Whose to blame?....I know who!

As a kid growing up around D.C., the idea of attending a Redskins game just never occurred to me. There was a waiting list miles long to get tickets and neither of my parents would have taken me anyway– they just didn't do sports events.

When my folks moved to Illinois, I still loved the Skins, but the affection was from afar. Over time, I became a ‘casual' fan. By that, I mean that I'd watch them on television if they were on and I'd devour the box scores in the newspaper, but that's about all I could do.

Things have changed over the past few years. I now have access to the greatest tool a fan could have – the Internet. (Also, I'm a bit more affluent these days so I can afford to invest more in being a fan.) When the Redskins played the Tennessee Oilers at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, I was able to go – it was my first game and I was like a little kid. Unfortunately, the Redskins played one of their more Norvish games that afternoon. It was an uninspired, mistake-ridden affair that ended up 28-14. The next season, I drove to Nashville to watch the Skins in preseason vs. the Oilers. This time they won (largely due to Trent Green's scrambling ability). Last year, I closed my office down and drove to Dallas to watch the Redskins play the first game of the post-Norv Era. To say my hopes were up is a considerable understatement. And it was a long, dismal drive back to Tennessee. My wife, a Dallas fan since her girlhood, was far kinder to me than I would have been to her. (I even had the misfortune of stopping in Texas for some barbecue and finding to my horror that those clods were cooking cows instead of pigs…I thought everyone knew that barbeque is made from pig).

It's taken me a while to get to my point, but by 2001, I think I'm a pretty serious fan of the Washington Redskins. I talk Redskins with my fellow fans almost daily on message boards (I'm still grateful for the day I found the old Bleachers – I knew I was home). And this year, I made the pilgrimage to Carlisle, the fabled town of Redskins lore, to watch training camp. I have a bunch of autographs – I met Marty (very briefly in an autograph line)

– I spoke to some of the players…and what's my reward? This preseason? I believe I'd rather have a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

Guys, I think the problem with the Redskins is not the coaching. It's not the ownership. It's not the talent level or enthusiasm of the players. As that great line from the old Pogo cartoon goes, ‘We have met the enemy and he is us'. I'm the problem. The more involvement I have in being a fan, the worse this team does. I know that's being just a tad self-important, but let's consider this preseason.

I can't watch the games, so I listen over the ‘Net. And because the Skins aren't broadcasting, I had to listen to the ‘enemy' radio. I listened to the K.C. debacle, and we got swamped. I listened to the Falcons exhibition and we got absolutely slaughtered. And while there was no radio feed for the Patriots game, I followed the play-by-play over a chat room (only a real fan would do something like that, by the way). And of course, we were throttled.

I know you're thinking, ‘Hey, what about the Cleveland game?' The night of the Browns game, I had to work the chains at my stepson's high school football game. I missed that game, only getting back to the office (and logging on) to find we were actually winning. As soon as I got on, Cleveland scored and converted a two-point attempt. Had I arrived any sooner, I'm convinced we'd have lost that one as well.

I remember when I lived in Chicago, the Blackhawks made it to the Stanley Cup. A guy I went to school with loved that team, but he refused to watch a single game of their playoffs, claiming that he jinxed the team. At the time, I thought that was the stupidest thing I'd ever heard from a fan, but I'm starting to feel much like that guy. I'm jinxing the team.

You can talk to Tennessee Carl on the CPND Hardcore message board

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