by Pat Malone
It’s September and football season, both collegiate and professional, has begun with fans in full-throated excitement for the sport. Talking heads of football are having a virtual yak fest over whether Nick Saban will stay long-term at Alabama, was Tom Brady guilty or not guilty during ‘Deflategate’, and which NFL teams, one, maybe two, will potentially land in Los Angeles for the 2016 season.
Some of those same football pundits have been watching with joyous glee and great disdain of the continuing carousel of ongoing controversies of the once vaunted Washington Redskins franchise, with head coach Jay Gruden’s benching their former ‘star’ quarterback, Robert Griffin III, in favor of backup, Kirk Cousins. Who would have ever predicted that call this past June or July, with the Redskins front office and coaching staff expecting a spectacular ‘comeback season’ for ‘the best quarterback in the league’, and even placing him on their Opening Day ticket?
In 2013, RG3’s uniforms were flying off the shelves, not only here in the D.C. area, but also nationally, as it was the top-seller of all NFL jerseys for the year. Now Griffin’s 10 swag does not even make it in the top-50 NFL jersey sold across the country. As a matter of fact, not one Redskins jersey is in that ranking. The best-selling Redskins jerseys, to date, currently are Ryan Kerrigan’s 91, followed by Kirk Cousins’ 8, and even their sales numbers are abysmally low.
Mark Brunell and Rex Grossman both wore 8 for the Redskins, so if you have one of their jerseys buried somewhere deep in your closet, with some duct tape and a Sharpie, you’re all set for this season, right? Remember, Kirk’s last name is spelled COUSINS and get used to hearing his name a lot this season.
Griffin has been injured for most of his brief career with the Redskins, which has noticeably lessened both his local and national exposure, as well as interest among fans who once thought of him as being a potential savior for the franchise. In his three years with the Redskins, Griffin has gone through a change of coaching staff and offensive coordinators, so he has not seen any consistency with the program, plus the often-porous offensive line has not done him any favors, either.
Look folks, Griffin is a proud football player who hates losing, and no doubt hates the situation that he is in right now, but he is just one of a 53-man roster and while he is the team leader while he is on the field, all of the other players have to mesh well for a team to have a chance to win. Griffin is also still very young and has said some things that I am sure he no doubt regrets.
We live in a 24/7 news cycle that highlights everything and Griffin has been under the microscope so much that every bit of introspection of him is magnified so that the guy really can’t catch a break. Trust me, he doesn’t want to lose.
Since the Redskins won Super Bowl XXVI, their fortunes both on and off the field have spiraled out of control, with the team almost consistently losing games, so much so that Dan Snyder has been removing seats out of upper deck end zones at FedEx Field, en masse, a field which once had the largest seating capacity of any stadium in the NFL. Did the Redskins exhaust their seemingly endless season ticket waiting list?
The battle over the use of ‘Redskins’ for the franchise has been a cash-cow for lawyers defending the team in court, as a District Court judge recently upheld the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s decision to remove the trademark registration in the team’s name, where it is predicted the case will eventually make its way to the Supreme Court.. One team out of 32 NFL teams has to fight to save its name, which, for me, as a New York Yankees fan can easily be blamed on the Boston Red Sox.
George Preston Marshall founded the Boston Braves in 1932, with his franchise playing their inaugural season at Braves Field, home of the National League’s Boston Braves. After some difficulties with Braves Field management over field maintenance issues, among other things, Marshall moved the team in early 1933 across town, to Fenway Park, home of the American League’s Boston Red Sox. He had uniforms and gear with Native American motifs on them, so he wanted to have fans in Boston get accustomed to going to Fenway, where the Red Sox played, thus he came up with the name ‘Redskins’.
A lot can be said for Marshall’s stance against integrating the Redskins, that he was racist in having his club be the last NFL franchise to sign an African American to their roster, but the fight over the team name, today, has drawn indignation and disgust from a myriad of groups and governments who say that the team’s name is racist with hopes that the franchise will be forced to change officially their moniker that was somewhat born somewhat out of desperation, in Boston, in 1933.
With the 2015 season now upon us, though, all controversies aside, how will the Redskins do this season? Will general manager Scot McCloughan’s draft, trades, and acquisitions bear fruit for a winning season this year, or will the team continue with double-digit losses, once again? Will Kirk Cousins become the phoenix to help the Redskins rise out of the ashes and into the playoffs, or will he become a pariah in a very long list of quarterbacks who have played in Washington over the past twenty or more years?
As a life-long fan of the team, brought up by a first-generation Washingtonian, my father, Charlie Malone, who’s been a life-long fan himself, and partially raised by his brother, my uncle, Ed Malone, who was also a die-hard fan, too, I hope things turn around this season as I still fondly join my family in the spirit of rooting for and saying aloud, ‘Hail to the Redskins’!
Please let me know your thoughts on the Redskins and the NFL by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I sincerely look forward to hearing from you!