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The Sound of Silence


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Now be nice. I'm no Om or Art. But I tried to shake up my usual stuff on my blog today.

Hey Redskins fan. Are you feeling a little off? Like something just doesn’t seem right, but you just can’t place your finger on it. Don’t worry Skins fan, I’ve figured it out. I know why things seem a little weird right now. For the first time in nearly forever there is no big issue with the Redskins. There is absolutely nothing wrong, just a quiet confidence that you know your team can win every week.

You, as a long-standing fan, might forget what this feels like. You have a little swagger in your step. You don’t spend all your time thinking in terms of ‘if only's’ or ‘yeah buts’. Suddenly the when the quarterback drops back to pass, there isn’t a feeling a dread that something terrible is about to happen. When the Skins fumble the ball on the two yard line when driving to take the lead, the opponent doesn’t pick that ball up and go 98 yards for a back breaking touchdown. The bounces start to go your way.

It used to be this was a common feeling for Redskins fans. Back in the 80s and early 90s, if you were lucky enough to be a fan back then, you knew no other way. The Redskins might not have won every big game they played back then, but you always knew they had a chance. You never went into a game thinking about a sure loss. No matter whom the quarterback was or who was hurt and unable to play, you always believed the Skins would win.

The only constant for all those years was the coach. Your coach. He wasn’t a screamer. He wasn’t intimidating. He was someone you’d go up to on the street and think there is no way he’s the one who makes this work. The guy who could take many different players from many different backgrounds and turn them into a team. Those teams were never exactly the same, but they were always a Team. Every Sunday, they went to play and gave their all. Every Sunday you’d expect a win, and even when it didn’t happen you were proud to be a fan of the Team.

Then your coach left. And then that feeling left. Year after year of screw ups and controversy stripped it from you. Instead of expecting victory, you waited for the worst. Your team went from a league powerhouse to a laughing stock. And the doubt crept in. It didn’t matter what happened. Coaches and players came in with the promise of a return to glory, but it never came.

Every once in a while you’d feel that old confidence seep back in, but every time it left as quick as it came. Whether it be your star draft pick quarterback being a bust, or the star college coach not working out, nothing went your way. And there was always noise. Players whining about the game plan, or fans calling for a new quarterback. Every year new stars would come and flame out. And the doubts grew, until you forgot all about that old feeling.

Then the coach returned. Your coach. The one who brought the feeling all those years ago. But still you resisted. You wanted to feel it again, but it was gone. Try as you may, you’d been hurt too many times before.

The first year of your coach’s return wasn’t pretty. A few old-timers would tell you to be patient that he’s building something. But the doubt lived on in your mind. It was too deeply ingrained to forget without seeing results on the field. And as the return hit year number 2, the doubts were there, as strong as ever.

And as you watched the big Monday night game against your archrivals, you saw what you seemed to always see: Your team not showing up when it mattered most; your team letting you down. But something happened; two long touchdowns gave your team a win. And as you hooted and hollered with your friends, you thought ‘Wow, I can’t remember the last time the Skins won a game like that’. The doubts started to fade, and the feeling began to return.

It wasn’t a big bang of a moment when you first noticed it. There were just hints and glimmers here and there. When your team dismantled San Francisco, you almost expected it to happen. When your team played terrible in New York, your first thought wasn’t ‘here we go again’ but ‘I would have never expected that.’ When Philadelphia drove down the field trying to tie the game, you didn’t dread what was coming, you felt something good was about to happen.

And now you come to this week and the game in Tampa Bay. You look around at your fellow fans and hear nothing. No complaining players, no quarterback issue, absolutely nothing. Nothing but a quiet confidence that something good is going to happen. And man, does it feel good.

Thanks Coach.

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