I know a few of you differ from the mindset I’m talking about here, but the majority of you will be in the same boat.
For me, as a sports fan I’ve always found it a necessary survival mechanism to separate what I THINK will happen from what I HOPE will happen. Meaning, if I spent my sports fan-life only really being interested when I had a deep belief there was gold at the end of the rainbow, well, maybe I’d be more stable, but I’d also be far more bored.
So for me it’s all about the technical possibility. In 1992 I had very, very little hope we could beat the Cowboys in a potential NFC Championship game in Dallas... I am quite sure we would have gotten slaughtered in that game. However, that didn’t matter to me— I was (and remain) crushed we didn’t get the opportunity when we fumbled away the 49ers game.
In the Norv years I knew the odds of wining in the playoffs wer gonna be REALLY slim, but I still wanted to get there...
You get my point.
So here we sit at 5-3 at the midway point of the season. First place in division. And I think the WORST grade you could give the Redskins for the first half is a solid B. And that’s the WORST grade you give give them. In other words, we’ve played half a season and the results have been quite positive. Now, the path they’ve taken to get to 5-3 is far from pretty... but I’ve seen 3-5 enough to know that 5-3 is ALWAYS better, period.
And now the crushing news about the crazy injuries and signing half an OL off the street. It’s really frustrating and deflating.
Of course my head is telling me we are in big trouble and our first place status won’t last much longer.
But here’s the deal. As long as the games matter when they kickoff, they will still matter to me.
Consider this: let’s say we hit rock bottom and this one game losing streak turns into a four game losing streak. Yep, let’s say we lose to Tampa, Houston, and Dallas. And let’s say the Eagles WIN two out of three... The reality is that our game on MNF in Philly would STILL be for first place in the division that night.
Yeah sure, if we do lose four in a row to fall to 5-6 will there be a feeling of impending doom heading to Philly? Yeah, no doubt. But at the same time I’m a Redskins fan. And if the Redskins are playing a game in December for first place in the division I am GOING to care no matter how much my brain tells me not to. And understand I’ve laid out what is likely the worst case scenario (this is also assuming Dallas isn’t running the table at the same time).
In other words, there is really no escaping this season as a fan at this point. It’s probably going to take a five game losing streak to do that. Especially when you consider things are setting up much more likely this year that at least one 9-7 team gets in the NFC playoffs.
So, while it might be nice to say “eh, we’re screwed” and check out for the year, I certainly can’t do that. The whole “well we’d be one and done in playoffs anyway” mentality has always been crap to me. Always felt those dudes must be a blast at parties.
So here we sit in an odd position as Redskins fans: The Curse of First Place.