Tuesday, December 23: How To Make A Win Even Better

Drew Tong and Kim Davison – SkinsFanInTennessee and KnoxSkinsGal, if you know them from ExtremeSkins – are proud first year Redskins season ticket holders. They sit up in the last row of section 415, and they haven’t missed a home game this year despite living in Knoxville, Tennessee. (The drive up takes about eight hours, and they make a weekend of it with the rest of the ES crew.)

For Sunday’s game, Tong decided to do something special for Davison. He managed to get hold of Dream Seats, down in the corner of the endzone directly next to the Redskins tunnel, and pregame field passes.

“Kim had no idea about the Dream Seats or field passes,” he says. “She just thought we were going to our regular seats in the upper deck until we got to the security check and I handed her the dream seat ticket. I just told her Merry Christmas.”

This would probably have been enough of a surprise on its own. So when Tong dropped to one knee in that muddy corner of the field and pulled out a ring, Davison was just about speechless.

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A Slightly Confusing Jersey

This jersey was spotted outside last night’s game.

thomas70th

On first glance, this isn’t too unusual: it’s the Redskins 70th anniversary throwback jersey modeled on the uniforms worn from 1965 to 1969 and worn during the 2002 season. Number 11 doesn’t look too strange, as it belonged to then-rookie first-round pick Patrick Ramsey.

But the Devin Thomas nameplate confuses things. Thomas was sixteen years old that season, in his last year at Huron High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The rookie has been unremarkable thus far, and seemed like a strange choice for a customized throwback.

“I got it for fifty bucks,” the fan wearing it said. “I got it from a guy, but it’s completely authentic. And Thomas ran for a touchdown last week!” That’s true, and the 70th anniversary unis were definitely stylish. It still seems like an odd pairing, though.

Thursday, October 30: ROADTRIP! From Chicago to Detroit to See the Redskins

I had heard that a busload of Redskins fans from Chicago were coming to the Detroit game, so I figured I’d spend some time pregame at their tailgate, getting their story and seeing what kind of spread they set out. As tailgates generally take place outside the stadium and this one included an entire busload of fans in Redskins gear, I figured it wouldn’t be too tough to find.

I failed to reckon on the fact that Ford Field is located in downtown Detroit, and the only parking lots that allow tailgating are literally more than a mile from the stadium, so — predictably — it took a little longer to find than I expected, and I had to call a friend at the tailgate to find out specifically where they were.

She gave me the cross streets, but sounded perplexed. “I don’t really know,” she said, “but it looks like we’re tailgating under some kind of parking structure in a meat packing district.” Which was about as accurate a description as I would be able to come up with.

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Wet, Artistic Fans Carve Redskins Pumpkins

One thing I may not have made enough of in my last post about the fans who wait to see the buses off is the level of effort they put into everything they do. After the impressive hats for the Dallas game, the Eagles send-off featured rubber chickens on spears and a well-executed Chicken Little poster. This past Saturday, the fans stood through the rain to cheer the departure of the buses and display their Wizard of Oz themed Lions sign.

Then, presumably soaking wet, they left the park and carved Redskins-themed pumpkins, which were waiting for us when we got back Sunday night, lit from the inside by battery-powered “candles.” I didn’t get pictures of them at the time, but they were still there this morning. I can barely carve the traditional three triangles and a crescent, so things like this and the Cooleys pumpkins really stagger me.

More pumpkins after the jump.
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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.

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Redskins @ Eagles – Eagles Fans Sort of Live Up To The Hype

Yes, there were eggs. The bus ahead of me got hit — defensive coordinator Greg Blache reportedly didn’t even flinch when the window next to him got splattered — but the throws at my bus all missed. This was nice from a not-getting-hit-with-eggs perspective, but disappointing from a photo op perspective. (They were impressive throws, though: the buses were on an elevated highway, and the fans were tossing the eggs from the parking lot below with some serious velocity at a moving target.)

As promised, even the youngest of the fans helps to give the buses the finger as we drive by, whole families gathered to spend some pregame quality time flipping off a few vehicles.

And also as promised, the fans come prepared with very specific material to shout at the players during warmups. Chris Cooley, Rock Cartwright, and Colt Brennan were coming under fire as I walked by; they were doing their best to ignore it, but Chris Samuels gave back a little bit, shouting “Is this brotherly love?”

The most striking thing about the fans, though, wasn’t WHAT they were yelling, but how often they would repeat the exact same phrase, with minor alterations to syntax and word order. My notes from one guy’s taunts of Cooley:

“Hey, Cooley, keep your boxers on next time! Keep your boxers on, Cooley! Tell Cooley to keep his drawers on! Cooley! Boxers! Cooley, wear some pants! Hey, Cooley! You forgot your boxers!” And so on. At some point, it moved from menacing to annoying, and from there it was a short trip to amusing.

Just about everyone on the staff has warned me to be aware, keep my head on a swivel, pay attention, stay prepared, all that good stuff, and I certainly will. So far, though, the main danger seems to stem from having variations on the same phrase repeated at me until I get too bored to resist.

Sunday, October 5: Gameday, Redskins @ Eagles – A Flashback

After we got to Philadelphia yesterday, I walked over to Reading Terminal Market — not to plumb the mind of the average Philly fan, not to see what the read the buzz on the streets of the city, nothing like that at all. I just went because I was hungry, and I had heard that the Market had a bunch of different food options, and was a pretty neat place to boot. Both of these things turned out to be true, and I got to hear a whole bunch of conversations about today’s game as a special bonus.

Most of the chatter revolved around the fact that the Redskins were apparently staying in a nearby hotel (true), and that their buses had blocked traffic when they arrived (true), and that this somehow reflected some level of contempt for the average Philadelphian and his need to commute (emphatically not true). I overheard a rumor that one of the Redskins coaches had said in the elevator that they had brought body bags for the Eagles. (I cannot verify this, of course, but I can’t imagine any of our coaches doing that in this situation, and I have a suspicion that this person was muddling an eighteen year old story.) A few people opined on the differences between FedExField and RFK Stadium, which seemed irrelevant to today’s game in Philly, but was still amusing to hear.

The most interesting thing I heard, though, was a story I had never heard before. A woman waiting in line for a cheesesteak at Rick’s held forth on the game between the Redskins and Eagles on December 7, 1941, the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and I found myself scribbling down notes as she talked.

According to her rendition, the game started before the attack. Fans in the stands and players on the field were unaware that the bombing had happened, the game went on as planned, and the Redskins went into the half with a large lead. At halftime, though, the teams were notified of the attack, and many players were called to active duty on the spot, including both the first and second string quarterbacks for Washington. As a result, the Eagles rallied to win behind an enormous second half.

This, I thought, was a terrific story, and it certainly put the lie to my idea that the Eagles/Redskins rivalry was only about the fans. In fact, I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t heard this story before, so I headed back to my hotel room to look it up.

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