Friday, August 27, 2010

Washington W(h)ine

FedEx Field on the east side of the Capital Beltway replaced old RFK Stadium in 1997 as the home of the Washington Redskins. The red, white, green and purple exterior doesn’t do it any favors, though, making the whole thing look like an upside down circus tent completely unrelated to the burgundy and gold of the home team until you get inside. It is nonetheless an impressive building of over 91,000 seats and that is coming from me, a die-hard fan of the Dallas Cowboys.

I used to live in the Washington, DC area and, you can imagine, long enjoyed being able to wear my team colors safely on the streets thanks to Dallas routinely thumping Washington, at one point running up a winning streak of ten games in a row. In those years one could attend a “home” game of the Washington Redskins and see nearly a third of the stands sporting silver and blue. Three times so far I have been to Fed Ex for regular season games with each one very enjoyable despite my being on the receiving end of some memorable mishaps and good-natured guff from the Redskins faithful.

Saturday, December 24, 2005 was the last game of the season at FedEx and I had managed to score a pair of tickets for myself and a Redskins idolizing co-worker to see the Redskins host the New York Giants. I went low-key that day with a favorite sweater that had a small Cowboys star over the left chest and with good reason. Upon taking our seats in the upper stands, two Redskins fans in front of us noticed my sweater and it was on.

“Whatchoo doin’ here, man? This ain’t yo’ game,” said the one.
“Oh, I know why he here,” said the other. “He still in shock over that butt-kicking (NOT what they said) from las’ week!”
“Hee hee! Yea, man, he still sitting there with that deer-in-da-headlights look on his face!”

See, the Cowboys had come to town the week before and been thoroughly pasted 35-7, scoring their one touchdown towards the end of the game in “garbage time.” The Redskins were in the middle of a Herculean effort to make the play-offs and that Saturday went on to defeat the Giants 35-20, ending the season on a five-game win streak for a 10-6 record and a wild card berth. For me it was nice to just sit back and enjoy the atmosphere since my team was out of contention and I was no longer emotionally invested. We had a ball.

The fifth week of the 2007 season saw me back in the stands at Fed Ex, this time fully decked out in my Cowboys team jersey. As I emerged from the bleacher tunnel in to daylight of the upper stands I was immediately greeted with a resounding chorus of boos; this for a game between Washington and Detroit.

“Whatchoo doing here? This ain’t your house! This ain’t even your game!” I just held up four fingers to signal the Cowboys record of 4-0 at that point and they all settled back in to their seats grousing good-naturedly. The Redskins put on a clinic that day, whipping the Lions 34-3. To add to the excitement in my part of the stadium two other Cowboys fans, also in team jerseys, were ejected for fighting in the neighboring section of seats – as if! One of the fans behind me just couldn’t resist this golden opportunity.

“Hey officer,” he shouted, putting his arm around my shoulders and pointing down at my head from above. “Come git this’un over here, too!” The crowd roared.

I went back to FedEx Field for the final game of that season on December 30th against Dallas. The Cowboys had nothing to lose since they had already won the division and home field advantage. Out of contention and also with nothing to lose didn’t stop the Redskins Nation from itching for a fight. They dismembered a totally disinterested Dallas team 27-6.

I enjoyed finally being at a game for one of the greatest rivalries in football despite the omen of the outcome and the ignominious end of the Dallas season a few weeks later. Before the game I was tailgating with friends and stood too close to the space heater which promptly burned a hole in my jeans and melted part of my ding-dang jersey!

Not to worry, we meet again this Sunday, opening weekend, in Washington. Joy! Because despite all the other leads Dallas holds over Washington, 59-39-2 in the series, 4-0 in shutouts or 5-3 in Superbowls, the sweetest one for me is this: Since it opened my Cowboys still have more match wins at FedEx Field (8-5) than the Redskins do!

Whenever we get together I just jangle my house keys in front of my seething Redskin loving buddy!

Gotta go.

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