The Canadian Redskins Cult Leader

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!”

“It’s TERRIBLE!”

“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!”

I was genuinely taken aback by this. I assumed that Canadians loved the CFL (and Bryan Adams, and poutine). Are my stereotypes completely wrong? Does everyone in Canada hate the CFL this much?

“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.

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9 Responses

  1. Great article about London Fletcher’s defensive POY possibilities on SI.com today.

  2. CFL had Ricky Williams, but I think its just because pot it easier to get ahold of in Canada.

  3. Loved the post about the Suishams. Now that’s support!

  4. I’m a Redskins fan from Montreal, Canada. I also HATE the CFL. I won’t go into all the reasons but I’d rather watch 1 NFL game than an entire season of the CFL.

  5. I’m the biggest canadian redskins fan there is from london ontario canada… i go to washington every year to watch 1 home game but it just so happend the skins played in detroit this year…HAIL TO THE REDSKINS!!!

  6. Another Canadian Redskins fan…can’t wait to hit FedEX on December 21 to see the Eagles get clipped!

  7. While I appreciate the acknowledgement of the Candian fans (we had a few in our hotel), as one of the DC diehard fans that made the trip to the Motor City I left feeling a little less than acknowledged.

    We arrived in Detroit by the bus loads and filled up a good portion of several of the local hotels. We had packed our Redskin gear, prepared to weather the storm of a forcasted cold and rainy Detroit day, just to support our team. So needless to say once we arrived at the covered Ford Field on what turned out to be a very nice sunny afternoon, we slowly peeled away the layers of extra clothing, and put away our seat cushions, as the realization set in that this was not going to be the teeth chattering experience we would expect at FedEx field.

    I ran down to the bottom of the 100 section stands amongst several of my fellow Skins fans, united by our overpriced Redskin gear and paraphanelia and early arrival time. We then waited to snap some pictures, or just catch a glimpse of our favorite players during their individual warmups. It was much to my surprise and disappointment when one by one players exited the locker room with fans shouting their names, looking straight ahead and refusing to so much as throw up their hand to wave hello or smile for a quick picture. There were a few exceptions to the rule that either immediately acknowledged the fans or turned around after our shouts of disapproval to sign some autographs and say hello. These included Shawn Springs (who was so patient and humble), Jason Campbell,Carlos Rodgers (both of which took a moment to come down of their high horses), Landry and a few others. The overwhelming majority however namely, Chris Cooley(I was extra upset considering I had on his jersey), Santana Moss, Marcus Washington, Antwaan Randle El, Randy Thomas, Fred Smoot, Jason Taylor, and the leader of them all, Daniel Snyder were less than gracious with their snubs.

    I do realize that these men have a job to do and when at home can probably be a bit overwhelmed by the attention. However, as my mother would say, “even a dog will wag its tail at you”, these men seem to have forgotten about basic manners. The fans have traveled from far and wide to come support you, spent their time and money on behalf of you and you are too good to speak?

    Sure they’re 6-2 now but what about the years when they’ve been 2-6 and we’ve still stuck by their sides, never giving up and willing to go to battle with anyone who had anything bad to say about them? As the Detroit Lions proved, not all teams can say they have fans like that, hence the practically empty stadium on Sunday. They need to learn to start appreciating the role we play and that has the 12th man we deserve the same team respect that is given to the rest of the team!

  8. I went to one of the Spring Training days this year and Marcus Washington and Chris Cooley were signing autographs right after practice while everybody else just bounced to the lockerroom. I think Devin Thomas was out there too. I understand what your saying Valisha but at the same time this is typical and I’m sure most players are preparing and focusing on the game and the majority of them don’t mean disrespect.

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