Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Un. Be. Lievable.

It is just past 1:30AM, and I cannot sleep.

I may have soiled myself just over an hour ago.

At one point, I was on the verge of tears.

And yet I cannot stop smiling.

Forgive me, this is going to be just a rambling, fan-wanking gush-fest of Redskins love.

We have beaten the Cowboys. In Dallas. When it mattered.

So much for entering Aikman, Irvin, and Smith into the Cowchip Ring-Ding of Honor, eh? I'm sure this is a day that Dallas fans will not forget for a long, long time. For all the wrong reasons.

So much for Bill Parcels and his 77-0 winning streak when leading by 13+ points in the fourth quarter, too. And sayonara to Washington being the only team not to score a touchdown this year. And we can forget MNF's stat (where do they get these things?) that Washington can't win when losing entering the final period.

So much for Madden's prediction that "the team that makes the first big play will win this game." Thanks for your vote of confidence, John. And yes, we all heard you do a complete 180 when Moss caught his second touchdown, saying "these Redskins just hung in there and never gave up..." Thanks for the late love.

Wow. I have so much more to discuss, such as my original title for this piece, "Grand Theft Offense," the play of Brunell, the play of Santana "Speed Kills" Moss, the gutsy bend-not-break of Gregg Williams' offense, the joy of soaking in this moment for the next two weeks...

Dallas' defense choked like the 2004 Yankees, allowing a team that had the guts to keep fighting back into a contest. Roy Williams, you had a brilliant 58 minutes. But it's th
ose two minutes when you were torched that have me wondering--how do you get beat on the exact same play for touchdowns? Mere moments after each other? How do you let any receiver get beyond you when you know Washington has to score six points? Oh, to be in on the Dallas team meeting tonight.

Look at how close that Cowchip defender is to intercepting or disrupting that pass play. For years now, Washington fans have felt that we've been star-crossed, destined, and cursed to lose to "America's Team." Few expected the Redskins to be competitive, much less succeed. Heck, after three periods I was prepared to go home and begin to forget the whole sorry episode.

It was if it was meant to be. When I look at Moss' catches, and the needle that was threaded in sheer desperation, I see that it we were supposed to be the victors on this night. Finally, God winked our way.

And that makes for happy Redskins fans all across the nation. It's now after 2AM. I think I can now get to bed where my very patient (and Dallas-biased) wife has already retired.

I assure you my dreams will be most peaceful, dipped in burgundy and gold.

Go Skins.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Ballad of Patrick Ramsey

By now everyone knows of the demotion of the Pharaoh Ramsey. Oy, it hurt. While it remains to be seen whether it is the right choice for Washington, what is clear is that it was a choice poorly timed and insensitively made. At least, that's what I'm arguing over at Hog Heaven.

I had originally considered writing this to the tune of Prince's "Alphabet Street" or Van Halen's "Panama," but time constraints proved prohibitive. So, with apologies to Robert Frost, e. e. cummings and Chuck D, I present


This is the Ballad of Ramsey
star of the school Tulane
Of how his star was the brightest
now dim and ne'er the same

'02 the Skins drafted Patrick
his strong right arm the news
He spent his time subbing Wuerffel
worse only to Shane Matthews

'03 he started for Spurrier
("offensive architect")
The Fun 'n Gun's glaring weakness
was that it didn't protect

Oh! were the hits from the Eagles and
Cowboys and Bills and Bucs!
But Ramsey not once complained, tho'
it clear the offense sucked

Poor Ramsey was left to flounder
slow rising from his sacks;
Writers pitied this young hero
often getting shellacked

His Joeness returned in '04
new hope began to swell;
Fo'ty million later, who should start
but past-his-time Brunell!

So Ramsey again sat sidelined,
losses began to mount;
Returned Week 10 'cuz Mark's rating's
too low to even count

Coach Gibbs was quite impressed with him
"He starts for us next year!"
But post-draft day some wondered if
his promise was sincere

"Ramsey's our guy" the coach assured,
sanguine in his stance;
but truth be told, his words were cold
he never had a chance

The leash was decept'vely short
fair shake it didn't approach;
how apt to be blindsided by
the man he called his coach?

So now he knows, his time draws close
the faith in him shown lack;
not what it seems, this thing called team
Godspeed and don't look back.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Perchance to Dream

by Jeff Jones

Chicago 7, Washington 9

I count myself very fortunate to be able to attend some of this season's games at near ground level in the Dream Seat section of FedEx Field. Thanks to the suspiciously manipulative pecuniary vision of Daniel Snyder, the Redskins' stadium now has a row of seats so close to the end zone that fans can confirm which cheerleader needs to do more crunches and accurately guess which deoderant the opposing players are using. (I salute you, Right Guard.) When the players turn to exhort the crowd, they aren't gazing up at Section 440. They're looking right at you.

Sunday I got my first taste of the very-good life, courtesy my Pops. We've enjoyed games during the last four years in various places at FedEx, from the rafters (where our hot chocolate froze one November day) to the Loge level (with its carpeted, leather-seated, plasmas-in-the-lobby experience). I am indebted to ol' Pops for enduring the waiting list since the RFK days and making the financial sacrifice--which increases by 5% annually--to grab better seats when available. In honor of him, I have already decided to keep the tickets in the family for generations. Not that I'm, y'know, rushing Pops or anything.

For my dollar, the best time to attend a Redskins game is early in the season, when the weather's comfortable, the teams are fresh, and the Skins haven't taken themselves out of playoff contention. (So, by "early in the season" I mean September.) And there is something even more magical about attending the Season Kickoff; in the past Snyder has made sure to dazzle the crowd with costly pyrotechnics, military flyovers, and, um, Britney Spears.

Sunday's Pop Icon Performance was from the saccharine duo of Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey, who belted out "America the Beautiful" backed up by No Name Band #6. Unlike Mrs. Spears, the couple actually appeared in person at the stadium...and promptly ducked out after the song's final bars. This left us with the disappointing announcement that the one and only Roy Firestone would be singing the national anthem. I must not have been the only person thinking "wasn't Roy the anchor of the first season of ESPN's "Outside the Lines" or something?" because at halftime the stadium announcer reminded us that Firestone is a platinum-selling, Grammy-winning artist. Ohhhh. That Roy Firestone.

Early in the afternoon, my section was dismayed to learn from our preteen Food Maven that both ketchup and mustard were no longer available. Honestly, how does an entire stadium run out of two major condiments on the first regular season game in the first quarter? Were the fans that hungry? People are paying over a thousand bucks for seats and the stadium staff can't run to Giant for a couple bottles of Heinz?

(Speaking of food, to cleanse my mouth of a lead-based hot dog and sun-warmed Coke, I enjoyed a piece of tropical fruit Trident. On the ingredients panel, there is a prominently displayed, bold-face pronouncement: Phenylketonurics: Contains Phenylalanine. Does more than 3% of the total United States population have any clue what two of those three words mean? Trident is still gum, right? Somebody needs to look into this. Meanwhile I'll just keep enjoying this long-lasting, rich mango flavor.)

There are some distinct drawbacks to attending games at FedEx Field, and they do detract from the gameday experience. First and foremost, ticket prices are stupendously high...but as my Pops mentioned before kickoff, "every time I think these seats cost too much, I come to a game and change my mind." Second, they never show enough replays on the jumbo screens. Instead of showing us replays after turnovers, we go straight to the same hospital, courier, and airline commercials they've been feeding us for years. You know how the fans knew what happened to Ramsey or Portis' yardage on the day? We listened to the radio after the game.

By the way, this is where the Ravens' M&T Bank Stadium clearly trounces FedEx--their screens are roughly three times the size of Washington's and the clarity is so much better, it's like laser printer vs. dot matrix. If that's not bad enough, the Baltimore fans get to see the down, yardage, and other stats right there on the same screen (you know, like they've been doing on television for the last 25 years). So their fans got to watch their team lay a prime-time stinkbomb Sunday night in high-definition!

There are moments, though, when there is nothing better than sitting in that stadium. When the Bears began their final, game-winning drive, they committed an incomprehensible three false start penalties in a row. With every mistake, the noise level grew. One play later, they turned the ball over and the game was effectively sealed. This huge change in momentum wasn't the result of the Washington defense's pre-snap shifts, nor that the Bears offensive line suddenly turned timid. It was me and 91,000 of my closest allies who together created a cacophony that prevented Chicago from performing the most basic of tasks.

That, dear friends, is why you go to the game: to say I was there, and I'll never forget the experience.

Lord willing I'll be in Section 30 on October 2, sipping hot soda, yelling myself hoarse and dreaming that I and my Redskins can go home victorious, singing "Hail to the Redskins" loudly, mumbling the lyrics, and off-key. Doesn't get much better than that.

For my game review, check out Hog Heaven soon!