When it comes to the sporting world, I am not a fan of the NFL. TV timeouts and the non-football activities have turned me away from the sport. I have also discovered the beauty of outdoor, family times on Sunday afternoons in the fall. In my old age however, I have begun to follow the Washington teams as my home teams. I am passionate about the Nationals, follow the Caps with great interest, and at least check the Bullets (oops, Wizards) score. And now, with former student, James Farrior’s career winding down, I suspect I will follow the Redskins a little more carefully this fall.
This is a Redskin town that has somehow been overrun by Steeler fans. It has been a rough generation for the local die-hards. A great run saw the Redskins win Super Bowl titles in 1982, 1987, and 1991. Coach Joe Gibbs was the model of consistency in the memorable era that most ‘Skins fans thought would continue forever.
It wasn’t to be however, as Gibbs retired and went to NASCAR a year after the last title. Washington became the symbol of mediocrity throughout the rest of the decade, averaging just six wins per season.
With the death of Jack Kent Cooke, a brash young billionaire by the name of Daniel Snyder purchased the team in 1998. His pockets were deep, but his football knowledge was small. Year after year, the draft just didn’t work out, and his flashy signings of the likes of Deion Sanders and Albert Haynesworth turned out to be more of a cancer than an answer. Under Snyder’s ownership, the ‘Skins have been an underwhelming 91-117, with seven head coaches in 13 seasons.
Finally, Snyder seems to have seen the light with the hiring of Mike Shanahan. It was a good hire, and a good move to turn football matters over to Shanahan, who built a dynasty in Denver, and to GM Bruce Allen. Though not spectacular, the Redskins have shown improvement. Washington was in most games last year, in spite of a second straight 6-10 record. Better drafting and smarter free agent acquisitions have brought the glimpse of a light at the end of the tunnel.
The excitement, though, centers on this year’s number one pick. Baylor’s Robert Griffin III may be the most exciting football player I have ever seen. The Heisman trophy winner is bright, articulate, personable, fast as lightning and can make all the throws. Seconds after Griffin became the second player taken in the draft, RGIII jerseys, t-shirts and hats began to appear throughout the Redskin nation.
The Redskins feel very strongly that they now have the man under center who can take them to the Promised Land. It will be over three months until Griffin takes a snap, but for Redskin fans, hope springs eternal.