Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Best Christmas Present Ever

The roller coaster ride that is the 2007 Washington Redskins' season continues. I have shared some of the low points this year, but not all of them. Now that it seems we are climbing the big hill at the start of the ride, I can talk about the present with a bit more optimism.
Sean Taylor's death was by far the worst thing that has happened this year. Until now I had refused to talk about it. Sean was my favorite player. His original jersey, 36 as a rookie, is the only team jersey I own. He had speed, strength, and passion for the game. Best of all, he didn't talk to reporters.
I know that his murder affected the team far more than it did me. I did not know how they would react, but I hoped and prayed that they would make this tragedy a source of emotional strength and play up to their abilities, and they have!
The game that changed the Skins year was the game against Chicago on 12/06/07. I was there! This was 3 days after burying Sean. We, the team and fans of Washington, were at an all time low. The playoffs were a complete fantasy. There were no expectations for anything but more losses and finishing the season as quietly as possible.

This is the picture I took from my seat of the Drunk Guy capture.

Sitting in the cold stands in early December, I thought the best thing that could happen all night was the drunk guy that ran onto the field and chest bumped a Bear player before being tackled by 20 security guards. That always cracks me up. I was wrong. Blessings come in many different forms. This one appeared to be another disaster.

I had scrambled down from my seat and was standing inside the club level watching the game on the big screen TV's FedEx Field has, when I saw Jason Campbell go down. The strange thing was that he was holding his knee cap which had suddenly decided that it was time to relocate to the side of his leg. Ouch! I immediately bought another beverage. Depression was right around the corner.

Todd Collins strolls into the game and leads us to a victory. Every cloud has a ... burgundy and gold lining? Still seems weird. Expectations for the redskins still remained low. So what did they do? Win three more games- Giants, Vikings and the Cowboys -and make the playoffs. Incredible!

The only problem is now the Redskins are playing well. This doesn't seem like a problem on the surface. Todd has been nearly perfect. The Defence is playing an aggressive hard hitting style that squashed Adrian Peterson and held the Cowboys to 1 rushing yard in the last game of the season (this is the lowest rushing total in the history of the Cowboys franchise). I say that playing well is a problem because people in the media are actually saying good things about the Redskins! I wish they wouldn't do that because I am not used to it. I am used to media coverage where the Redskins are ignored or mentioned as an afterthought.

Take the Skins vs Dallas game the other day. Guess who was calling the game on TV? Troy Aikman. Isn't that wack? I mean, he spent his entire career in Dallas hating the Redskins. His career was ended by a Redskin- Lavar Arrington. Even though Troy was calling the game, by the end of the game I could swear he was saying nice things about the Redskins. It was like being transported to Bizzaro World.

But the strangest thing about the Dallas game was the difference in the score at the end of the game. 21 points. Sean Taylor's jersey number. Very symbolic for a team that is looking for something to hold onto and motivate them to the next level.

I don't know what the playoffs will bring, but I feel very good about the Redskins chance for glory. The Redskins making the playoffs was the best Christmas present that I could have received this year. I hope that Sean's memory continues to inspire greatness in the Skins and they really make some noise this year, but for right now, I am happy. I know that Sean is happy for the Redskins, too.

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