Knightingale: My NFL history


She asks me nicely to guest star on her blog with a blog post of my own.

“Come write a guest entry on my Blog site!” she says.

And as a supportive partner I agree and then plonk myself in front of the keyboard of my computer.

But alas I’m not a Packers Princess, I don’t even support the team from Green Bay.  The team I support has a glorious past, a disappointing present and a team name steeped in controversy.

The Washington Redskins are the team I have supported for 31 years.

Since 1984.


SBXVIII

Superbowl XVIII was the first American Football game I ever watched.  Why did I watch it?  No idea.  That reason is lost in the murky swirling mists of time.

I only picked them as red was my favourite colour and they lost that game to the Raiders.  But I have stayed loyal since then and all I know is that I’ve been a ‘Skins fan longer than Packers Princess has been alive, So while she is learning all these things anew about the sport and experiencing the highs and lows that being a football fan can provide, I’ve been through the wringer more times than I can remember clearly.

It’s a painful time for the Redskins fan these days.

I’m not going to go into the politics of the name, I’m resigned to the fact that probably sooner rather than later a name change will happen.  That’s ok with me as long as they pick something half decent.

No… it’s more that fact that as a team we have spent the last 20 years sliding into mediocrity that I have trouble seeing a way out of.

Now I’ve just recently watched Packers Princess witness the gut punch of the Packers loss to the Seahawks in the NFC Conference Finals.  I watched the heartbreak of the collapse and I recognised the feeling.  If you’re a football fan then you’ll know the feeling too.  It’s the nature of the sport and the thing that keeps us coming back to the games over and over again.  Doesn’t matter how many times that our teams break our heart, our love is unconditional.

It’s not just American Football either.  It’s all sports.

I think it’s the ‘Fairytale’ factor.

Yes, very often there is a favourite and an underdog and in a lot of instances the favourite will win.  But…  There is that one small chance that something else will happen…  You literally never know what is going to happen from one minute to the next.  Sometimes it’s great and lifts you to a high you never thought possible and sometimes it’s the worst kind of low.

Case in point the Packers NFC Conference Final game.  For any Packers fan it was an amazing high followed by an unexpected and crushing low.  For the Seahawks fans the total reverse.  The Seahawks could not have played worse and then…. They won.  In all honesty with 5 minutes to go in that game would even the most ardent Seahawks fan have believed that they could win it?

What Packers Princess felt in that game I felt most recently in 2012.

And it was the Seahawks again that provided it.

The Skins hadn’t been good for decades, not seriously good anyhow.  Sure we had had the odd blip, but suddenly in 2012 everything seemed to be turning around.  I hadn’t been that excited to be a fan of the Burgundy and Gold in years.  We had an exciting new Quarterback in RGIII and a fantastic new Running Back in Alfred Morris.  We had started slow that year but boy had we finished strong!

Going into our Bye week we were 3-6.

Coming out of it we won 7 in a row and finished a STRONG 10-6.

We won the division and we were going to the playoffs.  As the NFC East we had a showdown in round 1 with the Wildcard Seattle Seahawks.  We were confident and riding high on our win streak.

Game starts and with 10 mins to go in the first Quarter RGII throws a TD strike to Evan Royster.  ‘Skins are up 7-0

7 ½ minutes later he threw another TD pass to Logan Paulson.  Redskins are up 14-0

But…  RGIII is hurt.  He’s badly hurt.  He can’t run, he can’t move properly.  He can’t play.

And the ‘Skins keep him in.

Rarely has a 14-0 lead felt so bad.  The Seahawks start to come back, first a field goal, then a touchdown and then another field goal.  Between every scoring drive the ‘Skins fans get to witness RGIII struggle desperately and we’re all begging Shanahan to pull him from the game.

At half time we still have a 14-13 lead and this persists through the 3rd quarter as we hang on.

Then with a little over 7 mins remaining in the 4th, Lynch rumbles into the end zone to take the lead by 5.  A 2 point conversion later and they are a touchdown in front.

RGIII takes to the field.  He’s in the Shotgun already to avoid stress on his knee but it’s a bad snap and as he twists to get the ball his knee buckles.  His pain is mirrored by my own.  Watching him go down like that every Redskin fan knows that our season is over and more than that we’re all worried that our star quarterback of the future is very broken.

Two years later and RGIII has never recovered and neither have the Redskins.  We’re back to stumbling along from disaster to disaster and being irrelevant on the NFL landscape.

But…

We as fans still have the hope.

RGIII could come back next year and show his 2012 form.  It can’t have been a fluke year could it?

We’ve got new coaches and new GM’s.  We’ve got our draft picks this year.  Our players will be one year into a new system.  They’ll know if much better, they’ll play much better.

That’s the hope.

Because on ANY GIVEN SUNDAY anything can happen and sometimes it does.

And this is why we love sport.

The lows are terrible and they suck like the suckiest thing that ever sucked.

But sometimes miracles happen.  Sometimes there is that amazing game (like 2014’s highspot for the Redskins when we went into Dallas with our 3rd string QB and we beat them!) or maybe just an amazing play or performance.  And it might just be the season where our team turns the corner and heralds in a glorious new era.

We know the sport is cyclical.  Teams rise and teams fall and sooner or later we’ll be back at the top of the wheel surely?

Football is part good management, part good luck.

So Packers fans, enjoy the ride while it lasts.  You were lucky to have Brett Favre and then follow that up with Aaron Rodgers, probably the best QB in the league.  And you have Mike McCarthy who, while he showed some flaws in the Conference Title game, is still a darned good Coach.

But they’re not going to be around forever and someday in the future both will be gone from your team.  Hopefully you’ll find another great coach and another great QB… but it’s not easy.  There are 31 other teams in the NFL all looking for the same thing.

Including the team in Burgundy and Gold based in Washington.

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