Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Great Redskins Panic

Hurrying his own end

This is how it will be remembered: It came and no one was prepared. It threatens to destroy everything near and dear to a whole society of wealthy and entitled athletes.

Like the zombie apocalypse we ignored until it was right upon us, consuming all of humanity, the Redskins have been cornered by a large and growing swarm of zombie fans, unstoppable and inexorable with a single minded hunger for good football.

At first it was just a moaning in the background, the voices of a few strays. But then it got bigger and the team never noticed it growing right in their back yard.

Add 200 million dollars to what was already an elite defensive unit, generating marginal improvement and the team never noticed.

Ignore the aging tackle positions in a draft chock full of blue chip offensive tackles in the first round and the team never noticed.

Take the field for the 2009 season with a paper thin and expensive offensive line then not have backup at the ready and the team never noticed.

Show no marked improvement over 2008, suffer from weak playcalling and poor run blocking and the team never noticed.

Then it happened. Against the Rams, the Redskins players looked up in surprise as all around them were zombie fans, supplanting healthy fans, deafening the players, booing weak performance, booing red zone ineffectiveness, booing a win sealed by a defensive play against an inferior foe.

Much of the team was not ready for it, in fact they seemed to have no idea how it could have happened.

Linebacker Robert Henson, a rookie who is pretty damn lucky to be on the team, unleashed a torrent on Twitter after the Rams game, calling Redskins fans fake, half hearted dim wits and admitting he dislikes us very strongly. For some reason he also was quite condescending toward those Redskins fans with wage grade jobs, presumably he means to imply his six figure salary at such a tender age makes him a more worthy member of society.

The zombie fan apocalypse knows no economic class.

Like a number of other players on the team, some of whom have lived through a zombie fan breakout in the past, such as during all of the 2006 season, 2007's 0-4 streak and 2008's 2-6 stretch run, Robert did not realize this behavior, and it only serves to create more zombie fans.

Tight end Chris Cooley, a six year veteran who should know better, scolded fans like their grandmother, he thought the booing was quote a shame unquote and that it was, to put it delicately, unnecessary. So comfortable is Chris in his life in the spotlight that he has forgotten zombie fans do not respond to scolding.

Receiver Antwaan Randle El, in his fourth season with the team and having suffered through 2006's 5-11 zombie fan onslaught said the team plays better when the fans do not boo (op. cit.), this sounds vaguely scientific, perhaps Antwaan is experimenting with ways to convert zombie fans back to healthy fan status, or perhaps into a food supply. Caught up in the optimism of the laboratory, Antwaan cannot bring himself to admit science is years or decades away from providing a cure outside nature's cure, good football.

A few players showed their experience, equipped to handle a zombie fan outbreak. Defensive end Phillip Daniels understands the booing, he knows the fans do not want to be zombie fans. Cornerback Fred Smoot agreed the fans should have booed (both ibid.). DeAngelo Hall, perhaps revealing a spiritual side, spoke of the team deserving their fate, as if the years of ignoring of the growing zombie fan threat were going to be repaid tenfold with a purge of biblical proportions.

Other players were more nihilistic, not committed to the end, not committed to survival. Fullback Mike Sellers, receiver Santana Moss and center Casey Rabach all reflected on the zombie fan as part of NFL life (op. cit.), the zombie fan can only be managed, never fully eradicated.

Slowly the team is coming around. Robert apologized for his actions (op. cit.), it may be a mute plea to an undead killer, only time will tell if Robert will be stricken with his own personal and career long zombie fan outbreak.

But it might be too late. Every weak performance will only fuel the flames of the zombie fan. There were thousands of empty seats at the Redskins home opener on a beautiful day for football.

Rumors, murmurs can be heard in the background about Redskins season tickets. What will it do to the zombie infestation when it is discovered the Redskins season ticket waiting list is in fact not twenty years but rather the twenty minutes it takes for some stressed out team ticket sales rep to pull your name off an email?

The end of football days is not yet here for the Redskins, but it is closer than it has ever been. In the distance, in the haze of burning cities of football fortune, I think I see Cincinnati and Oakland, they might be coming to claim Washington as one of their own zombie football towns.

Screencap of Robert Henson's moment of clarity from here.