Wednesday, December 1, 2010
the Negative Energy Swirls of FedEx Field
It is interesting to me how memes rise suddenly in this hyper-electronic age, because after barely paying attention to the Redskins getting punked at home by the previously mostly impotent Brett Favre and his Minnesota Football Vikings, it occurred to me that FedEx Field has not been that intimidating a presence on the NFL schedule for people, or really that great a place as a home fan. I’ve never been personally, mostly because by the time I felt like I could go, I hated Dan Snyder so much that I refuse to give him parking money and all the other shit that comes with travelling to wherever in godless suburban Maryland this atrocity is outside of D.C. I have very fond memories of RFK Stadium, including losing my mind at a Grateful Dead show under the influence of acid and mushrooms, having mutual oral sex with what in retrospect I can only assume was probably a 14-year-old, and having fishing wire fall from the sky and cut up my forearms. Seriously. Ask Eric. RFK was both a shithole and great place, all at once, and it would actually bounce when it got going, like the concrete literally moving with the throngs of energy from the mass of people all moving in the same psychic direction at once. Now I am no sports marketer, but that’s what the fuck a sports arena/stadium is supposed to be about. Old and decrepit and a concrete stained with blood, piss, and the heart and soul of fifty years of miserable fucks rooting for their miserable home team in the same miserable colors as the actual athletes. That’s fucking sports, and I don’t mean the million dollar contracts and billion dollar industries sports, but sports in the sense of what made different cities say, “Hey, I bet my dudes could naked grapple your dudes to the fucking ground, you weak bitches!” back in ancient times. It’s in us.
But American sports of the successful team varieties turned into golden geese that those in ownership figured would just keep on giving and giving and never get sick. Well, hold up, that’s what the Redskins are now, but before I go off yet again on what a piece of shit Dan Snyder is, let us rewind a bit.
There was a dude named Jack Kent Cooke who owned the Washington Redskins, and he would hire a General Manager and a Head Coach, and they would make decisions for ol’ Jack. If ever there was a disagreement that the GM and coach could not come together on, then they both would present their side to Jack and he would be the tiebreaker. But otherwise, he stayed the fuck out the way. It was through this process that he accumulated the three Lombardi trophies that were part of the Redskins estate sold off after his death. He had put into motion the building of a new stadium, to replace RFK, with the fans in mind, but spot after spot got nixed by local politicos, until finally they ended up in Maryland in probably the worst spot of them all they looked at. But they started building Jack Kent Cooke Stadium.
After Jack’s death, his kids couldn’t really agree on owning all his shit (although he left most of his wealth to charity), and were trying to get an ownership package together to take over the team, an early version of which included Dan Snyder. Somewhere along the way, Snyder went renegade and decided to be majority owner on his own, and he took over the team after the NFL cartel of overlords approved his purchase. Soon thereafter, the naming rights to Jack Kent Cooke Stadium were sold to FedEx, to bring in some revenue, which is the one thing Snyder has been consistently good at as an owner. (Redskins set NFL attendance records every year, mostly because of how giant the stadium is compared to normal NFL stadium capacities.)
FedEx Field opened for business in 1997, and it has not been the wonderful home you would hope. A D.C. politician this week was calling for a new stadium to be built in D.C. proper as soon as possible, basically saying, “Fuck FedEx” just in political fucker terms. And for some reason, the same time this thought crossed my mind, it was on local sports radio this week, and I even read an article about it last night. Very strange. Seems like these memes get shot into our brains from the cybersphere sometimes.
Nonetheless, I am a metascientist, so I dug up the info on Redskins games at FedEx Field since it opened. The basic premise to being a successful NFL football team is to win all your home games and split your road games. It is very simple, and preached by coaches from Lombardi to Ditka to Reeves to Joe Gibbs and I even heard a dude from the Falcons on Jim Shitass Rome say the same thing this week about their attitude. It is a simple philosophy that will always lead to success if you can meet those lofty goals. But beyond that, if you are winning at home, your home crowd is insane with deliriums, and will be a 12th, 13th, and 14th man on the field with you, every play. It’s fact. It’s also fact that that is not the case at FedEx Field, with noted butterfingers Carlos Rogers even talking about how sometimes it’s harder for the Redskins at home than on the road with fans cussing at them and complaining. In fact, the Redskins going into this weekend are one of the rare instances of an NFL team having a better record on the road than at home (2-4 at home, 3-2 away).
Again, I will refrain from going into a Dan Snyder sucks hissy fit and say this is the fruits to his corporate labors, fans no longer giving a fuck to be nice to their own team. Where else do we direct our anger? But let’s stick to the stats…
In April of 1997, Jack Kent Cooke died, and left the team to his charitable foundation, with his son John running the group (and also trying to get an ownership group to buy the team), announcing the coming season would be played at the newly named Jack Kent Cooke Stadium. Norv Turner was in the 4th year of his NFL head coaching gig (which was endless torture for me as a fan), and Darrell Green was still playing. They opened their new stadium that first season with a 5-2-1 record at JKC Stadium, that tie being very notable as the 7-7 painful Sunday night game against the Giants were Gus Frerotte headbutted himself out of the game celebrating the Redskins only touchdown. They went 3-5 on the road that year, which is decent enough, but did not get more than a sniff of the playoffs.
1998, 4-4 at home, so winning formula shot to hell.
In the spring of 1999, Dan Snyder was approved as owner, and sold the naming rights immediately to the highest bidder. Jack Kent Cooke’s name was removed from the team. This year, they did hold their own at FedEx, going 6-2 at home, and splitting their road games, to make the playoffs as NFC East champions, beating the Lions at home, and then losing at Tampa. Seriously, if you have followed this blog with any regularity, it is almost amazing to think the Lions played the Redskins in a playoff game at some point in our lives.
When Y2K hit, apparently FedEx Field reverted to what will be it’s modus operandi, and the novelty of a new owner wore off, and the Redskins split their home games, 4-4, also splitting their road games, to finish 8-8. Thankfully, Norv Turner was run off before the end of the season, letting Terry Robiskie be the only token black head coach in Redskins history, for a couple of games.
2001, same thing with Marty Schottenheimer in charge, splitting both home and road games, to go 8-8. And though the team seemed to be coming together at the end of the year, Snyder made one of his many Big Splash Decisions, and fired Schottenheimer to bring in the much ballyhooed Ol’ Ball Coach Steve Spurrier.
2002, Spurrier’s first year, they had their third winning record in JKC/FedEx history, going 5-3 at home, but a rough 2-6 on the road, so no playoffs. The next two years, all Spurrier could squeeze out of his leadership was a 3-5 record at home, and about the same on the road. Spurrier decided to bolt, being in over his head, and running out of visors to slam on the ground, as well as good golf courses in the greater D.C. metropolitan area to play peacefully at.
Snyder made a new Big Splash Decision, talking Joe Gibbs into coming back into coaching. And looking at the stats, I have to say, when you see the overall body of work of the Redskins under Dan Snyder, as well as what Joe Gibbs accomplished, I don’t think anyone can say he tarnished his legend by coming back. I think he actually improved it to be honest with you. In fact, this week as the Redskins are for all intents and purposes eliminated from playoff contention, the locker room talk you hear is how in ’05 and ’07 they had a ridiculous end of the season run to make the playoffs. Those were two of Joe Gibbs’ three years coming back. They went 6-2 at home in ’05, 3-5 in ’06, and 5-3 in ’07, earning a wild card berth to the playoffs the first and last of those years (when they perfectly split their road games 4-4, going 2-6 away in ’06, and proving the formula for success mentioned earlier to be true). Three playoff games in two appearances, all of them on the road, and a pair of losses to the Seahawks, and Joe Gibbs was done. The whole Sean Taylor thing drained him, as well as trying to create a winning environment in a doomed climate like FedEx Field.
Snyder did a reverse Big Splash after Gibbs left, hiring Jim Zorn as an offensive coordinator first, without a head coach, then promoting him after a couple of intense sleepovers with Vinny Cerrato at his mansion on the Potomac, grilling Zorn’s coaching philosophy by using Madden in franchise mode. Zorn’s first year in 2008, it was another perfectly mediocre split, again, 4-4 at home, 4-4 on the road, 8-8, as stay medium as you could get. It was also the fourth 4-4 home record in FedEx’s 12 year history (as well as the 9th time they didn’t get over 8 wins on the year). Zorn’s second year, the wheels had started to come off of what Joe Gibbs had built, and he only went 3-5 at home (plus a terrible 1-7 on the road), and Zorny was gone. Poor guy. I will always feel badly for Jim Zorn because the harshest mark on his coaching career is gonna simply be because he got caught up in Dan Snyder’s sphere of nonsense. What QB coach in the NFL is gonna turn down a coordinator offer? And if it somehow gets upgraded to head coach for no reason, who is gonna say no to that? Exactly.
So now we are in the first year of Mike Shanahan (who I can’t help but compare to Joe Gibbs, and Shanny is not showing and proving as well according to the W/Ls), and we are 2-4 at home. But that 2-4 is misleading even, because really it’s been far worse. Opening week against Dallas, the Skins didn’t look good so much as the Cowboys looked worse. And they still had the winning TD on the last play of the game get nullified by a stupid penalty by a Cowboys’ O-lineman. The following week, the Skins found a way to blow a big lead on the Texans, get taken to OT, and lose a heartbreaker by 3. Three weeks later, and we had what was our best home game of the year, playing a hard-hitting ugly game against the Packers, and beating them by a field goal in OT. The next week though was another 3 point loss to the Colts, at FedEx. And man, that was a tough game to stomach while watching.
A full four weeks later brought us to that Monday night game against the Eagles, which was so terrible that I’m not sure I’ll ever forget it. Like that was one of the most embarrassing moments the Redskins have ever displayed, ever, home or away, Dan Snyder owning them or not. Any home cooking FedEx might’ve still been holding onto was run the fuck out of town that night. So this past weekend, when they were having another lackluster effort against the previously unimpressive Minnesota Vikings, yeah, the fans were giving the Skins shit. Why the fuck not?
We’ve got two home games left, hosting the Buccaneers and the Gianst, a pair of potential playoff teams, and my hopes for neither game is that great, as this long list of recent history should prove how there is no home field advantage for the Redskins. But what is the problem? And how do we move on?
Look, first off, this season is a lost cause. Anyone who is trying to say they can win five in a row and make the playoffs is a fool (which means Santana Moss is a fool, but yeah). And though FedEx Field has only been hosting Redskins games for fourteen years now, it’s still the oldest home stadium in the NFC East. So the real money-is-no-object solution to the problem would be to knock the fucker down and build something inside D.C., maybe near the Nationals stadium, and be a for-real home team again, not a satellite sporting event. But Snyder won’t do that, because FedEx is a cash cow for him, and their lease runs until like 2047 or some crazy shit like that.
So taking that into consideration, I have come to the conclusion that something terrible happened during that sixth home game in 1997 against the Giants, when Norv Turner was coaching, and Gus Frerotte headbutted the wall and injured himself. At the time, we were all like, “Haha, the QB hurt himself, what a dumbass!” because how do you hurt yourself like that? Well, I think something bigger happened at that moment, bigger than just one knuckleheaded moment. With Jack Kent Cooke gone, and a new stadium creating it’s own new energy, plus fans full of all that pent up psychic power they used to be able to express freely at RFK, not to mention the negative history of the native American people who are behind that somewhat racist Redskins name, as well as the 42 Chinamen who died while they were building FedEx Field, there was a lot of energy swirling around. Somehow in that one moment, when Gus Frerotte scampered in for a TD and lightly tapped the wall with his head, a vacuum of mediocrity was created, eliminating any chance of super successes in the building. How else do you explain having as many 4-4 season as you have had winning seasons? How else do you explain all the 8-8 years, and all the field goal losses, and the general overwhelming mediocrity, no matter how Big a Splash our dear leader can come up with?
FedEx Field needs some cleansing, and I don’t mean washing the walls down or putting up a bigger jumboscreen. I mean some deep down psychic cleansing. First thing I would do is somehow put Jack Kent Cooke’s name in there more prominently, somehow. It’s the right thing to do. Second thing I’d do, and most of this would have to happen after the season is over, is bring in some native American shaman types. Look, in my real life, I burn sage often, to purify the spirit. I have an old house that is haunted at times, and it needs to be saged from time to time, just so we can feel comfortable in our home. I have done a few sweat lodges and can speak from personal experience that the soul cleansing nature of sage smoke is no fucking joke. I would immediately be directing the behemoth Redskins PR department not at local news outlets to do fluff pieces on how all Dan Snyder wants to do is win, but work on outreach with the native communities, both within driving distance of FedEx Field, but really all over the country. Throw $2 mil of that $9 mil naming deal into building football fields/sports complexes in downtrodden reservation lands in the midwest. Bring these people into FedEx, and burn the biggest stack of sage you can. Perform some cleansing ceremonies. (Hell, I fear there may be some secret curse put on the grounds now that I think about it.) Put up a sweat lodge at the 50-yard line and get Gus Frerotte in there. I would invite Norv Turner as well, maybe Spurrier and Riggins and Lavar Arrington and whoever might need to take part in this. Cleanse the entire building, smudge every entrance with sage smoke, every locker, let healing hands swipe across all prominent surfaces to remove the negative energy trapped in this godforsaken place.
And give the fans something. Really all we want is for the Redskins to win, so if you do all this other stuff, and allow Shanahan to continue to do what it looks like he might be doing, then maybe it’ll work out. But don’t give us stupid fucking Billy Ray Cyrus concerts. Knock $10 off the parking fees or $2 off the price of a beer in the 2nd quarter, or something. Right now it feels like FedEx is an oversized ATM machine, not a football stadium, and that is why fans are upset, and why they don’t give a shit to bitch and moan while at the game. So in essence, the 12th man advantage is now blocking for the other team. But it’s not our fault.
I hope if you have made it this far, and you are a Redskins fan, you will pass this piece along to your friends, because I feel something must be done to salvage this stadium’s potential power, and the more this thing spirals virally, the better chance it has of being incorporated into an actual plan to reclaim Jack Kent Cooke Stadium. I know this might just seem like some wacky internet nonsense by some crazy fucker, but I can tell you right now, my heart is pure. I am wearing a thrift store Redskins softball jersey as I type, and did not even realize it until I just looked down. I fucking care, more than I should, and all I want is for us to once again crush the spirits of our enemies. Instead, we are wallowing in this vortex of mediocrity and crushing ourselves. This is normal human behavior, to get stuck in these negative energy fields. A deep thick cleansing is the only solution. Trust me.