Let me context this by stating I am a fair-weather Redskins fan. Ever since I came to consciousness about the subject, I’ve felt the name of the Redskins should be changed. I also decided years ago that with so few hours in a week to fulfill my dreams, Sunday afternoon football was an easy sacrifice. Why sit on my butt for hours watching other men, who’d worked and sacrificed to reach the pinnacle of their God-given talent, when I could use the time myself?

My loyalty to the Redskins didn’t wane in a long, gradual sunset.  It ended abruptly, about the time Joe Gibbs said for the first time You know what Life is what’s happening while I’m busy fixating on the burgundy and gold.  It was also aided by the retirement of Darrell Green.  More than a man I always admired on and off the field, he seemed to be, in the cut of John Elway, Randy White, and Cal Ripken, a dying breed of sportsman who kept allegiance to a single team his entire career.  That helped fan the illusion for me that it was about something other than a big paycheck.

One of the disappointments of this past Sunday’s 2010 opener against Dallas was that I had to send my eldest son to bed at halftime. Who are these games for, anyway? My son is playing football now. I played 40 years ago. Heck, dear advertiser, I can also guaranteehe has more discretionary income than I do. But I digress. 

 This past Sunday night, as the flag I never saw fluttered to the turf to mark a holding penalty with no time left, I was transported back to a Thanksgiving scene in my youth. I don’t have to google this one.  I don’t remember the final score, but I remember his name.  Clinton Longley. The setting was a friend’s living room in Waynesburg, PA, the year: 1974.  Though the Redskins would go on to achieve greatness many times in their rise to the pinnacle (and their endless ride back down), though Walt Garrison would astonishingly be denied his touchdown by Ken Houston, through all the great and good times gathered in our Greenbelt home to cheer them and tear up over them, there was the great heartbreak of 1974.

I was drawn back to the tv Sunday, perhaps like many other fair-weather fans, as well as the die-hards, by the promise of hope over reason.  Some might even refer to it as the working definition of insanity – to repeat the same act over again, expecting different results. Ali versus Frazier. The Bird versus Magic.  The Redskins versus Dallas.

Sunday night’s win doesn’t erase my Thanksgiving memory. Not entirely. But Clint, wherever you are, I hope you were watching.

 


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    Jack Downs is a mystery writer, teacher, and the author of two novels and several short stories. Jack lives in Carroll County, Maryland with his wife and three children..

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