Every once in a while, in the midst of some quiet reverie, my thoughts drift -- of course -- to my life's obsession. My alpha and omega, my reason for being. The Washington Redskins
Almost invariably at times like these I will count back through the years to when I became a fan. I don't know precisely how old I was, but I do know I was very young. When you're in your forties and you fell in love with your team somewhere between seven and nine years old, you've got some tenure. You've put in some time. I'm now working on my fourth decade, and my passion is every bit as strong as it's always been, if not more so
Like most fans, I suppose, I have had my good and bad years. There have been periods of time when I was at least as hardcore, as knowledgeable, as walk-through-fire fanatical as anybody out there. There have also been periods when I follow my team rather perfunctorily, with a detached interest, because right then and there I have far more pressing things in my life to deal with. Also, in the interests of full disclosure, I have to admit that while the day will never dawn that I no longer bleed Burgundy and sweat Gold, my fandom waned a little during the dark years of the mid 90's and early 2000's. It's insidiously easy to let your passion for anything lose a lot of it's importance when you pour your heart and soul into it year after year, and get virtually nothing but disappointment and heartache in return
As I said, most of you can probably relate. It depends on the person, of course, but I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that nearly all of you who have been hardcore fans for at least 15 years have gone through something similar. What is my point, you ask? Simply this: all things considered, I am and have always been somewhere between a casual and the most diehard fan
I have more shirts, jerseys, and memorabilia than those who call themselves fans mainly because their significant other has always been an ultimate fan...but not nearly as much as those who set aside an entire room of their home as a shrine to Burgundy and Gold.
I know more Redskins history and trivia than those fans who live in or near D.C. and root for the nearest team to them...but not as much as the person who owns every book ever written about the 'Skins, and is always among the first to buy special DVD collections of Greatest Games or Super Bowl Years in Review.
I know more about the nuances of the game, the battles within the battle, than your average armchair quarterback -- even one who played the game in his youth ..but not as much as those who coach and teach the game to kids at any amateur level.
In short, I'm somewhere in the middle of the pack as a Redskins fan. A little more intense than most... but not as into it as some. As a fan, I am, in the immortal words of the legendary Joe Walsh, just an ordinary, average guy.
Nowadays, any questions I have about my team can be answered in minutes via the miracle of the Internet. There is literally nothing about the team, from their storied history (including game results from every season they've played) all the way down to the most mundane information about transportation to and from their stadium, that I can't have at my fingertips with no effort at all. As a result I find myself, having followed my team for at least 33 or 34 years, more informed than I've ever been as a fan. Thanks to electronic communities like ExtremeSkins, for example, I can discuss anything about my 'Skins with my fellow fans. I learn something new almost every day about the franchise I've followed nearly my whole life, and will follow until the day I die.
It's truly amazing. Short of attending every home game like so many I've met who live in or around the Washington area, I feel as connected to the team and it's daily operations as I've ever been. As connected as the beat writers who make a living writing about the team daily, and know their way around Redskins Park like the back of their hands. All while living 3,000 miles away, on the other side of the continent -- as far as one can be and still live on the mainland of the United States.
As recently as three or four years ago I never dreamed that I would one day be so "in the loop" where the 'Skins are concerned. I never envisioned being aware of everything the team is doing outside of the locker room and team meetings, down to the smallest detail. When a Redskins star sneezes I'm damn near right there to offer him a handkerchief. Not in my wildest, most feverish Indian-head flights of fancy did I see this day coming.
And that's a very good thing. Because believe you me, if I had, I would've run the other way so far and so fast that it never would have caught me.
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