“It is a Redskins day, baby.”

Remember this?

A player should be judged on the merits of his accomplishments against those of his contemporaries, not against those who come after him. This is the same situation happening to Art Monk, who spent most of his 15+ years with the Washington Redskins. In 1992, he became the NFL’s All-time Receptions leader, passing Steve Largent. All-time leader. Monk was none too shabby compared to his contemporaries.

… Monk waits for the Hall of Fame call that won’t ring. As for Largent? His career resides in the Hall of Fame.

That call that won’t ring? It rang today for the first man ever to catch 100 passes in a single season. (It also rang for a worthy first-time candidate.):

It was a Hall of Fame day for the Washington Redskins, with Art Monk and Darrell Green elected to the shrine Saturday.

Image from Redskins.com

I already have my tickets for the induction ceremony.

This Day in History: January 31, 1988

Sunday, January 31, 1988. Twenty years ago. I was 14½. My then-youngest brother was 3 days old. And after 15 minutes of Super Bowl XXII, I was concerned, bordering on distraught, as the Redskins were down 10-0 to the Denver Broncos. Then the 2nd Quarter started:

In the first minute of the quarter, Williams connected with wide receiver Ricky Sanders for an 80-yard score. Four minutes later, the quarterback hit wide receiver Gary Clark with a 27-yard touchdown pass. After a 58-yard TD run by running back Timmy Smith, Williams struck again, this time on 50-yard pass to Sanders. The final score of the comeback quarter came on an 8-yard pass to tight end Clint Didier.

That was the greatest 15 minutes of football I ever expect to witness. Doug Williams put on a show. After scoring 35 points in the quarter, the Redskins won 42-10.

NFL Films offers the inexplicably incomplete video It’s bad enough to omit most of the record-breaking 2nd Quarter, but it’s inexcusable to omit Gary Clark’s touchdown. Gary Clark!

This Day in History: January 30, 1983

Sunday, January 30, 1983. Twenty-five years ago. I was 9½ and a die-hard Redskins fan. Still young enough to not realize that we wouldn’t win every year, I was excited that the Redskins faced Miami in Super Bowl XVII. I never expected this, the greatest run ever:

Down 17-13 in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XVII and needing a big play, the Redskins turned once again to running back John Riggins, who had been making big plays for them all season. Washington faced a fourth-and-1 from the Miami 43. After taking a handoff, Riggins broke through the line and rumbled all the way for a touchdown to give Washington its first lead of the game.

Video can be seen here, with every goosebump-inducing second of The Diesel’s touchdown run.

Sports is my outlet for fanaticism.

I lose myself in sports. I’m invested in the Phillies, Redskins, and Hokies far more than is probably sane. I like that I can follow along, enjoy the highs and lows, and pretend that my involvement turns them into we. But I know that none of it matters. There are no consequences. I can still rant about a blown call in the 2000 National Championship game because I know I’m correct and know that it still amounts to nothing without devaluing my enjoyment of the process.

That’s why I’m hoping for a mild, maybe even complete comeback by Hillary Clinton. I think she’ll be a terrible president. She has all the wrong impulses and inclinations. But her lightning rod personality has a chance to create gridlock better than Barack Obama.

Too much of the fawning over Sen. Obama right now borders on fanaticism. Enthusiasm is wonderful, but politics has consequences that matter. Lives are affected, with too many altered for the worse. A mindless search for a Dear Leader will not improve America, even if it’s wrapped in rhetoric of change. Details matter. On those Sen. Obama differs little from Sen. Clinton. Neither is offering much that is sensible.

When General Manager Pat Gillick explains that changes to the Phillies will increase their our chances of winning a championship, I accept that he’s biased. I also look at the evidence and determine if his claim is logical. In those times when I don’t like the evidence, I find ways to spin it. I know I’m being irrational, embracing a dream over logic. I want to believe. That’s okay. Again, there are no real consequences.

When Sen. Obama explains that changes to our government’s policies will increase America’s chances of achieving fairness/growth/whatever, I accept that he’s biased. I also look at the evidence and determine if his claim is logical. I won’t assume that everyone will conclude like me that the evidence demonstrates his claims are illogical. But how many have actually looked at the details? How many can state even one policy he stands for other than “change”? There are real consequences.

I will not cheer Sen. Clinton’s popular vote victory in New Hampshire. I will cheer if it means more people will begin to ask questions to look beyond the empty noise the front-runners offer.

Joe Gibbs Resigns

Consider my response to this news the polar opposite of my joyous response four years ago.

Even though he didn’t achieve the results we all hoped for, I’m thankful for the new memories. Although the Sean Taylor’s death was unacceptably tragic, we were able to remember how Coach Gibbs is great. Some things really are bigger than sports. Still, he allowed Redskins prestige to return. The pieces for success are in place. Someone new (*cough*Bill Cowher*cough*) will have to win with them, but the last four years were far from fruitless.

Thanks, Coach Joe.

We want Dallas! We want Dallas!

It’s “Dallas Week” in Washington, which is a one-week celebration, twice each year when the Redskins play the Cowboys. I despise the Cowboys and everything about them. I don’t care who Tony Romo is dating this week. I don’t care how wonderful Terrell Owens¹ is. I don’t care how this season ranks in the history of seasons in Dallas history. There’s one story line for me: win and we’re in the playoffs.

Obviously there are multiple reasons why this is improbable. Sean Taylor’s death is the largest and longest lingering, of course. The franchise will never be the same. But there’s also the injuries, starting with half the offensive line, and concluding with the loss of quarterback Jason Campbell. Yet, we’re still in position to make the playoffs. For me, there’s one specific reason: Joe Gibbs.

Throughout our recent struggles, many focused on Coach Gibbs’ mistakes. The complaints are valid. But no one is perfect. The point is not that the coach must do everything right. He must be the best person for the job. And Coach Gibbs’ leadership through adversity demonstrates why he’s a Hall of Famer and why he’s still the right man for his job. I will make no calls for his dismissal, now or in the future.

Former Redskin Doc Walker makes the case, via Michael Wilbon’s column:

“They lost the guys who were supposed to be the right side of the offensive line, Jon Jansen and Randy Thomas, essentially for the entire season. Shawn Springs’s father is in a coma and he’s traveling back and forth to see his dad. You’ve got a free agent rookie [Stephon Heyer] starting at right guard. You’ve got the whole team flying to a funeral and playing the Bears three days later. You’ve got your franchise quarterback going down in that very game, then you’ve got the backup quarterback’s wife giving birth . . . on the eve of his first start in 10 years, then coming out and going 0 for 8 but steadying himself to win the game. It’s a movie. We can’t imagine how difficult it is to manage all that. But Joe knows how to manage in the chaos. Go all the way back to his 0-5 start in his very first season as head coach. That was so chaotic. But he believed. Even if you don’t believe initially, he does. And he just doesn’t waver.”

I’ve always believed. Watching him coach through his first tenure made me understand how important it is to not waver in my trust in him. When he took over, the franchise was a mess. We couldn’t win, we had no stability, and the pride in being a Redskin had disappeared. We’re still struggling at times on the first count due to Campbell’s inexperience, although we’re going in the right direction. On the latter two points, there can be no debate that Coach Gibbs has brought those two back to Washington. I’d vote for him for president, if he ran. I’d write his name in next November, except his winning would mean he wouldn’t be head coach of the Redskins any longer. He could do both, though.

In the cruelest misfortune of the week, I had tickets to today’s game. I planned to take my younger brother to the game, his first NFL experience. But I’ve picked up some nasty cold that is not conducive to sitting in rainy 40-degree weather. This team is worth getting sicker for, but I want to be healthy for next week’s showdown with the Seahawks in the playoffs.

If we win, of course. Just win.

¹ He’s so wonderful that he needed to push off the defender – offensive pass interference – to score one of his touchdowns against the Redskins in Dallas. With a referee 10 feet away. That’s official deference to a storyline, not calling the game as it happens. He’s good, but not as good as he’s allowed to be through leaving the yellow flag in the waistband.


It’s easy to become wrapped up in sports outcomes and minutiae beyond what is reasonable. That’s what makes it fun. But the perspective-inducing intersection of that fantasy world and horrible reality is a painful, frustrating price. Two days ago I was angry at the Redskins and Joe Gibbs for losing a winnable game through an ill-advised attempt at a first down when the field goal was the best play. Today, that’s irrelevant. I mourn the death of free safety Sean Taylor in the small, insignificant way I matter in this as a Redskins fan.

(Picture from ESPN)


Trying to Win Versus Trying to Embarrass

Radley Balko on the Patriots thumping the Redskins today:

So did the cheating Patriots really just go for it on 4th and 1 with a 38-point lead halfway through the fourth quarter? And did they really just throw deep while up 45-0?

Is there anyone outside of Boston who will be rooting for these asshats next week?

I will not.

I have no problem accepting or acknowledging that the Patriots kicked our asses. Seriously, the game wasn’t as close as the score indicates, which is ridiculous since the final was 52-7. I don’t even have a problem with scoring when winning 45-0. If the defense can’t stop you, that’s just the way it is. But in the scenario Mr. Balko mentions, the only reasonable action is to kick the field goal. That’s playing the game. Going for it? That’s running up the score.

If I had a Jerk of the Day award, Patriots coach Bill Belichick would win in a landslide.

Catching Up: Sports Edition

The Phillies are finally winning. After a dismal start, we’ve started winning regularly, and sometimes even convincingly, in the last two weeks. Standing at 11 wins this month, we go into tonight’s series opener against the Braves with a better April than the last two years. (Ten wins in each of the previous two Aprils.) Considering how close we’ve been at the finish line the last couple of years, maybe that will be the difference and there will be playoff baseball this October.

It couldn’t have come at a better time, as the Redskins botched this year’s draft. First-round pick¹ LaRon Landry will hopefully become a productive star. His demonstrated talent suggests he will. I hope so, as a fan, but he is not what we needed. I understand the desire to draft talent, but we have a gaping hole in our defense on the line. The Redskins brain trust should’ve addressed this early and often over the weekend. At least Landry will get to showcase his talents when the other teams have infinite time after every snap to find open receivers.

¹ We whiffed on the few remaining picks we had, as well.