Tom Boswell captures it:
The reason Washington remains an NFL economic powerhouse and a perennial threat to (someday) field a team worthy of its elephantine payroll is the rare combination of patience and enthusiasm shown by its supporters.Why do we care? Because 'the Redskins' isn't just a football team. It's a story, with chapters and cliffhangers aka soap opera for men but WWE is a crude crude imitation of the real life drama and high stakes of NFL football and the Redskins.
First, we are football fans. With no true appreciation for the underlying medium of the sport, there can be no real evaluation of the product as it relates to the story. However you came to be a Redskins observer, whether lifetime fan, DC relocation or general football fan, the principle lies in the enjoyment of watching uniformly dressed individuals play a game. Whether you got that from the Redskins themselves or another organized team is moot. You are a host candidate, like a college student with no afternoon classes getting hooked on Days of Our Lives.
As Jerry Seinfeld once said, we're just rooting for the laundry, so for there to be a real attachment, there has to be something there besides just the football product. The Redskins are one of the longest-running stories in the whole genre with one bitter relocation, some of the greatest teams there ever were, a racist owner that had to be ordered to integrate the team by the federal government and later lost his mind, a long stagnant period riding the early glory, an new owner committed to winning, Vince Lombardi, a newer owner that took a steeper arc toward winning and teams that would win even when the opponent knew exactly what they would do.
Meanwhile because the product was good no one cared that the owner's trophy wife, an admitted drug dealer fighting deportation through most of the late 80s and early 90s, was running around Georgetown with a man 10 years her junior at night so she could tolerate her days with a husband 40 years her senior. Or that the owner's family was so drenched in cocaine that they actually shot guns at each other. That Jack Kent Cooke moved the team to Maryland is something few Redskins fans are happy about but many will also laugh with a kind of pride that JKC had the stones to tell the corrupt and inept DC government to fuck off. The Redskins bow to no high authority.
Now, as the Dan Snyder era continues to spiral down into total chaos, Redskins fans find themselves as they were back in the 50s and 60s: a popular team with an inconsistent product riding the glory of an earlier period. History tells us we already know everything about the owner after six years, that he is what he will be, and Redskins fans, never slow to boo or stay at home on gameday (though those empty seats are paid for), have to wait it out and hope a new owner comes in some day and makes a new commitment to winning. Until then, we'll have to settle for poking loud and hard fun at an organization that exists for our amusement. Dan Snyder may be the guy with the keys, but he's just the steward. The Redskins belong to us.
George Preston Marshall: Pro Football Hall of Fame
Edward Bennett Williams: Wikimedia
Jack Kent Cooke: Washington Post
JKC & Marlene: Washington Life
Dan Snyder: sell the team