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'Redskins, I Hail Thee Again'


By Joshua M. Sharfstein

I bet you thought they couldn't do it.

Down 21 points with 10 minutes left in the third quarter, the Washington Redskins began a comeback destined for the record books. Twenty unanswered points. A team-record 674 total yards. An NFL-record 39 first downs. A 41-38 overtime win over the Detroit Lions.

Only a true Redskin fan can appreciate the beauty of the victory. I could almost taste the 13 fabulous catches by veteran Art Monk and smell the gutsiness of "Hog" Joe Jacoby, coming off the bench to replace injured All-Pro offensive lineman Jim Lachey. And the coup de grace: an unthinkable quarterback draw by aging Jeff Rutledge with under 30 seconds left and no timeouts.

It was 100 percent pure Joe Gibbs coaching genius.

Lesser fans may have faltered down the stretch. They might have given up at halftime--or even earlier. But not me. I kept the flame of hope burning for the blessed burgundy and gold. Hail! Hail! Hail to the Redskins!

Okay, I'll fess up. Last September, it was me who wrote an article in these pages entitled "Redskins, I Can Hail Thee No Longer." Citing Redskins support for Oliver North and and Gibbs' opposition to the Last Temptation of Christ, I wrote that I was "losing my allegiance to the team of my youth." In my most shameful moment, I even lambasted the team for failing to make the playoffs.

But I can explain my despicable behavior. That article wasn't the result of any lapse in my fanatical devotion to the Redskins. It was one sickening manifestation of a total transformation of my personality--perpetrated by my roommate, an evil Dallas Cowboys fan if there ever was one.

While I slept, he would sneak into my room and hum the Cowboys' fight song. After waking me into a hypnotic trance, he would shock me if I smiled at the mention of Doug Williams, Gary Clark or the Fun Bunch. In my most horrifying humiliation, he forced me to write that article, threatening that if I didn't, he would secretly cancel my applications to medical school.

In other words, I had no choice. All right. That story isn't exactly true, either (although my roommate is a Cowboys fan). The truth is that by last September, my mind had meshed with the Harvard mentality--win, win, win. Rah, rah, rah.

If it wasn't Number One, I didn't want to be associated with it.

I couldn't live with myself supporting a team that blew leads on a regular basis and supplied the Cowboys with their only win. It was bad for my self-esteem. It was bad for my resume. Admitting to a medical school interviewer that I was a Redskins' fan, I reasoned, would be tantamount to stamping "LOSER" across my face.

And then it happened.

Art Monk made a clutch third-down catch in overtime. Chip Lohmiller hit the field goal to win the game. The Redskins were winners again.

Oliver North? Who cares? The Last Temptation of Christ? Never saw it anyway. If the 'Skins were back on track, I was back on board.

Call me a bandwagon fan--so was the United States in World War I. You say I desert my team when its losing? I say that's the best time to desert it. Show me a fairweather fan and I'll show you a fan who doesn't catch a cold.

Redskins, I hail thee again.

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