My name is Isaac Saul, and I hate my favorite football team.
I hate my football team’s owner, I hate their coaching staff, I’m appalled at their defense and now I can’t even say their stadium is anything to be proud of.
This isn’t my call for help or sympathy; it is my plea for the football Gods to relent.
You have no idea what it is like to be me. I lived in the suburbs of Philadelphia, as a Washington Redskins fan, from 1996 to 2009. Then I lived in Pittsburgh for four years. Do you know how bad the Redskins have been between ’96 and ’12? 62-147. They are 3-8 this season.
In that same span, the Eagles have been to five NFC championship games. I sat through class in high school as heartless "friends" made fun of Sean Taylor – my favorite player ever and the most badass, talented, terrifying safety the NFL has ever seen – for dying.
The Birds dumped Donovan McNabb on us, nearly got away with signing Michael Vick to a 100 million dollar contract, and are now pulling away from a Redskins team led by The Robert Griffin III with Sunshine from “Remember the Titans.”
Even worse than the embarrassing way my team loses games is the mirage of a future I chased by thinking Pittsburgh fans would be any better. Do you have any idea how pompous six Super Bowls can make a city?
Today, the Redskins are first in the NFL in rushing yards, loaded with offensive talent and an absolute train wreck. This is a team who – with one of the best running backs in NFL history after 27 games on the bench – goes for it on 4th and 2 and runs the ball.
Let me break that down for you: We need two yards. We want to run the ball. We have a guy who averages 5.1 yards a carry. We give it to the other guy. He gets stuffed.
Now I know what you’re thinking: “that ‘other guy’ is Roy Helu, who averages 4.9 yards a carry!” Right. But he’s done it on 43 attempts. Alfred Morris averages 5.1 yards a carry on 181 attempts, nearly five times the sample size.
Our defense gets burned in every big moment we need them to not get burned. They’re 26th in passing yards allowed. But they're second in the league in defensive scoring! I mean, these guys are playmakers: We have Brian Orakpo, London Fletcher, Ryan Kerrigan, Adam Carriker, DeAngelo Hall…
It is pretty hard to defend my squad. As of March 21st, 2013, we accounted for 15% of the entire league’s substance-abuse suspensions. Since then, we’ve inherited Brandon Meriwether, who gives quotes like this (for the record, I kind of agree with what he said about Brandon Marshall) and has deservedly earned a reputation as a dirty player.
But even this is just the tip of the embarrassment iceberg.
Our tight end, Niles Paul, returns kicks. As you’d expect, he’s not very good at it. Of the 32 guys who have returned more than nine kickoffs this season, Paul ranks last amongst them at 19.3 yards per return. Can you guess who ranks 31st? Washington Redskins other kick returner, wide receiver Josh Morgan (19.9). The next closest is Micah Hyde of Green Bay with 20.8.
We have a name controversy, a hated owner and Stephen Colbert taking his swings. We have Tyler Polumbus going against Ahmad Brooks. I repeat, we have this guy going against this guy to protect our franchise quarterback.
But of course, at the center of it all is one Redskins player I can’t stop believing in: Robert Griffin III. This same man is the most hated quarterback on the internet. If I wanted to prove to you that his tenure as starting quarterback of the Redskins sounds about as fun as being President Obama, I’d probably start there, and then add the fact that 32 of RGIII’s 394 passes have been taken when trailing this season. Or I’d tell you about the lightest (and leakiest) offensive line in the NFL. Or I’d tell you about all the hits he takes that every other quarterback in the league gets a flag for taking. But I won’t.
Still, is the delusion mine, or yours? Jon Gruden spent the fourth quarter of Monday Night Football talking about how RGIII needs to learn to be a leader when his team is losing. Oh, you mean like when he won seven straight games last year after starting his career 3-6 and led his team to the playoffs and a division title? All with one leg? Or do you mean you want to see him jog off the field with his shoulders square and his head high every time he gets blasted (unless of course he is concussed or broken), like he already does?
This is the story of Robert Griffin III: With 2:04 to go in the fourth quarter on Monday night, on 1st and 10, RGIII drops back in the pocket. His team is down by 21 points, out of the game, and the 49ers players are having fun throwing the kitchen sink at him. Pressure comes and RGIII backpedals to his left. With a quick stutter step and the swipe of his gloved left hand, he shakes a defensive end to the ground. Still backpedaling, his dreadlocks bouncing out the back of his helmet, Griffin releases a cannon from his ear and across his body 24 yards up field, slicing the safety and defensive back in zone coverage and completing a pass that a grand total of zero other NFL quarterbacks could make.
Like most Redskins’ plays these days, it is a broken mess that RGIII turns to a gem. Then Gruden starts talking about “how it looks so hard for the Redskins,” the yellow flag symbol comes up on the scoreboard, Trent Williams is caught holding and the Skins move backwards instead of forwards. With the game clock ready to wind down and Griffin pictured on the screen, a stat graphic shows up: The Washington Redskins have 172 total yards on the night.
Then, as if the night couldn't get any worse, they cut to the booth. There, Jon Gruden and Mike Tirico are having a conversation with a picture of Joe Gibbs hovering in the background. This is when, as a Redskins fan, you know our season is over.
Despite it all, despite the drug-laced locker room, the one-legged quarterback, the classless secondary, the devil's reincarnate as an owner, the refs who have started hating us, and even the racist name, I can't stop loving this team. Despite it all, I still get nervous at the end of a game, even when we're about to go 3-8. And of course, most delusional of all, I still believe RGIII is going to take us to the promised land we haven't seen in 23 years.