November 27, 2010

Sean's Gone

There was no good way to say it when it happened,
there is no good way to say it now.
But this was how Sean's death struck me then,  
so I will continue to make this my silent tribute
for as long as the feelings remain unchanged.
(Reprinted from November 28, 2007)

It’s not a long drive to my son’s high school, maybe 15 minutes.

Most mornings, we share sleepy wise cracks—which of us looks worse; whose day projects out the bigger pain; the lameness of a certain radio commercial.

Sometimes we talk daily routine—remembering to turn in an order form; calling if he needs to be picked up; the logistics of an upcoming outing with friends.

Sometimes we talk a little sports. Redskins, mostly.

Once in a while, as events dictate, we talk real life—there will be other girls; they just discovered an Earth-like planet 20 light-years away; it’s junior year partner, these grades count.

Tuesday morning, we rode in silence.

He’d had a strange look on his face as he came down the hall from the living room, where the morning news was playing, when we readied to leave the house. His voice had a flatness to it when he spoke.

“Sean’s gone.”

I wasn’t fully awake—I didn’t understand. Then I saw the look in his eyes, the awful news story I had fallen asleep thinking about came flooding back, and I understood only too well. I don’t remember now if it was raining as we headed out into the dark, but it always will be in my memory.

As we were pulling out into the road a minute later, a voice on the car radio confirmed the reality.

“Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor died this morning from a gunshot wound suffered in his home …”

We drove in silence, staring straight ahead.

I don’t really know if the time it took to get to the school took forever, or if it flashed by in an instant. Time has a strange quality to it in times of stress. What I do recall is the unsettling jumble of disjointed thoughts, feelings and impressions...

November 25, 2010

Lucky Me

To those who stand in harm's way for the freedoms we at home too often assume a birthright, and not the single greatest blessing one human can offer another, won at inconceivable cost, please accept one free man's humble, heartfelt, sincerest gratitude.

A safe, peaceful and happy Thanksgiving to all.

November 23, 2010

A Work in Progress

By the time you read this, the Washington Redskins will have spent a very long week stewing over their embarrassing 59-28 nationally televised home loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, and turned their attention to the Tennessee Titans.

The Redskins will have either lost their third straight game, fallen to 4-6 and seen any realistic shot at a late-season wildcard playoff run disappear, or they will have somehow upset the Titans, leveled their record at 5-5 and stayed alive for at least one more week.

In the grand scheme of things, though, it doesn’t really matter. Barring some miraculous turnaround, some unexpected catalyst, the Redskins’ chances of establishing genuine January NFL relevance in 2010 dissolved in a rain of Philadelphia touchdowns on Monday Night Football two weekends ago. They just plain do not have the talent to make real noise in the playoffs.

It may be too soon to close the book entirely on the 2010 Redskins however.

Contradictory? Not really.

Lord knows Redskins fans have had their fill of losing. Two winning seasons in 12 will inexorably instill a “here we go again” vibe with any loss –particularly one that sinks the team’s overall record below .500. An historic beat down like the one the Eagles laid on them feels like a heavyweight’s uppercut to the midsection.

When the gridiron gods chose the Philadelphia Eagles as their implement of torture in 2010, allowing them to lay 59-28 on the Redskins, the sad truth is it really came as no surprise. The burgundy and gold have managed to turn in avert-your-eyes catastrophe games like that every couple of years for over a decade now.

Last season it was 45-12 at the hands of the New York Giants.

In ’07, the New England Patriots laid the Redskins waste 52-7.

In ‘05, fresh off a cathartic 52-17 victory of their own over the San Francisco 49ers, the burgundy and gold sauntered up to New York only and got sautéed 36-0 by the Giants.

In ‘03 the Dallas Cowboys crunched the Redskins 27-0.

Remember ‘01? Try 37-0 to the Kansas City Chiefs and 45-13 to the Green Bay Packers in back-to-back weeks.

I would bring up 73-0 in ’40 to the Chicago Bears, but that would be piling on.

Point is, painful as it may be to watch, losing the occasional game in what-the-hell-was-that fashion has become almost de rigueur for the Washington Redskins of recent memory. And what needs to be noted is that losing a game like the 59-28 Eagles embarrassment does not necessarily mean the team is headed for a top five draft pick next season ...

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November 16, 2010

Eagles 59, Redskins 28

You'd think the annual nationally televised embarrassment the Redskins subject us to would get easier to take over time.

It doesn't.

Only one thing is clear this Black Tuesday morning ... there will be no feel-good, worst-to-first turnaround from last year's 4-12 debacle.

At 4-3 you could indulge the speculation.

At 4-5, with cartoon anvils chained to their ankles and a road trip to Tennessee up next, it's time to shift psychic gears.

The rest of 2010 will be watching for signs head coach Mike Shanahan can stop the hemorrhaging of the last two games and get his team's collective head on straight heading into what promises to be another very busy offseason.


November 4, 2010

Not Dead Yet

The title refers to both the 4-4 Redskins and (with apologies for injecting myself into the mix) yours truly.

On the former ... you may have heard about the Redskins' latest fun and games. They lost again to the Detroit Lions (apparently trying to balance out universal karma since between 1782 and the mid-2000's they beat the Lions 2,113 straight times.

Apparently they also had some drama involving their quarterback.

Me, I've had an interesting year. Separation from spouse of 23 years, losing 40 pounds (unrelated of course) and, over this past weekend, moving into new digs.

Why share the personal stuff? Because those of you kind enough to saunter through here from time to time deserve an explanation when you find it silent for days at a time. Please accept a nod of appreciation for the patronage and consider hanging in there a while longer while Life does its "Yo, deal with me" thing.

So ... the quarterback thing? About as overblown as any local sports story I can remember.

My quick take:

On a day the offense was, shall we say, struggling, at some point during the second half the FOX cameras catch the offensive coordinator (and head coach's son) on the sidelines. He's watching what is about to transpire on the field as his offense comes to the line of scrimmage.

He spreads his hands and gives the classic "WTF?" look. It sends chills up my spine. Truth is I haven't seen anything like that in 40 years of watching pro football.

It was a clear and frightening insight into the clusterf*** that was (is?) the current State of the Offense, a unit being run in some kind of strange brew involving head coach Mike Shanahan, son Kyle and erstwhile Pro Bowl quarterback Donovan McNabb.

Donovan was having a crappy game. The offensive line slept in. The defense got stops except when absolutely necessary. But Brandon Banks and a few timely offensive plays here and there had the Redskins up five, with four minutes to go, and the ball.