Sapienza: Yes, I am still a Redskins Fan

Former ESPN 980 program director Chuck Sapienza makes his Breaking Burgundy debut writing about the NFL team he's watched his entire life.

by Chuck Sapienza, Special to Breaking Burgundy

Over the last 13 months, there has been one question I have been asked above all others. One question, that when I hear it, I go into auto-speak and give a canned response. No, the question isn’t “who do you think was the fake John Skipper?” The question is “How can you still be a Redskins fan?”

For me the answer is simple. I have been a Redskins fan my entire life and the events that led to me leaving ESPN 980 were not caused by the 50+ athletes that wear the burgundy and gold.

When I say that I have been a Redskins fan for my entire life, I have documented proof. I was born at 12:24pm on Sunday September 29, 1968 at Providence Hospital in Washington DC. At 1pm, The Redskins faced the New York Giants. As the game kicked off, my father, a die-hard Redskins fan himself, held me and we “watched” our first game together. I was only 36 minutes old when the passion for my football team began to form. That game, like many others over the previous 23 seasons ended with a loss but unbeknownst to the Washington Redskins, they gained a lifelong fan.

The Redskins were very good during my formative years under George Allen.  I remember watching Billy Kilmer’s QB dive to beat the Cowboys in overtime in 1975 and crying my eyes out during a playoff loss to the Minnesota Vikings a year later. My fandom ratcheted up a notch when my family got season tickets in 1981 (Yes, there used to be a REAL waiting list for season tickets). My father and I became weekly fixtures in section 121 as the Redskins became an elite franchise under Joe Gibbs. I was there to see Dexter Manley knock out Danny White in the 1982 title game. I was there to see Coach Joe on his knees praying as Darrell Green knocked down a pass to Darren Nelson on the goal line to get “revenge” on my hated Vikings and I was there to throw my seat cushion onto the field after a Gerald Riggs TD to dispatch the Atlanta Falcons in the playoffs.

I began working for the Redskins in 1999 in stadium operations and entertainment. My first game as an employee, the Skins came back from a 21-0 deficit to defeat the Carolina Panthers on their way to their first and only division title under Norv Turner. During their playoff win vs. Detroit, it was my idea to play “Bang Your Head” by Quiet Riot over the stadium loud speakers every time Gus Frerotte ran onto the field for the Lions. It was an homage to the former Redskins QB head butting the wall and concussing himself after a TD in 1997 vs. the Giants.

I worked every Redskins home game from 1999 to 2014. In 2009, I was hired as a producer/statistician (that where I earned the nickname “Stats-ienza”) for the Redskins Radio Network and was promoted to Executive Producer in 2012. I have attended over 350 live Redskins games, watched 100’s of others on TV, and listened to even more on radio. I know this game and specifically this team very well and believe I can give Redskins fans a fun entertaining read about our favorite team.

So YES, I am still a fan. At times, I refer to the Washington Redskins as “we” and that will not change. If you listened to ESPN 980 over my five years as VP/Programming, you know we didn’t shy from being very critical when the team’s action deserved such treatment. Over the next few months, my goal is similar to most writers, being tough yet fair, to keep it real and give you a perspective of a lifelong fan that isn’t shying away from his fandom.

If you agree or disagree, I’d love to hear from you. I tried to interact with our listeners often when I was at 980 and I’d like to continue to do that now. My e-mail address is SapienzaChuck@gmail.com and you can reach me on Twitter. I hope to hear from you and more importantly, I hope my writing entertains your eyes as much as the radio entertained your ears.

Follow Chuck on Twitter @ChuckSapienza.

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