The following was going to be an ES Fan View piece, but Art beat me to it & I was a day behind in submitting for our deadline. I started to just post it anyways, but Art & Old Fan both the whole 'Believe' thing covered that day. So, I figured I'd hold it for the blog intro & let the other two threads have a few days to let the 'Believe' thing wear off a bit. So, here...we...go.
Believe In Now
Believe in now. That was the NFL's message slogan back during the grueling days of O.T.A.s, Mini Camps, and Training Camps as teams readied themselves for the upcoming season. You couldn't turn on the NFL Network without being bombarded with those adds. And great adds they were too. As it seems their slogan slowly worked it's way into a lot of people's subconsciousness. More specifically, the Jim Zorn lead Washington Redskins.
After a sneak peak at the first time player caller and first time NFL Head Coach's newest offense for Jason Campbell to learn, it seemed like a lot of us fans started to believe as well. Although there were a few skeptics that did speak up and mention that it did look like Zorn had done a little bit of game planning for the Peyton Manning-less led Colts. Then came Preseason wins over the Bills & the NY Bretts errr...Jets. Both of which were by a mere three points, but a win is a win.
Then the wheels came off as Jason Taylor went down with a leg injury. Zorn's Redskins lost not only there single big name off season trade acquisition, any and all apparent interest in continuing to play meaningless games. And they lost this meaningless game to the tune of 47-3. For fans, Preseason or not, that's the type of lopsided score that makes it pretty hard to believe in anything other then the thought process of 'sigh' 'Same old Redskins. Always teasing, then breaking hearts'. Another meaningless three point loss to returning defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and the Jags didn't help a lot of fans believe anything positive was going to happen when the games started to actually count.
Although, through the days leading up to the extra special Thursday night Season Opener against the NY Giants, fans started to believe again, that their Redskins would go up to NY and knock the defending Super Bowl champs off their perch. On the very night they were to receive their Super Bowl rings. Unfortunately, the G-Men had their recently retired Micheal Strahan there to kick things off and fire up not only the crowd, but his former team mates as well.
Then with that being a Thursday game, the rookie head coach & signal caller & the QB he was brought in to mold had a few extra days to before their next outing. Of course, so did the fans. And difference here as, it was the fans that stopped believing. Fortunately for them, Zorn's Redskins didn't. Instead, according to reports, ended up trusting each other more. Respecting each other more. And believing in each other still.
And it paid off as Zorn's Redskins took on and defeated the Saints in their home opener at FedEx Field. They then followed that up with a win at home over an over rated Cardinals team. With two back to back wins at home, Jason Campbell, Jim Zorn, & the Redskins had fans believing again. Now this point was crucial as next up was Dallas Week. But not only was it Dallas Week, but was to be the final regular season game that the Redskins play in Texas Stadium.
Now, keep in mind that Zorn claimed he didn't know much on the rivalry between the Skins and the Boys. He thought is was like the old Seahawks and Raiders rivalry. After watching his game plan unfold, you'd think that someone sat him down & explained it to him in great detail. My guess would be either Buges, Bubba Tyer, or Dan Snyder himself. And to drive the point of it further home, a send off at Redskins Park by the fans may have had a little to do with it as well.
Zorn's Redskins went down there and played physical football. Ask Dan, he'll tell you that when we play physical, we win. And he's exactly right. They roughed up T.O. They abused Pacman Jones. They shut down Marion Barber. And after the game, they pissed off back up Tank Johnson. Roy Williams had to have been happy to actually been out with an injury since that would be a game the 'Tana Man couldn't burn him.
And then a funny thing happened. The team had been believing all along. The fans still believed, although some still had cases of Norvitis during the game. But it was the media who started to believe. The same media that had already anointed the the previously 3-0 undefeated Cowboys as this years Super Bowl champs.
Interesting thing here. There was a quote from Clinton Portis somewhere during Preseason that kept me believing. I don't remember it word for word, so I'll paraphrase. 'It doesn't matter what the score is or what the down and distance is. Coach Zorn, he's got a play to get out of it.'
Now, come this Sunday at the Linc, the Zorn led Redskins are going to go punch the Eagles in the mouth. And leave out with another road win against another divisional opponent.
Believe that. Believe now.
Blog begins NOW.
6:45PM: Arrive in Philly from Dulles. I still can't believe (there's that word again )that if Dan Snyder is as money hungry as the haters say he is, that he has yet to open a Skins store in the airport.
6:50PM: Head off to baggage claim & then call for a shuttle to the team hotel. The guy at Lady Liberty Cab says they'll be there in 15-20 minutes. Forty minutes later, no shuttle. Call them back. Again, I'm told they'll be there in 15-20 minutes. This goes on for roughly an hour.
8:15PM: Finally make it to the team hotel. As I'm checking in, Art calls. I inform him the shuttle took it's own sweet time in getting to the airport, but that I'm at the front desk checking in. Take the elevator up to the room with Art, Larry, & crew. I get off on the floor I've been assigned & head down the hall. Get to the room's door, pull out the room key & I notice this one is different. It's a team logo'd key card. Figuring it's something new, since we're not in the same hotel we were in last year, no big deal. Still cool though. At this point, the highlight of this trip happens. Emphasises on 'trip'. I open the door, and come face to face with Doc Walker. We both exchange a WTF look & promptly both introduce ourselves to each other. For those that don't know, Doc & I share not only the same first name, but also the same last name. After a good laugh about it, Doc calls down to the front desk & gets everything straight. Seems the hotel saw both names, & cancelled one as they thought it was a duplicate.
9:00PM: We head out in search drinks & possibly the Kembo vs Shamrock fight. We end up at the Hard Rock with the Phillies game on. For some reason, it seems Champs across from the Hard Rock is closed. But it doesn't matter to me. I fall in love with the Hard Rock as soon as we walk in because hanging there is Randy Rhoads Flying V. Philly now has one redeeming quality.
10:30PM After a few Jack N Cokes & a burger, I head back to the hotel. Time to actually unpack a bit, check e-mail, get this blog going, & get ready for tomorrow. I believe (there it is again ) the plan is to leave out around 9ish for the Linc. So, we'll pick this back up then.
7:30AM: My internal clock wakes me up half an hour before the alarm goes off. Instead of trying to snooze for 30 minutes longer, I go ahead & hit the shower & get ready to go.
8:00AM Call Art to see if he's ready yet. Says he needs about 20 minutes as he has to call for the car as well.
8:05AM Head out to the elevator & run into Larry. Quick discussion on what we both think will happen. I tell him that we're going to punch 'em in the teeth. We both agree that may be a bit harder to do if Springs is out.
8:30AM: Art makes it downstairs. We go to load up the Explorer & head out.
8:45AM: Arrive at the Linc & drive around in circles trying to get into the parking lot. Seems they've gated the main entrance into our lot. By the time we do get to our lot, they've opened the main gate to it. We do have to give props to the Philly fans. Evidently they open the tailgating lots a lot earlier then FedEx. Looks like these guys have been here tailgating since last night. They're out in force this early in the morning.
9:00AM: We hit the Press Box, check the seating chart & drop off our gear. Off to get omelets.
12:46PM: Back up from the field. Quick pre game update. Stadium is about half full. Not a lot of Skins fans here yet. Hopefully we've travelled well. Back down to the field for kick off. Back after the game.
I TOLD YOU GUYS TO BELIEVE.
I've got about 700 pics I've re-sized & uploaded. Still working on getting them coded & up, but enjoy the above pic. This was after ARE's TD pass to Cooley. I know I sure enjoyed taking it. Look close enough & you'll see the little fella's about to cry.
It's nice to call it & be right.
The Redskins, down by a quick 14 points to start this NFC East slugfest, remained poised. They stuck to their battle plan & worked over Philly like Rocky on a speed ball. Several 3 point field goals later, the Skins land a body blow on a gadget play touchdown from Randel-El to Cooley. This sets up Philly for the Portis punch 'em in the teeth knockout blow.
I'm certain that Philly fans just don't have the brain power to separate movies from reality. It's bad enough that they use film clips of Stallone's old craggy arse to fire up the fans or inspire the team or whatever it is they're trying to do. But them they bring out Marky Mark because he played an Eagle in a movie? Seriously. It's a freaking MOVIE.
During the ARE to Cooley touchdown, I'm standing next to the guy that Art affectionately refers to as hailredskins *****. I tell him 'That''s it. GAME OVER.' He tells me I sound like Sonny every time the Skins score, saying that's the ball game. I tell him that's because Sonny & I always right.
During the Portis touchdown, I'm in the end zone with our good buddy, Mr Clean. I tell him we're changing our name to the Washington RAIDskins because we just kill cockroach teams dead. We break their will, punch them in the teeth, & finish them off. We share a good laugh over that, then get a few shots of the Philly fans exiting the Linc like roaches when the kitchen lights get turned on. I'm told that it was the same way last week in Dallas. Couldn't have happened to two better fan bases.
These Redskins seem to like to play the role of Landlord & just evict opposing team fans from their own stadium.
Earlier in the game, I notice Jason Taylor is on the sidelines. For those thinking he just can't wait to go Hollywood, let me tell you now, the guy is a becoming a leader on this team. If it wasn't for the bandage on his leg you wouldn't even know he's out with an injury. He was shouting out words of encouragement to the younger players & high fiving guys after making plays as they continued to rotate in & out.
Make no mistake though, this is still London Fletcher's team on D.
Later back at the hotel, I run into CP's mom. We both give the local Eagle fans a good laughing at. Momma Portis tells me she's staying the night because she wants a copy of tomorrow's newspaper.
Turns out, the Philly paper leads with the Phillies win. No mention of the Eagles getting punched in the teeth anywhere on the front page. But when I land in Dulles for my connecting flight home, I notice the WP is covered in burgundy & gold.
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