If everything you know about Canadians comes from South Park (i.e., have flappy heads and beady eyes, say “buddy!” a lot, attack the United States), you might not guess, but that picture above is of actual Canadian Redskins fans. They made the 373 kilometre trek from Toronto to see their favorite team play. And why are the Redskins their favorite team?
Ken, on the far right of the picture, explains: “I’m pretty much his minion,” he says, pointing at Tony (the one without a Portis jersey on). “Since I was nine years old, I was trying to follow football, and I’m a Leafs fan – the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are a historic franchise in hockey. So he said, ‘The Redskins are like the Leafs in football.'”
They seemed to mean this as a compliment, so I’ll assume they were referring to the franchise’s long and storied history and not the two-decade-long fallow period of the 1970s and 1980s.
And Tony, how did you become a Redskins fan?
“I watched Riggins in that Super Bowl in ’83 and that was it.” That’s it? “That’s all it took.”
What about the other guys? “We’re all buddies,” one of them said, “so Tony made us all Redskins fans.” I pointed out that Tony must be quite the charismatic cult leader, and he just laughed it off. Just like you’d expect a cult leader to do, really.
I figured they all must be Shaun Suisham fans, right? He’s one of the eleven Canadian players in the league. They all nodded, but the most enthusiastic Suisham supporter was the one guy who doesn’t appear in the picture — the quiet one wearing a Detroit Lions jersey. “He’s on my fantasy team,” he said, a bit sheepishly. “You have to follow the scoring.”
One question nagged at me through all of this, though: doesn’t Canada have its own football league? One whose slogan is, in fact, “This is OUR League”?Asking them this resulted in an enormous clamor of voices, so I can’t tell who’s saying what. Here’s the tumult:
“The CFL is terrible!”
“There’s only three downs!”
“If you miss a field goal, you get a point just for trying!”
Well, it’s nice to give points for effort, right?
“No! No! There’s too much kicking!”
“And it’s TERRIBLE!”
“Just the people in Toronto,” said Ken. “The other cities are CFL cities. But I would trade the entire CFL for one NFL franchise.”
Hey, I said, don’t let the folks in Buffalo hear you say that.
“No, we don’t want the Bills. Some OTHER NFL franchise.”
So now you know: there were at least four Canadian fans in the building yesterday who were NOT related to Shaun Suisham, along with one Canadian Detroit fan who was absolutely thrilled with Suisham’s four FG performance.