Another T.O. rant
Once upon a time there was a boy who became a Washington Redskins fan. He was eight or nine years old. At that time most youths in the Berkeley Springs area that were going to be a NFL football fan chose either the Redskins or Baltimore Colts. Of course there were exceptions, but with local television and newspaper coverage of those two teams readily available in the eastern panhandle, it was a Skins and Colts majority.
He liked the Redskins, win or lose. Typically, back then, they did both equally well. The league played a 14 game schedule and the Redskins were consistently 6-8, 7-7 or 8-6 in the early years of being a fan. So the boy wasn’t a bandwagon fan. He liked the team because of its players, didn’t really matter what their record was. They competed and he considered them the home team because they were near his home. At least closer than all, but one other NFL franchise.
As the boy aged, the Redskins began to rise above the level of mediocrity and had some championship runs. They became annual contenders for their division title and even berths in the Super Bowl. With the increase of success came an increase in the amount of passion the boy, now entering his 20’s, had for his football team. Losses mattered more and wins, especially over hated rivals, were cherished.
What was really cool back then was that the core group of players on NFL teams didn’t change much. This was true with all professional teams in that era. Anyway, that dynamic made it easier for fans to develop their knowledge of the players, to simply identify with their teams more. Less transition meant more cohesive play on the field too. There was camaraderie. It was a good thing.
That is the way it was. Since then free agency has entered the picture. That has helped salaries soar and players chasing the golden goose are not likely to hang around on one team when another team is willing to pay him a lot more money.
Who can blame them?
While the NFL is still a good product, team unity and the ability of fans to really identify with the players has diminished considerably. Now, you may be forced to cheer for a hated rival that your team has taken in the free agent market. This scenario has caused the boy, now well into middle age, much consternation in recent years.
The worst was when his Redskins signed the much-despised showboat Deion Sanders. It is not easy on some fans that would rather win with players they like, than to win with guys like Sanders to get on board with these personnel decisions.
One player who does not fit that mold is recently signed quarterback Donavan McNabb. The Redskins recently acquired McNabb from division rival Philadelphia. While the aging fan never really wanted the Eagles and McNabb to succeed because they were rivals, but McNabb seemed to be a respected player. Maybe a head scratching acquisition to some Skins’ fans, but no notable personal baggage.
Last week the Redskins were rumored to be in the market for wide receiver Terrell Owens. Not just a showboat, but also a disruptive element wherever he has played. Stranger than wanting a 34 year old wide out, was that reports said it was McNabb who had approached Redskins’ management to pursue Owens. That revelation was very curious considering that Owens publicly questioned McNabb’s courage when Owens was with the Eagles.
The long time fan’s feathers were so ruffled at the thought of Owens playing on his team that he was seriously considering a complete separation from the Redskins. It turns out that the Redskins and McNabb denied the report, so for now it seems the Owens story was a media creation. Very odd that the media could create such a story out of thin air.
The bottom line is no T.O. in DC, so all is good for now. All, except the Redskins seem mired in mediocrity again.