I Got You Under My Skin(s)
My dad was the best arm-chair quarterback that ever lived. As a kid, I was sure they could hear him on the sidelines as he barked orders at the television; bellowing keen analysis at the top of his lungs from the Lazy Boy. Sonny Jurgensen and George Allen took the brunt of the verbal lashing but there was love behind every word.
You see, the Redskins have been vexing from Day 1.
We fans are a weary tribe, indeed. We’ve praised the Hogs. We’ve made Snyder voodoo dolls. We’ve purchased the RGIII jersey and bought into the hype. We’ve reminisced about our Super Bowl wins back in the day. We’ve seen a revolving door of coaches spit out the well-intended like a watery wad of chew. We’ve memorialized the lumbering frame of Riggins on our basement walls, in the hopes of resurgence. We’ve prayed. We’ve pounded our fists. We’ve vowed to quit to no avail.
Because this franchise stole our hearts decades ago and we never quite got them back again.
Over the years we stood by—desolate– as they broke those hearts into Humpty-Dumpty sized pieces that a king’s ransom in free agency couldn’t put back together again.
Football love is tough love, people.
Back before concussion protocol or throwing flags for play review, this team was good. Gritty and good. We weren’t flashy like Namath or a well-oiled machine like Montana and Rice but we got the job done. Dallas always had our number, but each time we took the field there was hope.
Recently though, we’d gone from hopeful to hopeless and settled in at hapless one agonizing loss at a time. Tickets hit bargain basement prices. RGIII jerseys hit the clearance racks. I heard my despair echoed in Jurgensen’s beleaguered voice on the radio play by play each week. We were suddenly the Chicago Cubs of the NFL; forever cursed and chasing that elusive trophy.
The Burgundy and Gold army was shrouded in black to match the dark cloud that had descended over our team. But a funny thing happened on the way down, Kirk Cousins showed up. He was the light at the end of our very bleak turf tunnel. This was a new team that was starting to resemble the teams of yesteryear. With no superstar, franchise player in sight we went back to the basics of teamwork and tenacity. Behind Cousins, we strung together a series of ugly wins to land atop the division.
Throwing caution to the wind, we life-long devotees fell in love all over again. Hard. We swooned as Cousins executed the biggest come-back in franchise history over the Buccaneers. We blushed with pride when we knocked out Philly at home to end their season.
Reunited and it feels so good.
Our hero even had a catch phrase and was the darling of ESPN’s Sports Center. The analysts all agreed, Washington could beat Green Bay in the first round of the play offs. We were not climbing on any bandwagon; we built that rickety sucker and were proud to call it ours again. As a result, ticket prices soared as those Redskins became an expensive date but so, so worth it.
The bloom officially came off the rose during the second half of our first foray in the playoffs. Green Bay stepped up their defense as ours virtually disappeared. Our brief, second honeymoon crashed and burned before our very eyes complete with the horror of instant replay to rub salt in the wound.
Like all jilted lovers, I sat in disbelief when I realized it was over. Had the last two months of pure devotion meant nothing to these Skins?
I will make promises to myself over the next seven months; vowing to keep a healthy distance. The endless oaths to keep up that emotional wall from training camp through Super Bowl,
But, who am I kidding? The Redskins will always be my first love.
The pull of that first love is irresistible. There is no denying and you know you like that.