Thursday, December 06, 2007

Hail victory...

On the way to the Ravens game Monday night, my friend (and blog tipster) came up with another idea: a comparison of the stadium experiences of Maryland's two professional football franchises – the Baltimore Ravens and the Washington Redskins (of Landover).

This seemed like a great idea. After all, how many chances does one get to attend two NFL games on consecutive days? Starved for decent blog content as I am, how could I refuse?

As I thought about writing this post over the past couple days, however, I realized I couldn't do the idea justice. In the span of 35 hours, I sat through two "est" games, both of which failed at providing a truly representative example of what most events at the stadiums -- FedEx Field and M&T Bank Stadium -- are really like. I would be comparing extremes that were, in some ways, opposite and, in other ways, painfully similar.

In case you live under a rock, the Redskins suffered their first real loss in quite some time when one of their best players was murdered over a week ago during a botched robbery at his house. There is nothing I can add to the Sean Taylor story that isn't just additional noise, so I won't even try.

Despite the emotions and the relative insignificance of it, the Redskins still had to line up to play their game on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. It turned out to be the saddest sporting event I've ever attended. While Abbzug's the real Redskins fan, I still maintain a strong interest in the team of my childhood. And even if everyone's saying it, Taylor was one of my favorite players. For a fairly laid back guy, I tend to gravitate towards the football players that are ruthless on the field. Taylor, who leveled a punter during the traditionally easy-going Pro Bowl last year, was that guy for the Skins.

So, going to the game was a way for me and Abbzug to pay our respects to the man. As instructed, we arrived early and made our way to our seats for the pregame ceremony, which was far better than what I expected from a Daniel Snyder production. The band's slow rendition of "Hail to the Redskins", played as a dirge, was tremendously moving, as was the video tribute, and by the end of the 15 minute ceremony, I don't think a single "21" towel wasn't soaked with tears.

The game itself was good, right up until the last minute, when a painful series of events led to a Redskins loss that epitomized the idea of kicking someone while they're down.

In the grand scheme of things…I don't think it mattered if they won or lost. They played. They honored their teammate and friend. And the next day, they got up first thing in the morning and flew to Florida to bury him. The game's outcome changed nothing.

Nevertheless, from a fan's perspective, the loss sucked and just added to the sadness.

Undeterred, I made my way to Baltimore on Monday to watch the Ravens play the Patriots, who, in case you're living under a rock, have already been given the Lombardi trophy this year. I hate them dearly. I hate their cheating coach, their womanizing quarterback, and their totally insufferable fans, all of it. (I do kind of like Randy Moss, though – straight cash, homey!)

My only real hope for the game was that it would turn into a blow out by the half and I could leave early enough to get a decent night's sleep.

Instead, I watched the greatest game of football I've ever seen. I'm still so upset that I don't really want to talk about it, but, wow, the play on the field, the wind, the snow flurries, the crowd, everything conspired to make it an amazing night…except for the fact, minor really, that the Ravens, like the Skins the day before, lost in the final minute of the game.

Something about appreciating the journey and not just the destination seems appropriate here. But, as I said, I don't want to talk about it.

Anyway, in what is certainly the cruelest twist of fate ever delivered by the football gods, the Redskins play again tonight (Thursday) against the Chicago Bears. I know there's still a mother and father without a son, a bride-to-be without a groom, a daughter without a father, and a team without a brother – the sad reality that no game will change – but damn, it would be nice if something could go the Skins' way.


candace dodson reed said...

I am not a Redskins fan at all (in fact, I am a Cowgirl) but was QUITE moved as well by the Sean Taylor story. This was a really nice piece you wrote about Taylor and how you connected the two games/experiences...
And I'm not just saying that b/c of some kinda "administration allegiance"...:-)
Well done!

Melissa said...

Nice win for the Skins, too bad they had to lose Jason Campbell at the same time... Tough week.

Dave Wissing said...

Sorry, but any day the Redskins lose is a good day in my book....

Anonymous said...

'Twas the Night Before Dallas (2007)

‘Twas the night before Dallas, and all through ‘Skins Park,
Every creature was stirring, watching film in the dark.
The coaches were drawing up gameplans with care,
In hopes that the playoffs would soon be there.

Wade Phillips, meanwhile, was snug in his bed,
While visions of Switzer-dom danced in his head.
And T.O. in his band-aids, and Roy with his dollars,
Was counting his payment for his latest horse-collar.

When up in the sky there arose such a din,
Romo sprang from his sheets to look outside from in.
Away to the window he flew like his boss,
Coming down to the sidelines before an OT coin toss.

The moon made the snow glow white, oh-so-pretty,
Like Wadey-boy’s hair after ol’ Music City.
And what to Tony’s undrafted eyes should appear,
But a safety who don’t need no stinkin’ reindeer.

With great size and speed that were rivaled by none,
Romo knew in a second that it must be 2-1.
More rapid than aircraft, and stronger than steel,
Sean’s mere presence outside made number nine squeal.

“Listen, Tony,” he said, as the quarterback squeaked,
“I’ve heard that your coach wants to start you this week.
He says that he doesn’t fear a tackle or two,
But I know what my boys have in store for you.

You’ll spend most of your time cleaning your helmet of grass,
Whenever you’re not getting knocked on your ass.
And just in case you think you can avoid all the hurt,
Let me tell you the ways you’ll be hitting the dirt.

On blitzes! On stunts! On speed and bull rushes!
On coverage sacks, bad snaps, and LaRon Landry crushes!
When you’re counting your bruises as your offense is botching,
Don’t forget that your girlfriend ain’t the only one watching.”

As he pointed above and then disappeared,
Taylor’s visit left Tony immensely a-feared.
Walking back to his bed, he had thoughts, none too fleeting,
Of ways to get out of his upcoming beating.

Back in Ashburn, as they worked all through the night,
The Skins’ many coaches felt unusually bright.
It wasn't just tactics, or the flawless Todd Collins,
Something more made them feel that a win was a-callin'.

Coach Joe, in particular, could sense the emotion,
And believed he knew just what was causing this notion.
"Don't worry," he said, "about falling off track
Tomorrow is ours - Sean's still got our back."

-JoeDaSchmoe, A Christmas Tradition: “Twas the night before Dallas"