You, Me, and RGIII – The Skins Fan Redemption

Your weekly recap of the biggest thing to hit Washington since George.

Remember, Red[skins fans], hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.

-Andy Dufresne, The Shawshank Redemption

Hope is a good thing…

This isn’t a spoiler alert, its a commandment: if you haven’t seen Shawshank, stop reading this and start watching. This blog post, and your life, will be much better for it. Yes, Rudy, I’m talking to you. Also, keep in mind that this whole thing will read a lot better if you can imagine Morgan Freeman’s voice narrating it to you. Actually, I recommend that for pretty much everything in life.

I’ve been living my life as a football fan trapped in a prison. Each and every Sunday for over 20 years I have been sentenced to torture. Every loss means a week in solitary confinement. When your team loses in the fashion that the ‘Skins lose, you can’t help but feel alone, no matter how many people are in the room with you. Every year yields promise: Maybe this is the year that I get paroled. Every new signing, every coaching change bring change, maybe Steve Spurrier can tell them that it’s a mistake that I’m in here. Maybe Jason Campbell* can prove to them that I’m innocent. By the time Jim Zorn rolled around all of my optimism had been lost.

*Dan Snyder changing offensive coordinators on Campbell every year to start his career was the equivalent of the Warden ordering Tommy shot in the courtyard. Any chance of freedomleft Al Saunders. I bet Jason felt the same way about Saunders’s 700 page playbook that Tommy felt about the GED test.

Dan Snyder is the Warden of every Redskins fan’s prison.

All of a sudden, just when we thought the cycle was starting all over again, a tall drink of water with a silver spoon up his ass walked through the gates. RGIII is our Andy Dufresne. He is smart, confident, capable, and he has no damn business being here. I was skeptical. I bet on him to crack that first night, keeping my expectations low and drafting him in our PO Life bad quarterback’s league.

It turns out, I was wrong about him. Griffin didn’t fold in his first NFL experience, he shined. Griffin completed pass after pass and looked like a real NFL quarterback. Yes, the ‘Skins used some goofy formations and creative playcalling, but Griffin stood in the pocket and made great throws. By the end of the game, I knew there was something different about him. Redskins fans sat back on our couches with the sun on our shoulders and felt like free men (and women) again. We were the lords of all creation.

Griffin is the author of our redemption.

I wish I could tell you that Griffin had fought the good fight, and the NFL defenses let him be, but the NFL is no fairytale world. Every week, Griffin shows up with a fresh set of bruises. Defenses* will keep at him. Sometimes he will be able to fight ’em off, sometimes not. And that’s how it will go for Griffin – that will be his routine. I also believe that if things keep going on that way, the Redskins might get the best of him.

*Am I comparing Cortland Finnegan to Boggs? Yes, I absolutely am.

I think you’d be hard-pressed to find an NFL player that disagrees with this analogy.

Things are different now. In the past, my prison of fandom was a place where hope died. While the rest of DC was building their hype over the offseason, I lamented the fact that despite some cosmetic changes, we didn’t have the team to compete. Yes, we brought in that pricy free agent wideout and signed a couple of safeties but the O-line is weak and the team lacks depth. A stiff breeze would knock us over.

Fed Ex Field is my own personal Shawshank. It is cold, lifeless, and a place where hope goes to die.

Now, I feel the winds changing. I’m stuck in the same place but there’s promise that something new may happen, that things will change. Last week, the ‘Skins were down big — the Bengals were up 17 points just before halftime. In most years, that would have been the game. This year though, Griffin brought the team back. After tying things up, the Redskins went down two touchdowns half way through the fourth. Somehow, I still believed. I still had faith that Griffin could bring them back. He came so damn close, scoring one touchdown and driving the team within 20 yards of another before sacks and penalties forced the game away.

That’s the thing though. The Redskins are 1-2. They are in a familiar place, last in the NFC East. They may even be one of the worst teams in football*. Somehow, this season feels different.

*That lack of depth is rearing its ugly head. Injuries have already taken a toll and I don’t expect that team health will improve as the season goes along.

The difference is Griffin. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. There is promise that tomorrow will be a better day. I have faith that next season will bring a better team. I believe that even if we won’t win every game, we have a chance. That was the difference last week against Cincinnati: we were down, but we were never out. No matter how slim the chance, I believed that Griffin could lead us through it.

RGIII is on pace to throw and run for over 5,000 yards… That’s the length of 50 football fields. Just short of ten miles.

We are not out of prison yet. There is a long road ahead of us. You, me, and RGIII have to crawl through the river of shit that is a rebuilding football team. But I have hope that we can come out clean on the other side. I hope the Lombardi trophy is as bright as it is in my dreams.

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