Interested in rooting for one of the NFL's 32 teams -- but don't know where to start? Adam Rank has you covered with this series, which will present a handy guide to becoming an instantly rabid fan of each organization in the league. Below, find out why you should root for the Washington Redskins.
What you need to know so you don't sound stupid
The Redskins have a pretty rich history, but there is no doubt they were at their best in the 1980s -- kind of like Def Leppard. The current hits haven't quite materialized, but oh man, the decade of decadence was amazing! The Redskins won two Super Bowls in the '80s (1982, 1987) and even extended the party with a Super Bowl title in 1991. The fact each win came with a different quarterback (Joe Theismann, Doug Williams and Mark Rypien) goes to show you that Joe Gibbs is a straight G. Which other dynasty has won multiple Super Bowls with different quarterbacks? I might give you the 49ers with Joe Montana and Steve Young, but those are two Hall of Famers. So maybe we should give Gibbs a little more credit for what he accomplished.
Most importantly, even though the Redskins haven't gone platinum -- er, Lombardi -- in a while, they're still selling out stadiums! And not playing in front of 19 people at a county fair. (Fine, Def Leppard did have a nice residency at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas recently. But I had to make the cheap joke. It's what I do.)
Hail to the Redskins ...
... Hail victory! Dude, the Redskinshave a fight song! And I'm not going to lie: It's pretty great, as far as fight songs go. In fact, if I had to rank songs, I'd put this at No. 1, now that the previous holder of that spot, the "San Diego Super Chargers" song, has been knocked out by that team's move to Los Angeles. Congratulations, HTTR. Here are the lyrics for you to learn if you decide to join this club:
Hail to the Redskins!
Braves on the warpath!
Fight for old D.C.!
Run or pass and score,
We want a lot more!
Beat 'em, swamp 'em,
Let the points soar!
Fight on, fight on, 'til you have won
Sons of Wash-ing-ton. Rah! Rah! Rah!
Hail to the Redskins!
Braves on the warpath!
Fight for old D.C.!
About the Cowboys ...
This rivalry is one of the league's most famous, but there was something nefarious brewing before the Dallas Cowboys were even born. Former Redskins owner George Preston Marshall didn't want any team in the South, taking the view that his team owned that market. (Originally, the lyrics to the song included a line about fighting "for ol' Dixie.") Clint Murchison, who was trying to establish the team that became the Cowboys, bought the rights to "Hail to the Redskins." And boom, the Cowboys had a franchise. I should probably really have put this in the Cowboys article, no?
How about this? The Redskins beat the Cowboys in the 1982 NFC Championship Game, which handed Dallas its third consecutive defeat in the NFC title game. It also spelled the last gasp for the Cowboys' championship window; we wouldn't hear from them again until 1992. So if any Cowboys fan gives you grief, tell him (or her) that.
If said Cowboys fan is actually Troy Aikman, tell him LaVar Arrington is behind him and watch him curl up in the fetal position.
You like that?!
Two years ago, quarterback Kirk Cousins committed a cardinal sin for an NFL quarterback: showing emotion. Fired up about a win, Cousins shouted "You like that?!" toward a throng of reporters. And the poor dude has had to hear about it for the last, what, 20 months? It's like how Liam Neeson can't walk anywhere in the world without some (jerk) screaming out, "I have a very particular set of skills." (For the record, I believe Neeson actually does have a very particular set of skills, so I'd be smart about yelling out that stuff.) Likewise, this will follow Cousins for the rest of his life. Which kind of serves him right for having the audacity to be happy after a game.
And damn, I don't know if it's a record, but I can't think of any player who has played longer under the franchise tag than Cousins. I guess it makes financial sense, but it seems like kind of a weird way to show appreciation to the quarterback who saved your [donkey] a few years back. The Redskins gave a boatload of picks to St. Louis for the right to draft Robert Griffin III, but it's been Cousins -- RGIII's fellow 2012 draftee -- who's become the franchise signal caller they've lacked since, who, Mark Rypien? Yeah, hate to make that guy happy. Cousins passed for nearly 5K last year, completed 70 percent of his passes the year before. I think you have something here.
The atmosphere at RFK
The old RFK Stadium was a rollicking good time where the Redskins enjoyed a distinct home-field advantage. Because it was one of those cookie-cutter, multi-use stadiums built in the 1960s, it had those collapsible seats in the lower bowl, which would start rocking and rolling with the fervent, diehard fans. The team currently plays in FedExField, which is cool. But man, I would love to see it build a small bandbox stadium and get it rocking again.
Their best team
That the 1982 and '87 teams won during strike-marred seasons is a testament to Joe Gibbs. But the 1991 team was easily Washington's best, as it got off to an 11-0 start -- with the bid for perfection being undone by the Cowboys in November. Then the Cowboys had the temerity to lose to the Lions in the Divisional Round, which cost the Redskins the chance to humiliate them in the NFC Championship Game on the road to the Super Bowl.
That Redskins team had the second-highest point differential of any Super Bowl champion. And quarterback Mark Rypien was sacked just seven times the entire season, while starting every game. Remember, the team had to face the Giants (coming off a win in Super Bowl XXV) and the Eagles (who had Reggie White and Jerome Brown) twice. Holy crap, we might be talking about the best team, as in, the best team of all time. The Redskins that year were that good, and are not given enough credit.
They'll never get over ...
Look, the Redskins struggled in the first half against the Raiders in Super Bowl XVIII, falling behind 14-3. If rallying was a tall order, it became nearly impossible when Joe Theismann threw a pick-six to Squirek with seconds left in the half and deep in their own territory. The Raiders went on to win 38-9.
The ballad of 'Fat Rob'
Robert Kelley has no such shame. For his introduction on "Sunday Night Football" last year, the running back used his college nickname, "Fat Rob." Of course he earned the nickname when he gained some weight during his senior year at Tulane. Real talk: If you don't gain some weight when you're going to college at Tulane, you aren't doing life right, man.
Count me as a Josh Norman fan. I like a cornerback who isn't afraid to go out there and throw some hands. I mean, this is football, right? I really do look forward to his matchups with Odell Beckham Jr. And this season, it looks like he's going to get the chance to shadow No. 1 wide receivers? Hallelujah.
The franchise's best
Darrell Green is the longest-tenured Redskins player in history. He was a seven-time Pro Bowler. And look at the play in which he caught Tony Dorsett from behind. (I know I said in the Cowboys piece that Green had the angle. But that's just what Dorsett told me. Look at the video. Dude caught him. I've got you, Redskins fans.)
Not given enough credit
London Fletcher. Dude played in over 250 consecutive games. Never missed one. The weird thing: He didn't reach the Pro Bowl until well into his career (2009).
The negative impact of the Robert Griffin III trade. People sure like to talk stuff and say how bad this trade was for the Redskins. Jeff Fisher and St. Louis even trolled them with all of the players nabbed with those picks serving as team captains in a game between the two teams. But guess what? The Redskins made the playoffs with RGIII. St. Louis no longer has a team. There you go.
Closing fun fact
The franchise originated as the Braves in Boston, playing at Braves Field. They moved to none other than Fenway Park in 1933 and became the Redskins.
This would be an interesting choice. I love the vibrant history. I mean, I'll spend a lot of time on Fremont St. watching Spandex Nation's tribute to the 1980s, so I feel like I could be some sort of kindred spirit with the D.C. fans, who are a pretty fun group. There is a local Redskins bar down the street from my house, and it's a blast. And they hate the Cowboys and Giants, which is a bonus. Jay Gruden is a good coach, and his offense is fun to watch. The owner, Daniel Snyder, is committed to winning. I mean, I love it when a former season-ticket holder takes over the team. You know the dude is as gutted or fired up as you. Take that as a good thing.