Thursday, May 7, 2009

Washington Redskins

My favorite sports team of all time is the Washington Redskins. My affection for the team was a gradual affair. As a college student in Virginia, they were the only local pro team so if you watched football, they were “THE” team. The more I watched them compete, the more I liked them. This was the “future is now era” with George Allen. He traded away a ton of first round draft choices to get some veterans who knew how to win and play hard on the field. The names that I recall are now legendary there was Ron McDole, Chris Hanberger, Sonny Jurgenson, Bill Brundige, Billy Kilmer, Kenny Houston Charlie Taylor, Larry Brown and on and on. What a team. Even if they lost, they fought like furies til the bitter end. You couldn’t help but love these guys.

Then of course there was the rivalries that grew out of the NFC Eastern Division. All the team seemed to play harder when they played amongst their own division and great rivalries developed. There pretty much was the Redskins vs. everyone else. But within that, you had the Redskins vs. the Giants, Giants vs. Philly, Giants Vs. Dallas, Dallas vs. the Redskins. The Cardinals never had a smash mouth rival in the NFC East which may explain why they are now on the west coast.

As the years went by, the rivalries stayed much the same, but the ‘Skins got a new coach in 81 by the name of Joe Gibbs who made the Redskins a house hold word. He won the Super Bowl three times with three separate quarterbacks; Joe Theisman, Doug Williams and Mark Rypien. Those were great years; then Joe Gibbs retired and the team tanked for quite a while. They continued to try hard, but they had issues with several head coaching changes then a new owner who is not exactly Mr. Popularity.

I particularly didn’t like the way he handled the quarterback situation this off season. Jason Campbell has been the starter for 4 years. Last year the new coach installed the West Coast offense and Jason was getting used to it and did well the first half of the season. Trouble is that the offensive line did not protect him very well and the long and short of it was that they lost 4 out of their last 5 games. In the off season the owner decided to pursue The Denver quarterback and when that didn’t pan out he went after the number one draft pick in this year’s draft. That didn’t work either so Campbell is still the starter. Personally, if I was Campbell, I’d be really p.o.ed but he has shown composure. He’s working harder so maybe this year things will get better?? Maybe because the ‘Skins didn’t do anything this off season to improve their offensive line.
Over the years, my kids also became Redskin's fans and occasionally when I was able to scarf up some tickets to Giants Stadium years ago, I would bring one of them to the game. Usually, it was a night game and cold as heck, but they were the Redskins and we got to see them play in person so it was worth it to me.

But one of the big reasons why, I will never ever stop being a Redskin’s fan is because rooting for them is quite literally the last tenuous connection I have with the Commonwealth of Virginia. I really loved it there and miss it a lot. Still rooting for the Redskins keeps a little bit of that Virginia soul within me.

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