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Sitting in the stands, waiting for Green Bay

By Stephen L. Carter

A friend who often accompanies me to Redskins home games likes to tease me. He says that somewhere along about the middle of the second quarter, whether the Skins are winning or losing, I begin to mutter, “I’ve been sitting in these stands for a lot of years ...” And this is true. I attended my first Redskins game in the mid-1960s. Over the years, I have, I confess, become a bit of a fanatic. I’ve been a season-ticket holder for the past 10 years, and have attended my share of road games as well. I once scheduled a business trip so that I could be in Indianapolis to see the Redskins visit the Colts.

And, yes, in my many years in the stands, I’ve seen a lot of strange things.

That’s why, when sportswriters point out that the Redskins have not beaten Green Bay since 1988 (when Ronald Reagan was President) I do not so much cringe as nod. I’ve seen a lot of strange things.

Such as the four recent defeats to the Packers, each painful in its own way.

October 21, 2007: The 3-1 Redskins under Joe Gibbs, fresh off a 34-3 thrashing of Detroit and brimming with confidence, go into Green Bay, where they dominate the Packers, but lose anyway because of two crucial fumbles, one of which Charles Woodson runs back 57 yards for a touchdown.

October 31, 2004: Playing at home, the Redskins pick off Brett Favre three times but still are whipped by the Packers, 28-14.

October 20, 2002: At Lambeau Field, a poor Washington team turns the ball over four times in losing 30-9. (An interesting historical note: the weekend after facing Green Bay, the Redskins hosted the Colts, as they will this time, too. Washington picked off Peyton Manning twice and built a 23-7 lead, then held on against a furious Indianapolis rally to win 26-21.)

September 24, 2001: In Marty Schottenheimer’s second game as Redskins coach, Washington goes into Green Bay, where Jeff George is sacked five times and the Redskins are held to 137 net yards as the Packers romp, 37-0.

Oh, and what about that 1988 victory? That was actually a rather sour year for the Redskins, who were stumbling through their worst season of the first Joe Gibbs era, and would finish 7-9. The Packers were just terrible, finishing 4-12 (and needing to win their last two to do it), but still almost won the game. Washington turned the ball over three times in eking out a 20-17 victory, on a late field goal by Chip Lohmiller.

A lot of strange things, as I said. My father taught me that anybody can root for a team when it’s winning. A true fan is the one who cheers his heart out when his team is getting stomped. And so I sit in those stands, year after year, enduring the heaviness of every defeat, sensitive to every faint breeze of victory, yielding to that tiny voice that whispers this time, this year, finally, once again – And so I dream on.

By Box Seats blogger  | October 8, 2010; 3:00 PM ET
Categories:  Redskins, Stephen L. Carter  | Tags:  Redskins, Stephen L. Carter  
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