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Rich Tandler is the author of Gut Check, The Complete History of Coach Joe Gibbs' Washington Redskins.
One of my first entries in this blog was one entitled "Get a Grip". Generally, I don't like to quote myself to make a point, but there is no other source to go to in discussing the fan reaction to Sunday's game:
Calm down out there, would you? Yeah, I'm talking to you!Among the comments I received in reaction to the loss:
I've heard you out there, Redskins fans. I've heard you on sports talk stations and I've read your posts on this and other Internet forums and I've received your emails and I've talked to you at work and elsewhere. And I'm now using this forum to tell all of you to get a grip.
With Redskins fans, every positive up tick in the team's fortunes is greeted with adulation once reserved for lifting the Lombardi Trophy. And every little thing that might go wrong is a disaster akin to Super Bowl 18.
"It's hard to get encouraged for next year. . ."I am disgusted and stomach is full of ulcers". . ."This one really hurts."And this is mild compared to what I looked at on some message boards. Never mind the profanity-laced tirades (the expletives were filtered out but very evident nonetheless). There were some demands to fire Gibbs and his staff and to cut every player making over $2 million a year and start from scratch. Others said that they would quit being Redskins fans and others, although they wouldn't stop themselves, would encourage their children to root for another team. To spare the kids the pain.
Puhleeze. Look, I'm as tied up in how this team does as the rest of you. I want them to win every week as much as anybody. But in terms of losses the Redskins have suffered while I've been watching them, this one doesn't even register on the Richter scale. It's not even on the top 10 worst losses to Dallas in the last 40 years. Try the Clint Longley game, the '79 season finale, the Cowboys' lone 1989 win, all of which cost the Redskins playoff spots or position, just for starters.
Don't get me wrong, the players and coaches should not take this loss lightly. They plan for and play football games that happen just sixteen times a year, or fewer than 5% of the days in a year. The Redskins and their coaches get paid millions to play better.
And, to be sure, fans should expect more. But not to the point of virtual hysteria.