Om Posted March 9, 2006 Share Posted March 9, 2006 Hi. My name is Mark ... “Om” in certain circles ... and by your leave, I have a story to tell. In the weeks leading up to the 2000 NFL Draft, I had just recently discovered for myself this newfangled deal called the “internet.” During breaks and slow times at work, I was stretching my legs in cyberspace and seeing just what was out there (besides porn, which, being of the male persuasion, I’d naturally checked out from home first). At some point, it occurred to me this might be a cool way to read up on who the Washington Redskins might be considering drafting with the #2 and #3 overall picks. LaVar or Courtney? Or both? Samuels? A trade-down with the 49ers? There were seriously burning questions, requiring serious answers, and the Washington Post and Times sure has hell weren’t up to the task. Not to the level, frequency or depth of analysis and detail I was looking for. I must have hit 50 Mock Draft sites ... and soon found myself going back to several of of them every day, often more than once, to see if there were any changes. Yeah, I’ll admit at first I was kinda embarrassed at my inability to stop, but I didn’t fight it very hard. Hell, I had so few vices left at that point in my life, I figured why fight it? In the course of my travels, I ran across a couple of these fledgling things called “message boards,” but I didn’t stop for long at any of them. To me, they were indistinguishable from the “chatrooms” I’d heard so many people sneer and scoff at, telling anyone who’d listen that no intelligent life resided there. And from what little I saw in the brief moments I did swing by places like the old TSN boards, the scoffers were balls on. Then, at some point I stumbled across a site called “ExtremeSkins.com.” Gotta admit, at first blush the name struck me as cutesy. Kind of, well, pandering to a crowd far younger than I. But for whatever reason, I did find myself looking over a few of the “posts” in a few of the “threads” (as I soon learned they were called), and was more than a little surprised to find a couple of people on there writing, like, paragraphs. Paragraphs about actual, thoughtful, interesting subjects. People sharing supported opinions ... with even a nod toward respect for the language. People writing songs that voices never share. Seriously ... I found dudes sharing insight on the Washington Redskins that was, frankly, eye-opening. Confession: in my world at that time, I was the leading authority on the Washington Redskins. My entire extended group of NFL-lovin’ friends, family and colleagues all said so. God’s honest truth is to that point in my life I had never run across another human who could stick with me once we really got into it—from Redskins history to their current roster to their positional needs, etc. No, despite what you’re thinking, it wasn’t hubris on my part; I had simply had never met anyone as passionate or borderline obsessed about my team as I. But here ... here there were a few dudes that got my attention. So naturally, I left. I mean, it couldn’t be, right? Not on some chatroom on the internet. A few days later I came back. Quietly. Just to verify for myself that what I thought I’d seen was an anomaly; a mirage. I gotta tell ya, it was a serious ego hit. Found myself reading along and realizing that while I might have known my Skins **** pretty good, there were many others out there who were every bit as schooled in the big picture as I was, but were also far more up-to-the-minute on the details ... and that many of them were thinking through and discussing certain aspects about the team in a manner I’d never had need, or the opportunity, to explore. It was humbling. I quickly discovered it was something else too, though. A challenge. Here, perhaps, was something I could use to my advantage—a way to raise my game. A way I could learn, in the privacy of my own den/office, and take that knowledge out into the world ... where naturally I would pass it off as my own. Hey, if I can’t go to jail for it, I’m not above stealin’ ****. But a strange thing happened. In those first few heady days of discovery, when I was just about to register to this “Extremeskins Message Board” (which ran in the neighborhood of 200 members at the time), in order to dip my toes in the water and test myself against some of these other serious Redskins fans ... I hesitated. Why? Because I watched as people who brought even semi-weak arguments, or even semi-faulty knowledge, or even just plain semi-stupidity to the board, were exposed by the group. Quickly and efficiently. Not with name-calling or rudeness, mind you, but with informed, articulate, concise and witheringly on-point counter-arguments that left the unsuspecting semi-offender a smoking pile of goo. No sir, not me. If I was going to be a part of this community, I was going to BE somebody. I was going to not only be a respected and valued member of the group, I was flat-out going to reinvent MB dialogue. I was going to become an internet Legend, so damn insightful and witty and articulate that surely one day I’d be “discovered” like all those ectomorphic supermodels do in coffeeshops, and someone would offer me millions if I’d only share my sparklingly unique self with the world, on their dime. Ahem. So as you can surely appreciate, I was rightfully just intimidated enough to not register for a while. No way was I weighing in until I could add something ... or at least not until I felt I could do so without being exposed as a dope. So instead I came back every day for several weeks, reading, judging, seeing who was who ... getting a “feel,” finding the “tone,” seeking out a niche that was theretofore (!) unfilled. Whether in hindsight I succeeded in that desire or not remains a question to this day, but that’s not important right now. Fact is, the day did finally come when I finally felt I was “ready.” So I gritted my teeth and jumped. The Skins were prepping to play the Baltimore in the preseason that weekend, and a few of the members were making sport of the Ravens. So I posted, breaking my message board cherry ... Quoth the Ravens: “Mookie Moore?” Hey, sue me. And a wonderful thing happened. A couple the more established members actually quoted my quote, and said it was funny. One of them even used a dopey smilie thing, but he liked my post and welcomed me to the board. More importantly, no one called me a dope. Which for whatever reason mattered to me. So I sat on that post for a few days, enjoying the feeling of maybe, just maybe, at 39 years of age, having at long last found an outlet for my relatively strong opinions, expressed in my own individual brand of perspective and humor, on the Washington Redskins and life in general. And having done so among a group of similarly-minded souls, all seeking a place where being an un-apologetically obsessed Redskins fan—with something meaningful to say and the willingness/ability to say it in semi-literate, semi-adult fashion—was a lifetime ticket to a brotherhood. In other words, I was pretty tickled. And I was hooked. To Be Continued ... :helmet: Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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