Sunday, November 18, 2012

Why I Cheered for the Redskins Today

I grew up in north Texas in a family of avid Dallas Cowboys fans.  In fact, to my knowledge, everyone in north Texas was a football fan, and all of them were firmly in the silver-and-blue boat of Cowboys fandom.

I remember watching Sunday afternoon football with my dad and thinking it was every bit as sacred as church services.  Early on, my sisters and I would be bored to tears, not able to watch anything else on television on Sundays ... so we would get paper and pencils and have a contest to see which of us could write the most number/name combinations on both teams before the end of the game.  Anything to pass the interminable time that passed between kick-off and game end.

Later, I grew to enjoy the sport.  I learned the difference between offense and defense, how to tell a fullback from a free safety, and why grown men scream at a TV screen when their team misses a field goal on 3rd and goal.  I  was proud to be a junior high and high school cheerleader who actually understood the game.  We were NOT the squad cheering "DE-FENSE" when our team was 4th and inches from scoring.  We knew our game.

I enjoyed the golden years of Cowboys football ... the NFL championships -- SUPERBOWL WINNERS!! -- of 1993, 1994, and 1996. Tom Landry and Jimmy Johnson ... Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, Jim Jeffcoat, Bill Bates, Herschel Walker, Nate Newton, and Jay Novacek.  I even loved the earlier days of Roger Staubach and Tony Dorsett ... ahh!  The joy of watching great football! But my faith would be tested.

The first test of my Cowboy faith came in the summer of 2010, when John Harbaugh, coach of the Baltimore Ravens, spoke at a 1st Cavalry Division event.  He was likable and personable and was very motivational for those of us in his audience ... but it was the fact that he joined us at a piano bar, talking and laughing (and buying rounds of drinks) that made me a true fan.  He personally gave me permission to include the Ravens as a favorite team ... they could be my AFC team and I could still keep the Cowboys as my NFC team.  Done.  I've enjoyed the Ravens ever since.

Still, the Cowboys were my go-to team ... even after seasons of loss, heartbreak, and a few arrests, I had remained faithful.  Then, we moved to Washington DC.  The influence of Redskins fans is powerful and it is easy to get wrapped up in the mania that these fans project; and yet, I remained faithful to my Cowboys.  But then, something happened that absolutely changed everything.

You have to know, first, that I am a Baylor girl.  Raised in Texas, Baptist from birth, and private-university-educated.  I suffered through four very long and very sad losing seasons of Baylor football and have happily cheered them through many other losing games since.  But then, a single player arrived on the scene with enough talent, passion, and leadership to turn it all around.  When Robert Griffin III showed up on campus, he altered our sport-fan universe forever.  He brought pride and joy back to Baylor Football and revolutionized the way Baylor is viewed by the university world.  He was a savior of sorts (though with a little 's') ... and I loved him for it.

So then ... RGIII and I moved to DC at the same time.  Sure, he moved here with his new top-draft job with the Washington Redskins and I moved here with my fabulous Soldier husband and two wonderful children ... but we arrived here together.  The magic of RGIII had spread from Waco, Texas to the Nation's capitol.  How could I not be a fan?  How could I not cheer and wish him every success in his new adventure?  How, I ask you, could I not favor him and his new team?  I couldn't.  That's the answer.  I couldn't NOT cheer for him.  Tested like never before, I began to alter my view of Redskins-as-Evil and actually wish them well.

Coincidentally, a fairy-godmother-friend at Baylor called late in the NFL season to see if I had any interest at all in attending a Redskins game to cheer on our RGIII.  She just happened to have 2 season tickets that weren't being used, given to her by a local law firm who had the extra seats.  Um, YES!!  I would love to!  My sports-fan husband wasn't thrilled about cheering for the Redskins (and, for the record, he did NOT cheer for the Redskins) but was absolutely all-in for attending a local professional football game.

So that's how my husband and I found ourselves watching the Redskins beat the Eagles at FedEx Field today.  I even had my Redskins gear ... a fabulous jacket given to me by sweet friends before I left Fort Hood for Redskin Nation.  Today was a fabulous day and I was proud to cheer for RGIII and the Redskins in their win today.  HTTR!

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