October 12, 2008

Here's Tae Us, Redskins Fans

There's an old Scottish toast:

Here's tae us. Wha's like us?
Damn few - and they're a' deid.
Mairs the pity!

Ran across a couple of Redskins message board threads the last couple of days that brought that wonderful Highland sentiment to mind. Not going to make a habit of this, but I'm going to link them here, both for posterity and because of what they signify.

Both pieces speak to aspects of the 2008 Redskins that have struck me as well, and they have both done so eloquently. But it's more than that. It's in the way they reflect the unselfconscious, powerful sense of confederation we feel with "our" chosen team. It's that sense of "us" that has been at the heart of my compulsion to write about them the past few years.

It is an uplifting time to be a fan of the burgundy and gold ... and nothing lifts me higher or makes me prouder than seeing my fellow fans moved to eloquence in expressing that.

First, from Schneed10 on TheWarpath.net, a recognition of the impact Joe Gibbs has had on the Redskins franchise currently surging under new Head Coach Jim Zorn:

Thank You - An Open Letter to Joe Gibbs

Amidst all the excitement, the Redskins buzz on the airways, the cheers by the fans, the positive press from national media, amidst high hopes and the praise for new coach Jim Zorn; amidst all of that I just wanted to stop and smell the roses while we sit here at 4-1, and say thank you to the man most responsible for the Redskins' success this season...

Joe Gibbs.

This is in no way to take away from the job Jim Zorn has done/is doing, and in no way to take away from the sound decisions Vinny Cerrato has made since taking the reins as the football boss. It is because of Jim Zorn that our offensive schemes are creative, balanced and unpredictable. It is largely because of Jim Zorn's tutelage that Jason Campbell has taken his game to the next level, winning four out of five tough games without committing a single turnover. It is because of Vinny Cerrato that rookie Chris Horton now mans the safety spot, generating four takeaways for the Redskins through five games. Jim Zorn and Vinny Cerrato have been a success thus far, and we're all excited for what's to come with them at the helm.

But as I watch Clinton Portis put up nearly 150 yards on the Eagles in Philly, I can't help but think of the day Joe Gibbs traded for him. As I watch Shawn Springs shut down Terrell Owens in Dallas, I can't help but think of the day Joe Gibbs flew on Redskins One to sign him as a free agent. As I watch Chris Cooley (who Gibbs traded up to acquire in the 2004 draft) catch a TD pass against the Eagles from Antwaan Randle-El (who Gibbs acquired as a free agent in 2006) I can't help but think of Joe. And especially as I watch Jason Campbell develop into a star QB, making key plays on third down to move the chains and ice games, I think back to the day Gibbs traded three picks to jump up and take him 25th overall.

Marcus Washington. Cornelius Griffin. Rocky McIntosh. LaRon Landry. London Fletcher. Carlos Rogers. Fred Smoot. Casey Rabach. Santana Moss. In addition to the players mentioned above, these guys all have three things in common:

- They're 4-1.
- We love them.
- Joe Gibbs acquired them.

Joe Gibbs built the foundation of this team, but more than that, he restored the pride and character in this team ....

Click Here to read the rest

And second, this piece from Macgulf (SFC J. McCree, U.S. Army - Retired), at Extremeskins, needs no setup:

An Observation

At four and one, the Washington Redskins have made me a believer again…once again…after many seasons of heartbreak and near misses.

I’ve been a fan since 1972.

I, like you, watch, listen, hope and even pray that this team will win on Sunday. I read what the press writes, consider the game plan, and match up the Redskins players against the other team’s players.

What has changed? How have they convinced me, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they are a quality team?

What I say next might surprise you…it might even surprise them.

It surprised me…for I have not seen this “Thing” that so convinced me…in many, many years…anywhere.

It was not their execution on the field. It was not their play making ability; it was not who they beat, where they played, or how many of them were injured during the last four wins.

It was not the coaching, the play calling or the time management.
It was not even the first “Hip Hip Hooray” that Coach Zorn called in the locker room that made me believe in them again.

It was the second one.

I watched a shirtless Antwaan Randle El on my computer screen call for a specific cheer…in the middle of a bunch of tired, stinky, worn out professional men…and they responded like…

…Delta Company, 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment…at range 301 in Graffenvier, Germany in 1989…after we took the highest award during gunnery.
I watched the same “Thing” all over again… in a locker room hundreds of miles away.

My mind was flooded with the memory of…

…02:30 in the morning, we all smelled horrible, we were tired, hungry, worn out from a month in the field on maneuvers. It was cold, damp, everything was wet and we were miserable. Yet everyone one of us were bright eyed and bushy tailed. We had just won the Super Bowl of Tank Gunnery. We were “TOP TANK Company”. We did it!

This “Thing” I speak of …is difficult to describe, tough to maintain, and gone before it’s realized.

What is this term I speak of…that has been missing from my life…our lives…from our leadership, politics, corporations, companies, for so very long?

What one “Thing” can transform a group of people into a winning team?

Esprit de corps ...

Click Here to read the rest

Thank you both, and to all fellow followers of "our" Washington Redskins familiar with the emotions being tapped into here, willing and able to feel them so deeply and speak them with such strength. You do us proud.



Rich Tandler said...

Re: The Sarge's comments--Often one is going down the wrong road when they start with military/football analogies. This one works, though, because it's about people, about the human spirit. Good stuff.

Unknown said...

I don't disagree with any of this stuff - especially the fact that Gibbs put together a solid team (although I could repeat lots of negative comments we've all heard about virtually every player mentioned in the article). But they've only played 5 games!

As excited as I am watching what appears to be a very good team, I still understand that this season is far from being a success. We've all seen many, many teams start out fast and disappear just as quickly. I don't think that will happen with this team, but I'm not ready to celebrate, or make assumptions about their greatness, just yet. Let's hope their spirit and talent can carry them for 4 more months!

Mark "Om" Steven said...

No argument, sydsho. That's consistent with my philosophy as well. Too many variable are in play to assume anything; injuries, funny bounces, catching teams at good vs bad times, bad calls, you name it. Until the team has won consistently over at least a couple seasons, we're still just another team trying to break through.

Point of this piece, though, was and is my other consistent message: as with Life itself, being a fan is more about the journey than it is reaching the final destination.

Watching what's happening right now with the team is wonderful--watching the effect it's having on my fellow fans is uplifting.

Unknown said...

Understood. Make no mistake about it, I'm enjoying it as much as the next guy!

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