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Joe Gibbs And His Fans

I distinctly remember last year's season finale, since I was stuck in the press box writing a sidebar about the amazing resilience of Jason Campbell, or something like that. I distinctly remember looking up and seeing lots of chairs whose bodies had gone missing. It was the last game, it was the day before New Year's Eve, the season was lost, the game was at night, the team had five wins, and so on. I understood the absences. No big deal.

Here's what the AP said: "Tiki Barber didn't want his career to end here, not on a Saturday night against a losing team in front of thousands of empty seats."

Here's what Tom Boswell said: "If these Redskins, playing before a crowd infiltrated by thousands of Giants fans, had rolled over and played dead, few would have forgiven them." (Ital added)

Like I said, not surprising. That's just how it was. But Joe Gibbs is living in a world in which Dec. 30 and days like it haven't happened and won't happen. Here is what he said in today's Dallas Morning News, in a story about the Redskins having the NFL's longest streak of sellouts:

"You may go someplace else and in bad weather there will be some no-shows," Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said. "But you don't get any no-shows here. This place is always packed."

It's just a demonstrably false claim. I don't much care, but you sometimes wonder why he says stuff like that, why he ended last year by saying his players "wanted to make a statement at the end of the year, and I think they did in the last six weeks," and why he started his final press conference of last season by saying the Giants game represened "one of the greatest exhibitions of fans supporting a team that at that point was 5-10." I mean, the fans aren't always perfect. Sometimes they don't show up. Sometimes they get drunk and swear at people they don't like and get kicked out of the stadium and throw their beer. The players aren't always perfect and hard-working and fighting their tails off. Sometimes a depressing end to a dismal season before empty seats in Landover is just a depressing time ending to a dismal season before empty seats in Landover.

By Dan Steinberg  |  August 13, 2007; 2:29 PM ET
Categories:  Redskins  
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But surely, you mean, "Joe Gibbs has a posse"...


Posted by: James | August 13, 2007 2:33 PM | Report abuse

To be quite truthful, you have a point.

Posted by: Sherm | August 13, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

It's pretty interesting to see the old-school sports world collide with new-school cynicism. Gibbs is totally a product of his time. All cliche and platitudes. And I guess that was a pretty good way to be back in the 1980's. But sports journalism and sports fans alike have become way more cynical since then (Steinz often elevates it to an artform - and I mean that in only the most complimentary way). Now we love poking fun at (and holes in) pretext and all. I guess Gibbs fans appreciate him for the nostalgia (of seeing something from a bygone era - like watching Youngblood or any other '80s sports movie), and Gibbs detractors are just sick of what they see as transparent pretext.

Posted by: DY | August 13, 2007 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Compared to, "We're just going to pitch it around a little bit and try to find the open receivers down field," this sounds like Maya Angelou reciting poetry.

Posted by: | August 13, 2007 4:21 PM | Report abuse

It seems like Gibbs is trying to create an atmosphere of support with statements like this. Publically, he says all kinds of things that may or may not be objectively true - but all of these statements serve the goal of supporting and encouraging fans and/or players in question.

Privately, I bet pretty much everything is seen in a realistic manner among coaches, especially Gibbs. There is a lot said privately that never sees the light of day. Is this the best way to run a team? I don't know. But it seems like publically reinforcing all the clearly apparent negatives of last season - including the no shows - was unnecessary. Why shouldn't Gibbs try to make the best of a bad situation, at least publically?

Posted by: George Rogers | August 13, 2007 6:25 PM | Report abuse

That sellout streak is definitely supported by the ease at which opposing teams fans can procure tickets. Let's give some credit where it's due.

Posted by: Chris | August 14, 2007 8:24 AM | Report abuse

There are definitely reasons to put on a public front that is all sunshine and roses. The only thing is that this approach doesn't mesh well anymore with the culture of cynicism that has taken hold in the press (and by extension, the fans). The press and fans always used to be able to see through the pretext, but the difference now is that they will openly call coaches/athletes/etc on it (as here) and take those coaches/athletes/etc to the mat for engaging in it (as here).

Posted by: DY | August 14, 2007 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Typical Redskin season ticket holder is someone who had their tickets handed down to them from parent or some other patriarchal individual. Typical Redskin season ticket holder doesn't even actually pay for their own tickets. Not really. They take the tickets from one or possibly two games each season and sell them to a ticket broker or some boob on eBay. That money more then pays for the money spent on that year's entire season ticket package. When the Redskins suck, these typical Redskin season ticket holders not only sell off the tickets to the Cowboys game, they sell the tickets to the other games too. Typical Redskin season ticket holder has no interest in watching a losing team.

Posted by: | August 14, 2007 8:59 AM | Report abuse

I hate to admit it, but I am one of the long time season ticket holders who WANT to go to more games, but Dan Snyder and the 'Skins make it harder and harder every year. My father first purchased tickets in 1967 and I missed a handful of games until 2003. Most of these were a result of extended business travel or the birth of one of my children. RFK rocked, we had great friends sitting near us, and the team, win or lose, was great to watch.

FedEx is a hellhole, inconvenient to get to, traffic sucks, and Snyder has his hand in my pocket every time I turn around. I used to park at a nearby Metro station and take the CHEAP, FAST shuttle bus, but since those are now banished the experience is way too stressful. Yes, I sell my tickets (Section 127) on eBay at cost plus a VERY minimal fee to cover the listing and PayPal charges and I fear that the 'Skins will discover this and take away my tickets. For now, however, I find my 50" plasma surround sound, NFL Sunday Ticket and theater seating to be a close approximation to what I used to enjoy.

Posted by: Lester Burnham | August 14, 2007 10:26 AM | Report abuse

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