Sunday, April 22, 2012

Hope (yet again) in D.C.

It is a fairly glorious day to be a greater Washington DC metropolitan area sports fan, as it’s rainy as fuck, and cool enough to justify sitting around the kitchen table all day gloating in goodness. The Caps stole a win from the Bruins in Boston yesterday, and return home today to try and close out a best-of-seven, with a game to spare. The Nats are rained out today, so will hit the road to the West Coast with a shocking 12-4 record, meaning if they simply go .500 the rest of the year, they finish with 85 wins. And the cover of the Sunday Washington Post has a glowingly glorious article about what a great all-around package of athleticism and solid psychological make-up Robert Griffin III is, who will become the Redskins new QB of the present, the future, and perhaps for history, come this week’s NFL draft.
And yet, I am struck by the common theme through all these glories… wild orgasmic hope, yet nothing actually yet accomplished. The Caps should’ve, by hype and talent, at least played in a Stanley Cup finals series at least once the past three or four years. And yet here we are getting excited that they might actually win a first-round series against last year’s champs. The Nats have never finished above .500 since they came to Washington, much less sniffed the playoffs at any point past a 4th of July fireworks display. And my beloved Washington Redskins are once again claiming they are about to be relevant again, with the pick of a young “can’t miss” superstar.
First, let me proclaim my joy with Robert Griffin III. He does seem like a wonderful talent, and an even better human being. He does not seem like he’ll be the guy who is broke and addicted to strippers three years after flaming out of the NFL. He does not seem like he’ll be trashing his life during his prime, nor afterward. He is a freak of an athlete, and honestly, in my mind, seems like more Michael Vick than Michael Vick, athletically speaking, and yet with a chill, grounded mentality to complement that. I do not even one single bit find fault with the picks the Skins traded off for him, nor will I ever. I fully co-sign this move, and feel free to hold me to that, at any point in the future.
That being said, even as awesome as he is, I am uncomfortable with it all. He has commonly been touted as a franchise prospect with higher upside than Matthew Stafford or Sam Bradford (previous #1 overall picks at QB); yet in Detroit, Matthew Stafford was brought in as part of a rebuilding process, not as the savior of a franchise to bring them back to their entitled glory. RGIII comes into DC with no Calvin Johnson, but rather a large and odd assortment of Number Two receivers who are allegedly going to gel into some sort of remarkable corps. RGIII does not come into a locker room filled up with upper-round O-linemen who manhandle opposing defenses and create the space any QB needs to succeed, whether brilliant or not, but rather a roster that has severely overlooked the line for not only the last couple of drafts but for an entire decade. And worst of all, Robert Griffin III does not come onto a team being talked down as “a great young talent who can help us get better” but rather is being hyped as this year’s The Final Piece to help make everything that has not really looked like it goes together fit into the grand vision that somebody in Redskins management has allegedly been piecing together over time.
That hasn’t stopped the Redskins brass from making a fawning trip to Waco in advance of RGIII’s pro day, nor has it stopped them from doing all but actually selling jerseys already. Griffin has already been to memorabilia shows in the DC area signing Redskins helmet, weeks before the Colts said they were definitely drafting Luck. It has bordered on tampering, and it’s not exactly like the NFL is in love with Dan Snyder and the Redskins lately, but at the very least looks like a needy, emotionally flawed woman latching onto a man after a nice first date, and already talking about how many children they’ll have. And essentially, needy and emotionally flawed is what my Redskins have become.
Therein lies my discomfort with it all. When the Redskins were rumored to be in the Peyton Manning hunt, I was legitimately ready to abandon them. Legitimately. Which would have meant I abandoned football, because I’m not going to switch to another team at this point in my life. I was very relieved when they were out of that sweepstakes (which will end badly… hahaha Denver), because I can at least keep convincing myself the Redskins will get better, even though they never will so long as Dan Snyder’s management runs through the veins of the organization. It pains me to say that, because ultimately we are looking at the collision of two very opposite forces – the unquestionable awesome promise of Robert Griffin III and the very obviously displayed over time institutional dysfunction of the Washington Redskins. And unfortunately, even a 20-foot tall man will drown when tossed into a 30-foot deep cesspool.
At this point, I have not really figured out where Dan Snyder stands on the spectrum of things. At worst, he is an actual evil man who works diligently every offseason to re-brand the Redskins brand and instill false hopes in the fan base that this year will once again be different, hence the Offseason Champs meme associated so closely with burgundy and gold. And even at best, Snyder is still a terribly stupid man who actually believes his own press releases and thinks he’s actually working towards building a viable professional football team. Today – and this fluctuates weekly – I’d put him somewhere between stupid and evil, probably about two-thirds of the way towards stupid, but that’s probably because the past couple of weeks of Washington Post Redskins talk has been wildly hopeful and throwing force behind the future being good line of thinking. (It is interesting how a newspaper that is allegedly not an ally of Snyder’s, and also allegedly unbiased, very often just seems like more well-written and fleshed-out versions of an actual Redskins press release.)
Of course, come August, I’ll be geeked up, even without an offensive line, without a deep threat at WR, without a proven commodity in the backfield (and that’s just looking at the offensive side of the ball), and hope shall spring eternal… for a month or two at least. I am still not sold on the genius of the Shanahans, and am already convinced of Snyder’s bad influence on things, so the two most prevalent influences on the team will still be an outright negative and a very possible negative, and that unfortunately means we could ship RGIII off to southeast Asia, clone him in a Thai mad science laboratory, and have nine of him, and still probably be lucky to get a wild card in the upcoming season. And sadly, even more than that, I fear tragedy. Robert Griffin III seems so great, such a wonderful guy, such a pure of spirit smile and amazing athlete, that I actually worry for him being sucked into the vortex that is the Washington Redskins. I know he is being hyped as the man who will help pull us from our own vortex, but that doesn’t make logic according to the laws of metaphysics. I really hope this goes well, or at least continues to have enough promise to keep me falsely erect with hope for a few years, but I fear tragedy. It makes me sad to even verbalize it openly, as I am a superstitious man and wonder if perhaps I did not bottle these fears deep down inside of my own soul, that perhaps I could carry it and they’d never be unleashed upon reality. But just like RGIII will have to at some point, I realize I am not stronger than the force of the Redskins. I am simply being dragged along for the ride at this point, until I decide to cut the rope and move on with my life. Sigh. Mega-sigh, deep down in my football-loving soul.

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