Some people seem to be born into a profession. Everyone knows the type. We have all known people who are third generation doctors and fourth generation servicemen. We all know someone like this.
I also was born into a proud tradition. One not as lucrative or respectable as being a doctor or lawyer, but I am proud of it just the same.
I am a second generation Redskin fan.
My father was a die hard redskin fan who somehow managed to get along with my mother’s family, who were all Giant fans (my grandfather taught me another fine tradition: gambling. We bet on all Giant /Redskin games from the time I was three). There are pictures floating around my parent’s house of me with a Redskin jumper sitting on my dad’s knee at the advanced age of one watching Joe Gibb’s first season as coach.
Most people don’t retain memories before the age of four or five. I have a vivid recollection of my first memory. My dad’s boss had given him two tickets to see the ‘84 Superbowl between the Raiders and Redskins. I was excited………until I realized he was taking my mom to California to watch the game instead of me. I had to stay with Grandma and Grandpa Giant.
It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. If I had gone and watched the Redskins get humiliated in the Superbowl before a 95% Raider crowd I would have looked like that little kid after the Duke /Maryland game that is so famously pictured crying in his dad’s arms, while his dad looks like he just had an accident in his pants. Instead I got to cry at home, where at least no one was snapping pictures.
Despite his lousy performance against the Raiders I was a huge Joe Theismann fan. My father was too. We have a porcelain Theismann Christmas tree ornament that we hang on the tree every year. It’s become a tradition.
I mention this because a funny thing happened to this ornament. In 1985, about a month after Lawrence Taylor gave Theismann an extra knee joint halfway down his shin, we began putting up our Christmas decorations. Somehow the Theismann ornament fell as we were taking it out of storage and it broke the same leg that he had just broken in real life. My father and I saw the irony immediately.
My dad super glued the leg back onto his body and our injured hero went back on the tree, where he will be this Christmas and every one after. Unfortunately for the Redskins it proved to be much more difficult to glue the real Joe Theismann’s leg back together. The injury would end his career.
Despite this setback the Redskins were just beginning their golden era. They would go on to three more NFC championship games and win two more Superbowls. Many Redskin fans agree that Riggo’s run in the ‘83 Superbowl was the greatest moment in franchise history. While it may be more important historically, the game that holds the fondest memories for me was the Redskins/Broncos Superbowl in 1988.
My parents used to go to a Superbowl party at their friends house and I used to go with them. My memory is a bit hazy, but I don’t remember any other kids at these parties. They had a pool for the game that was broken down by points during each quarter. I remember the safety during the Bears/Patriots game two years before that gave me the winning point total for that quarter.
I would like to say I won the pool during the Redskin/Broncos Superbowl by predicting Doug Williams’ glorious second quarter, but I don’t think Williams himself could have predicted the turn of events that took place.
Most of the guests at this party were Steelers fans. For some reason they had an AFC loyalty and were pulling for Elway and the Broncos. When Denver jumped out to a commanding 10-0 lead there was a lot of hooting and hollering. I cringed when Williams hyper extended his knee and had to leave the game momentarily. I was having flashbacks of Joe Theismann’s career ender just two years before.
The injury did not end Doug Williams’ career that day, however. When he returned during the next series he led the Redskins to the greatest one quarter performance in Superbowl history. Thirty five points later you would have been able to hear a pin drop at that party. At least you would have if that annoying eight year old kid would have stopped bouncing up and down and screaming. I’m sure a few of the adults did not appreciate being taunted by an obnoxious kid while their team was getting steamrolled, but I was oblivious.
The recent history of the Redskins has not been nearly as exciting as their Superbowl era. I must admit that being a Redskin fan sometimes makes me feel like a battered wife. I know that they will probably disappoint me but I go back to them every year. Even after the black eye they gave me last year I still cling to hope.
People ask me sometimes why I don’t switch allegiances and start following another team. To me that would be similar to dropping my daughter off at the doctor’s office and leaving with another child. As much as it pains me sometimes I am emotionally invested. I was born into this.
As I reflect on my birthright as a lifelong Skins fan I am preparing to hop back on the Redskins roller coaster for one more spin around the tracks of the NFL season. I remain hopeful that this time there aren’t as many unexpected drops at the end of the long climb up the hill.