Meet my friend David, everyone. Because he generally writes about baseball, and because I have more than one friend named David who goes by David rather than Dave, I call him “Baseball David,” but he’s here today to write about football and his own experiences as a Washington Redskins fan. I’ve learned at least one new thing from reading this post: the Redskins are the DC — not the Washington state — NFL team, which makes so little sense that I’m going to spend the next hour or so saying, “What the fuck?” out loud. I mean, as racist as naming a team the Redskins is, at least there are some Native Americans in Washington state. Anyway, enough about me. Here’s Baseball David in his cameo on the ‘chine as Football David:
I almost stopped talking to my mother because of a football game a few years ago.
I think we’ve usually had a pretty good relationship, not super close, but we’ve always been good. Growing up, though, for reasons unclear to me now, football was always very important — specifically the Washington Redskins.
One of my earliest memories is of being dropped off at Montessori school in the fall of 1983 and being pissed off a) that the Redskins had lost on Monday Night Football the night before, and b) that I hadn’t been allowed to stay up and watch a game that started at 9 pm. At the end of that season, I cried when my 14-2 Redskins who won the previous Super Bowl got their ass kicked by the L.A. Raiders in Super Bowl XVIII.
The first time I remember hearing the word bullshit was a few years later with my grandfather, and over 50,000 people were chanting it because the ref took away a touchdown from Darrell Green. I suppose that’s one of the things I liked about football — I could be part of a group of thousands with one common desire and a socially acceptable place to chant obscenities when anything went against what we wanted.
Growing up, there were probably five videos I watched constantly. Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, the 1982 NFC Championship Game against the Dallas Cowboys, and Super Bowl XVII — the first one the Redskins won, beating the Miami Dolphins. I was probably 12 before I realized the Nazis had been real and weren’t made up like Darth Vader and his stormtroopers. Right up there with the evil empire and the Nazis were the Dallas Cowboys.
Why are the Cowboys so evil? Texas and Washington, D.C. don’t have much of a geographical rivalry, so maybe it was just the Cowboys and Indians thing. (There was an episode of Quantum Leap in which Sam’s Native American grandfather always rooted for the Redskins because of that.) For about 15 years, the Redskins and Cowboys were also the two best teams in their division, and played each other twice every season — so it was probably mainly started in the early 70′s by Redskins coach George Allen (one of his kids became a Republican Senator and Governor from Virginia, another one just got hired to be the Redskins General Manager). The Cowboys were proclaimed “America’s Team” and had a national following. Redskins fans seemed limited to the DC area, but still more diverse — the mostly black residents of the city uniting with rich politicians and lobbyists and suburbanites (all chanting bullshit).
The Redskins also used to do a celebration after touchdowns, called the Fun Bunch. Basically just guys getting in a circle and jumping up to do a high five. They did that once in Dallas, and the Cowboy players broke it up — and after that the NFL banned on-field celebrations.
Whatever. The Redskins were amazingly good — until I finished middle school. When I was in the 8th grade, they won their third Super Bowl in ten years. Since then they’ve basically sucked — maybe made the playoffs four times in 18 years, had losing records for more than half those years. Through college, I would still watch every second of all 16 games every year. But I gradually felt like they would constantly only play well enough to get my hopes up — and then immediately piss all over them.
Once I moved to New York, I watched fewer games. If they were playing okay, I would sit in a bar for three hours watching a game, having 4 or 5 beers and trying not to yell at the TV. Once the season seemed lost though, I only cared about one thing — just beat the damn Cowboys.
There was a long stretch though where the Redskins lost like a dozen straight games to the Cowboys. One of those, I was watching at my mom’s house and the Redskins were winning for like the whole game, and it seemed like finally they would win one. But then, as they often do, none of the Redskins wanted to tackle and with less than a minute left the Cowboys got a long pass and a touchdown and beat us.
And then my mom said, “I’m glad the Redskins lost.”
It’s not like at that point, with me probably in my mid-20′s, that I didn’t realize I was a complete asshole for caring about who wins a stupid football game. But knowing that I’m stupid for feeling what I feel, somehow doesn’t make me not feel it. Plus, who was the one buying me the Redskins Zubaz pants and matching Zubaz hat, the Starter jacket, the Redskins socks? Who let me go out in public wearing dozens of pieces of Redskins clothing on any given Sunday? If she had a problem with me getting upset over football, maybe she should have said something earlier instead of just hoping I would grow out of it.
I think I was huffy for like an hour and then she apologized. But basically that’s my relationship with football and most sports. I still have an asinine ability to get emotionally invested and super happy or super bummed on the outcome of a game. Even though Nine Deuce once told me I wasn’t an asshole and that she’d want to set me up with one of her friends. I’m pretty sure she was even sober when she said that. (But sorry ladies, I’m taken.)
Still, when I’m not writing for sports humor websites, I try to keep my interest in sports on the down low. I mean, I’ll still get to a game once in a while, but I try to pepper my outbursts with irony. Here are my favorite things to shout that you might want to try as you watch the Super Bowl:
Someone on your team is running with the ball: “Run… Run very fast!”
After good plays: “Proper!” or “That’s very attractive!”