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I have been a Redskins fan since I was a little girl. Both my parents cheer for the Skins. I distinctly remember playing the "football game" in the car with my dad when he drove me to kindergarten: he'd name either a team or the city, and I had to supply the other half of the name. (To this day I am convinced that the Rams and Raiders are in LA, that the Houston team is named the Oilers, and that the team is the Phoenix Cardinals, not the Arizona Cardinals.)

I remember the Redskins winning the Super Bowl against the Broncos, and again during that period of time where Buffalo got to the Super Bowl every year just to get smacked down by the NFC East repeatedly. There was a time when I could recite the entire first and second string of the Redskins, along with statistics. (That time was in high school. These days, I don't have the time.)

Sure, I root for other teams. I like the Packers (which makes for wonderful hilarity when you live in Chicago, let me tell you), and I cheer for the Panthers and the Jaguars. Yeah, I'm weak vs. big kitties. However, you will never catch me rooting for the Lions. How do the Lions count to ten? 0-1, 0-2, 0-3, 0-4....

But no matter who else I'm cheering for ("whoever's playing against Dallas" is a popular team to support in Chez Meglet), the Redskins are always first in my heart.

It's been really hard to be a Redskins fan since Jack Kent Cooke passed on, I must say. Now, I'm sure Dan Snyder means well, but if the shuffling of personnel and coaching staff has shown me anything in the last decade and a half, it's that Snyder has no clue how to effectively run a football team. That being the case, he needs to sit down, shut up, and let the people who know what they are doing run the franchise. The Redskins are one of the oldest and wealthiest franchises in the NFL, and have one of the most loyal (one might almost say rabid) fan bases. I mean, they're not the Green Bay Packers, but I think Redskins fans are pretty hardcore.

And yet, Snyder is making a series of terrible business decisions that are driving his fans away. Take for example the season ticket debacles, wherein the Redskins franchise management kicks their fans in the teeth repeatedly. (Compare to the treatment that the Nationals and the Capitals gave to fans in similar situations.) And lest we forget, there's always the fact that those much-desired tickets to games like last year's against the Steelers get sold to other teams' fans while bypassing the Skins' own waiting list.

That's not only bad management and a violation of the fans' trust, it's downright bad business from where I'm sitting. Your ongoing ticket purchasers are going to be Redskins fans, not Steelers fans. Why cater to them? (Yeah, fine, I don't like the Steelers. So what?)

I've loved this franchise all my life. It pains me to no longer be able to respect it. Besides the abysmal treatment of loyal fans, there's also the problem of the Redskins just downright being terrible since Mr. Cooke passed. At this point, I think it's safe to say that the problem is probably not with the coaches or the talent (at least not in full.) I can think of few other teams who have shuffled their coaching personnel so much, even in lean years (I mean, heck, Lovie Smith's still coaching the Bears, and Childress is still coaching in Minnesota.) The Redskins have some of the best talent in the League (at least on paper.) And yet they don't look like a team. Watch a New England Patriots game sometime; those men are absolutely on the same page (and, as they demonstrated last year, they can hold it together decently even without Brady.) The Redskins are wearing the same colours, but not playing on the same team.

It's easy to blame the head coach, but I'll make the point that Joe Gibbs couldn't bring this team out of its slump – he who coached them to two Super Bowl victories in my memory, and I'm only twenty-seven. We've gone through, what, five head coaches during Snyder's ownership? And none of them managed to succeed. That tells me that something is really, really wrong here.

But what do I know? I've only been a Redskins fan my entire life, and I'm just some person who watches a team I love fall apart under new ownership. What lessons am I supposed to take from that, I wonder?
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Meaghan Bullock

November 2012

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