home. Despite all the words I have written expressing the emotion that I feel confident the bulk of us share, this message should be tattooed on both arms. Redskins fans have a remarkable ability to separate out our dislike for Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen from our effort to enjoy the greatest team sport in America. It’s not our fault that Dan and Bruce have essentially sentenced Dwayne Haskins to a terrible start to his career. It’s not our fault that Dan and Bruce lack the self-awareness to see that they are among the worst sports executives in the history of sports. It’s not our fault that Bruce thinks a holiday-themed movie night for him and Trent is gonna smooth this whole thing out (Trent is never playing for the Redskins again). It’s not our fault. It is an important reminder too, because since Dan and Bruce rarely ever show up to take questions or criticism, fans have often turned the turrets on each other, blasting fellow fans for buying jerseys, attending games and even watching our favorite team in action. That’s not cool, because it’s not our fault. Take your kids to a game (it’s never been cheaper). Grill out and watch some football. No matter what we do, we have to remember, Dan Snyder doesn’t care about winning games, because there is no consequence for losing! The tattoos work. Now...off to bed so I can wake up tomorrow morning and enjoy a few precious moments thinking that our rookie quarterback is on the cusp of turning this franchise around, attracting our best player back into the fold to perform in front of an all-new, fully accountable front office hell-bent on winning ON the field!!! (I’m gonna have to make sure and sleep in long sleeves to delay the inevitable unveiling of my tattooed facts as long as possible.)
It’s good sometimes to forget what it is you wish you never remembered in the first place.