There was a time when if someone had asked who my most hated team was, I would have said the Redskins. I grew up in the DC/Baltimore market, and before the Ravens showed up the only team in town was the Skins. They were always on TV. They had obnoxious fans all over the region. My parents, hardcore Giants fans, hated them. So I hated them. I hated them a lot. I hated their smug fans. I hated the team. I hated the colors. I took great enjoyment in watching them lose. Watching the Redskins lose was probably second only to watching the Giants win. Hell, sometimes it even was better. Hating another team as a sports fan is fun. When the Redskins went 0-7 to start the 1998 season, I was probably enjoying that more than my own team. I drank the tears of the local news outlets. the Redskins could go jump off a bridge and I’d be there to watch them drown. It was the kind of irrational hate you can only have as a kid. As much as I joke about hating the Eagles, I’ve never hated a team like I hated the Redskins during my childhood.

As I got more into football and actually began to understand it, the Skins sort of began to fade away. The Ravens beat the Giants in the Super Bowl and suddenly the area was filled with smug Ravens fans. So I hated the Ravens. The Eagles got good. I hated the Eagles. I always hated the Cowboys. I still hated the Redskins, but the years went by and they kept being bad. Over the years the hate sort of devolved from passionate fury to apathetic dismissal. I still wanted the Giants to cream them, but the only times I cared was the Giants/Skins games. The Skins slipped into that place where the hate stopped and became pity. The team kept going through set back after setback. I remember actively rooting for Jason Campbell, because he seemed like a good guy getting too much crap. I remember first really learning about Dan Snyder, and he was my introduction to the world of sports business and how terrible it all is. The hate was mostly gone. When the Giants didn’t play them I was fine with them. I enjoyed watching the Skins beat the Cowboys and the Eagles. The Skins became the Bills/Browns/Lions of the NFC East. We could all still hate them, but the hate was mixed with awkward pity, because none of us could imagine the dysfunction those fans had to deal with.

in 2012 RG3 changed everything. I remember hating the Skins again. I remember thinking it was a good draft pick and being angry that they got who I thought was a good coach in Shanahan. When RG3 tore the league apart the fans let loose the smug I hadn’t seen since childhood. They were smug, happy, and I hated them once more. It was almost refreshing to hate my old nemesis again. I didn’t hate them as much still, and when they played Dallas for the division I was firmly on team RG3, but I felt the hate within me. I felt like we’d have to deal with this guy for a decade or more, and I hated it. I hated that they finally found themselves. Then the Redskins were the Redskins. And just a few years later, Shanahan is gone, bridges burnt. RG3 is done in Washington, and it’s a matter of where he goes and when. Another coach is seemingly at odds with Snyder. Everything is a goddamn mess. Again. And once again, I just kind of feel pity for the fans. (Not for the team though, still greatly enjoy watching them suck, I won’t lie).

These past few weeks have been absurd. Last year there were big hints of a rift between Jay Gruden and Snyder, namely over RG3. This year, RG3 gets hurt, cleared, then not cleared. Rumors circulate that Kirk Cousins will get the job. Reports come out that Gruden wants to move on from RG3 but ownership won’t allow it. Reports from team sources call it “Spaghetti Journalism”. Then RG3 does indeed get benched, Cousins gets the job, and RG3 is toast. As a small story, the GM’s wife got in trouble on twitter yesterday for calling an ESPN reporter her husband’s side chick. 

Redskins fans, namely on reddit, cry foul of ESPN and the media. Claiming bias from Adam Schefter and such. I’m willing to give them some benefit of the doubt on this, as they would know better than I would the media relations about the team. But at the same time…Snyder is the kind of owner who will buy a publication just to stop them from printing bad stories about him. As much as the media does dump on Snyder and the Skins…this isn’t just bias. The Skins have proved to be nothing if not dysfunctional for years, even before Shanahan and Schefter. This mess happens every couple of years. It can’t all be the media. There seems to be quite the pattern. Team gets new coach, usually not a top name. The coach only lasts a few years, high turnover, and the coach always seems to leave on bad terms. It always seems like a huge mess. Marty Schottenheimer was the first coach Snyder fired, which according to Wikipedia was “because he wanted to do it all”. Might have made Marty sound like a control freak, but looking back on that quote now is chilling. Steve Spurrier was next, and after two years resigned. Reading Spurrier’s Wiki seems to indicate more conflict with Snyder.  Joe Gibbs came on, and apparently only once Snyder agreed to take a step back. Gibbs is the only coach to get them to the playoffs (2005-07) and generally seemed unaffected by Snyder. At least visibly. Gibbs was also a Skins legend, so Snyder may have simply had more respect for him. Jim Zorn’s tenure ended in bitterness. I remember reading about his playcalling being stripped from him, and the very next game was Swinging gate, a Special Teams play he was still able to call. It always felt to me like Zorn was giving Snyder the finger. He was gone soon after amidst a haze of bitterness.

Shanahan seemed promising. The RG3 season is one of the reasons I don’t quite trust people saying that it’s media bias. The Media was all over the Skins that year. It only turned sour once things went sour at the end, and a lot of the blame was leveled at Shanahan. Shanahan undoubtedly mismanaged things, but it was hard to see him as the whole problem when we had an owner with a track record supposedly at odds with him. Shanahan was a dick but he was dealing with another well known dick. Another coach gone after bridges burned.

Gruden hasn’t quite started his second year and things already look to be burning. The team looks to be in the dumpster again, before a down is played. The cycle appears to be winding down, ready to begin anew. I’ve known a lot of Skins fans. They are fiercely loyal to a fault. They’d go down with the ship. They always find a way to have hope. Even now the rally behind Kirk Cousins has begun.

I want to hate the Skins again. To really hate the Skins like I used to. Maybe we can stick the Eagles or Cowboys in the basement for a while.

And yes I realize the weirdness of putting a long serious post at the bottom of a comic about projectile bodily fluids.