Ask any person who has been to FedEx Field what irks them about the gameday experience, and they might mention the ticket prices, the overpriced beer, or maybe the lack of intimacy that RFK enjoyed. I would suggest, however, that one response would trump them all: "what's up with the 1970's video screens?"
The screens weren't just outdated. They were incapable of displaying multiple images, delayed real-time video, and appeared to be made of 10,000 giant Lite Brite pegs. Three-fifths of the useful area was made up of advertising and another fifth was used for the current score/occasional spinning Redskins symbol. (In more giant Lite Brite pegs.) They were, even by 1990s standards, embarrassing.
For those unfamiliar with the utter wackness of the screens, I present the following, a picture I took at the NFL Kickoff in 1997. And yes, that's Britney Spears.
So I was particularly pleased to hear a few months ago that, just in time for the new NFL season, Daniel Snyder has upgraded the FedEx monitors to...modern standards. The new video screens look a little something like this (but with less attractive ads on the sides):
Wonderful. Now fans can actually see the screen from multiple angles, read down and distance information along the bottom, and enjoy football at the other end of the field. Just like Baltimore has been doing for years now. At least now the fans get called "sir" when they enter and leave.
Although we got to preview the screens during the preseason and Monday's Boise State/Virginia Tech thriller, the big debut is Sunday night when the Skins face Dallas on Sunday Night Football.
So I got to thinking: what would I show on the screens, to simultaneously launch this exciting new season, show off the vibrant screens, and humiliate the Cowchips?
There were many choices, but I hereby present my Top Ten Images to Show on Sunday Night:
1. Open with this picture of the Redskins faithful, watching a game that had nothing to do with Dallas. That's called staying on message. (Make sure to fire up the old "Hail to the Redskins" rendition that sounds like it was recorded by Jack Kent Cooke's old buddies.)
2. Russ Grimm's Hall of Fame introduction, particularly the lovely portion where Joe Bugel describes cramming "50 Gut" down the throat of Dallas' Randy White ten straight times.
3. Celebrated Dallas coach Jimmy "Mini" Johnson's Extense commercial. What next in his "I'm still in my physical prime after 65" tour, a stint on a ridiculous reality competition? Uh, nevermind. You really can't make this stuff up.
4. For a taste of a time when a rivalry meant something: this piece from the NFL Network's Top 10 show. It's, essentially, cliff's notes on former Redskins coach George Allen's obsessive hatred of everything Dallas. "Forty men together can't lose!" is his now-famous quote. Boys and girls, that's leadership.
5. Terrell Owens crying about "my team..my quarterback..." Tony Romo. I know he's not on team. But can you resist the pure hilarity of T.O. weeping about the press not being fair, in front of a wall of blue Cowchip stars, all over Tony Romo? I dare a stadium full of people not to watch and smile.
6. And why not: a 1200-inch diagonal picture of Chris Cooley mocking an unsuspecting Jason Witten at the Pro Bowl. Juvenile? Sure. Funny? Yep.
7. Landon Donovan's goal in the World Cup. Yes, it's not "football," as we Americans know it. But for inspiration's sake, I always get goosebumps when I hear Ian Clarke's enthusiastic "Goal, goal, USA! Oh, it's incredible!" It's more proof for the Redskins that with perseverance, anything's possible. It helps even more when your opponent is Algeria.
8. Tony Romo boldly announcing a Cowchip home Superbowl at a summer Dallas pep rally. (See the one minute mark if you'd prefer to skip as much viewing of Babe Laufenberg's beard as possible.) That'll fire up the Washington faithful. I'd let the video continue for a moment, if only to show Dallas' hotshot rookie Dez Bryant dancing...days before he sprained his ankle.
9. This montage of two modern-era Redskins miracle wins over Dallas. I'm particularly proud to say I attended the second game and saw Sean Taylor run back the field goal. ...And add a Wilhelm Scream to Roy Williams while you're at it.
10. And finally, in big, bold, high-definition letters: WE WANT DALLAS.
After that, it's time to play football. Now how can I get this list in Snyder's hands...hmm...