When I was a child the Redskins was more of an event than a team. I remember my dad talking about them as if they were force of nature. I recall my dad’s friends coming over for games and the camaraderie of sharing in the highs and lows. This culminated in the 92 Super Bowl. I was nine and my paternal grandfather had recently died and my dad flew back home to attend the funeral. The game was Jan 26th, my dad’s birthday was the day before. My mom and I went to pick him up from the airport. I remember it was cold and I was bundled up. We had made a sign saying Go Skins Go and Happy Birthday. That Super Bowl, which was also the last the Skins won, will always stay a lasting memory for me.
The very next year Gibbs retired and the Skins had a horrible season. It was just about this time that Michael Jordan and the NBA took over my Fall and Winters. Sure I still watched Skins games but this was the 90s it wasn’t like I had a choice. There wasn’t a local AFC team and everyone was a Skins fan. It was just about watching football. More and more for me it was about seeing the big named players on the other teams. This is was in a time before wall to wall ESPN and the internet. Once I reached high school, Jack Kent Cooke was dead the team had moved out of RFK and I had moved on. I was older and therefore paid more attention. Snyder seemed, on paper, like a good owner. He was a local and really into the team. His first year as owner they went to the playoffs for the first time since their Super Bowl run. This was also the beginning of “who’s the QB?”
In my 20s, Sunday became a reset day where I’d sleep off my Saturday nights so I only ended up seeing either big games or what ever was the 4pm NFC game. As I got older the Skins fans that I knew became more, obnoxious. I’m for smack talk as “I’m better than you” not “You suck”. There is a difference. The Skins weren’t great. So the team wasn’t producing and the fans were insisting that everyone else were crap. Each new fan I met at college parties were people I just couldn’t stand. It wasn’t the regular just root for the home team. I’m speaking about the just will not shut up fan. I’m speaking of the middle of summer asking “Who’s your team” acting offended when I respond with Orioles. If I were to begrudging respond with the Skins they would almost always launch into a ten minute diatribe about the Cowboys, Eagles or Ravens. I try to be polite, and would try to change subjects. I’d say I didn’t care just to get out of the convo. I began just saying I didn’t watch football just to avoid those conversations.
This wasn’t true I still liked football just not the Skins. There was a potential light. The arrival of what many in the DMV called the second coming; Robert Griffin III. I knew of him from my college football viewing, but with the turnstile approach of the team figured he would have a breakout season or two and then end up on another team like so many players in the past. There were talking heads that brought up his knee and how much the team gave up in picks to get him. For what it’s worth he had a great rookie season going 10–6 and winning the NFC East championship. Off the field the team decided to move further away from DC by choosing Richmond for training camp. The following season what can I say? Worst season in almost 20 years. Just as I began to care again.
What I haven’t addressed to this point is the name controversy. It was definitely a deciding factor in why I’ve broken all ties with the Skins. I was already a casual fan. It wasn’t just the name in and of itself. I’ve known since high school that there was people who took issue. It’s not that the name is offensive, which it is, it’s that the owner has over and over given two middle fingers to the Native American community. It was the “Never Ever” statements. It was the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation. This is insulting on a whole new level. People have issue with the name so Snyder attempts to do charity work by naming the organization the politically correct name of original americans but then slaps “Washington Redskins” in front of it. I have to assume he’s doing this on purpose. There’s no way that any publicist would say that was a good idea. He must be surrounded by yes people.
I still like watching football. MLB season is over in October and the NBA really doesn’t pick up until around Christmas day. So what was I to do? I’m not going to root for the Ravens. First, I don’t do purple. Secondly, I’m not rooting for a team that has a history like the Ravens. Finally, NFC > AFC. Then there was the process of elimination. I couldn’t choose another team in the NFC east. The South can do whatever it is they do. What remained was NFC North and West. A big factor was the division rivals. If you follow a team you gotta know their division. Right now The west is the most talked about. Super Bowl champion Seahawks and their rivalry with the 49er is big. The amount of coverage the Rams will get with the drafting of Michael Sam. All solid. Yet no individual team stood out. I was however pulled toward the Lions. The NFC North has a history as the Black and Blue division. The Lions also don’t have a cheerleading squad.. After reading the lawsuits against teams and the NFL, it was a factor. The Lions president Tom Lewand said that they are very comfortable being a team that doesn’t have cheerleaders. I also have a long love for Detroit. Many of my favorite films begin, are set in or end in Detroit. I was already used to the disappointment of the Skins so this seems liked a good fit. They put up good plays. They just hired a new coach Jim Caldwell who worked under John Harbaugh and Tony Dungy. It doesn’t hurt that they have a top 20 QB and running back and one of the best wide receivers currently playing.
In closing I’m sure by making this official, the Skins will have a breakout season or at least do better than the Lions. That’s just my luck. I’ll still feel good in my choice and can’t wait to see how my new adopted team does this season.