Outside looking in
*Sigh* I've been downgraded.
At first I thought it was just one level, from superfan to fan.
Later though I realized I have no idea what is happening with the 2011 Redskins and who plays for them. Barry Cofield is the last addition I remember.
Tim Hightower? You mean the guy from Arizona with the fumbling problem? Donte Stallworth? Isn't he the guy that ran a guy over in Florida?
Nope, don't know any of them, not the draft picks, not the post lockout pickups. That is when I realized my downgrade was a two level demotion, from superfan through fan straight to casual fan. There is only one level left below me now, observer, before sweet football oblivion.
And I do not even care. I was already mad at the team for botching the post Joe Gibbs transition, sandbagging Gregg Williams from the job by trumping up some bullshit story about betraying coach Gibbs over the Missing Man Formation after Sean Taylor's death, note carefully here that Gregg Williams IS NOT the guy I thought should have the job.
Dan Snyder then promptly turned the team over to the one guy everyone knew could not manage his way out of a paper bag, shadow general manager Vinny Cerrato, they wait around for a top shelf candidate that was never coming and promote Jim Zorn, the coordinator they had stupidly hired before a head coach, as the candidate of last resort.
The team then spent two years eating itself as Vinny tried the old dodge where he was responsible for hiring coach Zorn but not for his results, those two stopped speaking, then Dan soured and fired Vinny then fired Zorn on the plane ride home from the last game.
In come these two football professionals, general manager Bruce Allen and head coach Mike Shanahan, both of whom have great football pedigrees, their first move? To trade two picks to a Division rival for a perennial Pro Bowl quarterback they can count on for a couple of seasons until they get the offense where they want it.
But they don't do that. Instead they nitpick Donovan McNabb's footwork and practice ethic after the guy had only been to six Pro Bowls, won five Division titles, been to five Conference Championships and one Super Bowl, while not giving him any new targets to throw at and utterly failing to plan at the tailback position.
And in so doing squander an opportunity to install and stabilize a new offense and develop young players by focusing like a laser beam on how this guy that has been successful his whole career is just not perfect for us. Wah fucking wah.
Donovan had to be sacrificed because the Shanahans can do no wrong, that is axiomatic.
Meanwhile over on the other side of the ball Jim Haslett was busy destroying a perennial top ten defense, one with experienced players and a history of savvy coaches that could flex with talent, forcing the switch from an historical 4-3 to the more trendy 3-4. Players were moved into new positions and out of places where they had performed well for years.
And in so doing squander an opportunity to maintain some continuity in what is historically the best part of the team while a new offense can be installed and stabilized.
Too many variables in play, too many plates in the air.
And so the result of that 2010 season was an unmitigated disaster, one in which those two picks for Donovan were squandered to the Eagles, Donovan was benched and dragged under the bus, those Eagles, Donovan's former team, went for 59 on Monday Night Football, the night the team announced Donovan's quote contract extension unquote. Three games later Donovan was benched for the rest of the year.
That's just the stuff in the game. Off the field the team was busy pushing fans away as well.
The owner is suing newspapers. All these years and the guy cannot just sit back and let the football do the talking.
They ripped out ten thousand seats from Redskins Stadium, the somewhat absurd plan announced at the time was to create standing room only party decks, yet now that the seats have been ripped out along with supporting sections of upper deck concrete, and construction on no decks has begun, it seems transparently obvious to me that the team has no intention of building decks, that removing seats was all about reducing capacity because people are not renewing tickets and no one is there to buy them in replacement. As anyone that has read this blog or listened to me over the past decade will tell you, the million mile long season ticket waiting list simply does not exist.
Sure ticket prices did not go up, thank you Mr. Snyder sir, a beer bought at your seat is now nine bucks.
And I did not even mention Albert Haynesworth. Until just now.
The season then ended and the lockout began, two greedy camps, owners and players, arguing nakedly right in front of you over who should have more of your money, in all the negotiations, the recriminations and pontifications, which party was not at the negotiating table for those six months? You. And then the lockout, after a summer of grim warnings of ZOMG NO FOTOBALL IN 2011!!!1!! just COINCIDENTALLY happens to end right as training camps were to open, the only game that was lost to the whole drama? Yep, the Hall of Fame Game, the one played in a neutral stadium where no one gets guaranteed ticket revenues.
So now, after the players did not work out all summer while coaches could still meet and overthink their gameplans, after a hurried free agent period of extreme player movement, do you really think we are set to see quality football in the NFL before Thanksgiving?
Going to be a sloppy season.
And so I went poof and that was it, I have not had the energy to put pen to paper for this blog since February 2011, and that was for a 2008 story. In the offseason I found other things to occupy my time:
I coached my sons' lacrosse team, the under-nine Fort Hunt Purple Pelicans, we went 2-5-1 with nine rookies on a thirteen man roster, we peaked at the end of the season and I expect we will improve heading into the 2012 season.
I also watched a crapload of college lacrosse including my alma mater the University of Virginia winning their fifth national championship.
I bought a decent bicycle and recommitted to bike commuting, my ride is twelve miles each way each day, I logged 1242 miles on the road from the start of the lockout to the end. My wife also bought a road bike and now we go on vacations based on where and how far we can ride. I have not lost any weight but all my dimensions have changed and I look a hell of a lot better.
I also spent another crapload of time watching Grand Tour bicycle racing, the Tour de France and currently the Vuelta a Espana, I missed the Giro d'Italia because it was during lacrosse season.
I bought a bunch of bicycle tools and taught myself bicycle maintenance, many summer nights I would have spent writing about football, instead I spent in the shed with Tony Almeida refurbing old bikes, I have tuned up all five operating bikes we own, rebuilt two others from the hubs up and have three in queue for complete refurb. Just last night I FINALLY finished my first bartape job. Ever try wrapping bartape on a drop handlebar? To do it right is a fucking bitch.
Now I am working on a public policy slash advocacy project to increase bicycling's profile in the nation's capital. Maybe someday I can ride my bike to a Redskins game.
So yeah, while football was forgetting about me, I was forgetting about it.
And then when it came back, I was not one of those guys in a forgiving mood. All the league apparatus cared and care about was getting back to status quo AND FAST! Do you read the papers or listen to sports talk radio or even the league owned Sirius NFL Radio? Do you ever hear about the lockout and what it meant and means to football this season? Of course not, it is not in anyone's interest to dwell, have you seen the NFL commercial that's all like, It's Back to Football?
So that brings us to the 2011 Redskins season, I did not follow the post lockout frenzy of signings or training camp, I watched some of the Colts preseason game and also one other one that was on in the background at a party, I think they won that one too, I missed final cuts and read with a yawn that Rex Grossman was the guy over John Beck, the shrieking ExtremeSkins fanboys will be calling for Becks within four games. I may even be at a preschool open house when the Redskins kick off against the Giants on Sunday afternoon.
So here is where I say thank you for all the emails, comments and text messages wondering where Curly R has been all offseason, to everyone reading this, I am not signing off. Curly R is not gone, it is, has been and forever will be, my creation and my outlet, all I ever wanted out of Curly R was to be a part of the discussion, to help make the Redskins a better football team. Over the past five years I have learned a lot about football and I am grateful for every pageview, every comment and every email.
Five years and I do not think the team really wants to get better. Maybe they do and this Bruce Allen slash Mike Shanahan regime will hit an upswing, it will not happen this year, I am looking at a 5-11 to 8-8 record AT BEST this season, another season with temporary players in key positions.
Curly R is not gone, it just has nothing to say right now, superfans have blogs, casual fans do not. As any Redskins fan over the past two decades can tell you, winning is not the only thing that draws fans to a team, what draws fans to a team is the feeling that their emotional investment is rewarded with smart football people making good decisions for both the short term and long term health and success of the team. We all know Dan Snyder does not own the team, we do, Dan is just the steward.
When the Redskins and football win me back, you will see Curly R back to daily posting. Do you hear that guys?
Win me back.
Photo by me.