Scenes From the Burgundy Revolution: Bucs
I've only been going to Skins games for four years. My historical knowledge is scant. But I can tell you for sure that the mood at the end of Sunday's first half was as defiant as I've seen. There was rage. There was dissent. It wasn't just the demagogues out on the barricades; The People themselves were taking a few cautious steps toward the palace guards, raising their voices, yelling "Yo king, I understand there's a famine in the countryside, but dangit, we're hungry right now, and we just can't wait any longer."
And then? Well, then the second half happened. The wagons pulled up with the provisions, and it wasn't just dry grain, but even some fruit and chocolates, and the cheers were unanimous, and the mob scooped up what they could get and raised their arms in joy and then went on home to celebrate. It ain't easy to revolt, and if the immediate hunger in your belly disappears, maybe it's no longer worth it. I'm not here to judge.
But some of the True Believers I talked to during that unstable first half didn't rip up their pamphlets, even if they ate some of the grain themselves. If the food arrives again during the next two weekends, maybe they'll rip up their leaflets and throw away their revolutionary garb and a great peace will settle over the land. But rest assured, if the famine comes back, so will the outrage. In the meantime, witness some scenes from the still-wobbly Revolution. There's something happening here.
There were plenty of people wearing homemade shirts of dissent. Like, Ryan Fitzpatrick of Arlington, wearing a Mister Irrelevant model tee that said "Snyder [Stinks]." You might remember seeing him shirtless on the Nats Flex Cam. Sunday, he was a partisan, and he reported that fans in his section gave him a standing ovation.
"Skins til the day I did, but this is the worst," Ryan told me, during that dark first half. "I love them, but this is terrible."
As I was trying to take his photo, a woman neither of us knew named Lisa ran into the shot with a paper plate that had Snyder's face and a line through it. Someone had been handing them out inside the stadium. Sign o' the times.
Maggie Cameron, 28, of Alexandria, meanwhile, had a shirt urging Snyder to sell the team. At 3 a.m. Sunday morning, inspiration struck, and she decided to make this shirt herself. It seemed to work. One man asked her to pose for a picture with his baby. Strangers came up to give her hugs and pose for photos. More than one person offered to buy the shirt off her back. Why did she make it?
"It was a stroke of genius," she said. "I think Dan Snyder is better-suited to amusement parks and children with rides."
Then there Andrew Smith, of Columbia. His buddy Dave made about 20 of these Snyder jerseys, with dollar signs instead of numbers on the back, though this was the first time he wore one to a game. Somewhat reluctantly.
"I'm a fan, I didn't really want to do it," Andrew told me, "but I'm telling you, people love it. I might go buy a thousand and sell them."
So, why now?
"I figured right now's an appropriate time," he said. "I'm still a fan, it's just not much fun any more....I like the fact that Snyder's willing to spend the money, but he's got to get out of it. Sign the checks and that's it."
His friend, Rusty, drives past M&T Bank Stadium every Sunday, and the contrast is...well, you know what the contrast is.
"I don't feel like we're really doing anything to get any better," Andrew concluded. "But at least we've got the Caps."
And in fact, he said his next step might be to wear his Ovechkin jersey to Skins games.
Rocking The Red
If he did, he wouldn't be alone. As I mentioned Sunday, the Caps' stars were at the game, to have fun and to support the Skins. They're not a part of any revolution, but some of their fans sure are.
Like Scott Allen and Tony Colosimo, both of Arlington, who together decided they should wear Caps shirts and Wizards/Bullets hats this week.
"Definitely intentional," said Allen, who had considered wearing a Robert Henson jersey or a Lions t-shirt before he came up with his Backstrom t-shirt. "I figured what better way to show my distaste for the Skins than supporting the other local teams. The Caps score more than the Skins, too."
[At this point, through 30 minutes, the Skins' zero points were indeed less than the six goals the Caps notched the day before.]
"I support the Redskins, but [the Caps] are doing better," said Colosimo, who was in an Ovechkin jersey. "They're giving me what I want."
Sure, the crowd was overwhelmingly in burgundy, but you'd be shocked how much Caps stuff was out there. I met two separate father-son duos who were each wearing not a shred of Skins garb and instead had on Caps hats, to show their frustration.
"I'm a Redskins fan; I'm not a Dan Snyder fan," explained Michael Roberts, a son.
"Echo that," said Mark, his father. "It's our little way of poking at Dan.
They weren't as angry as John (father) and Shaun (son) Blair, up in the 400s, who also had the Caps hats on. The Blairs had waited 23 years for Skins tickets; John had followed the team's results when stationed in Vietnam in the early '70s. But the enthusiasm has been drained in recent years, for reasons both off-the-field and on.
"As an old donkey who remembers the old days, I'm upset with the owner all right," John said. "The only real fun we've had the last few years is the tailgate, and now he's messing that up. I just feel like when I come in here, I've got to put my hand over my wallet, because he's trying to get everything he can out of me."
So why keep coming?
"We ask ourselves that every single year, but it seems like it's such a family tradition," Shaun said.
"That's our dilemma, we talk about it all the time," John added. Various family members sit elsewhere in the stadium; they have a weekly competition to see who can leave FedEx without spending any money. The Caps hats show that they're not shelling out for Skins gear, and that they think a better way exists.
"Honestly, look at how the two organizations are run; look at the Caps, they were built on character and they were built on the draft," Shaun said. "Yeah, they went through their lean years...."
"[But] they were honest about going through those lean years, it wasn't just a big marketing ploy," John added. "We don't like what's going on here, and there's another team in town."
"Get it together," Shaun concluded. "There's another game in town."
The Graffiti Artists
This strikes me as destruction of property, and I don't think I approve of that. But like I said, people there were really, really, really angry. A women's bathroom in the club level was defaced with some anti-Snyder words.
I'm always leery of "man on the street" stuff, because how do you know if your man is representative of popular opinion or not? Sunday, I didn't have to worry about it. You could literally just stand on the outside ring of the 400 level and fill your notebook with the angry words of people walking right by you.
"Put the other game on!" one guy, Juan Erostegui of Alexandria, shouted. ("This is rock bottom," he told me, during that first half.)
"I spend all this [bleeping] money, this is what I get?" one guy was screaming. "THIS IS WHAT I GET?"
"Campbell is a sorry [bleep bleep]," some other guy was yelling.
"I watch a much better game at DeMatha high school than what I see over here," Henry Faunce of Southern Maryland said.
"The Redskins breaking my heart, folks," called out Carlton Howard of P.G. ""All we want is a winning team," he later told me. "The true Redskins fans, they will not lose, but I'll tell you what, it'll be a while until FedEx is sold out again."
"This is the worst I've ever seen them play, and I've seen some bad football," Angelo Brown of Hyattsville was telling a group of visitors from Montreal.
No one was louder, though, than John Raum Jr., a 32-year old from Woodbridge. His (completely sober) first-half rant began inside the bathroom and then continued onto the concourse; he strode up and down, literally bellowing about the team's front office.
"IT'S THE SAME [NONSENSE] EVERY YEAR, OVER AND OVER AGAIN!" he began. [I'll lose the caps now, but trust me, they continued. "They keep saying they're talented. [Nonsense.] They don't have talent. If you have talent, you don't lose to the Lions. If you have talent, you don't lose to Tampa Bay. they don't have talent. They suck. This team sucks. We spend too much money for this [nonsense] to be going on."
"I'm with you man!" one random guy shouted out.
"Damn right," someone else said, rushing over to shake Raum's hand.
"WHEN WILL THEY GET IT RIGHT?" Raum continued. "When will they get it right? I spend $4 grand a year, $4 grand a year. For what? For what?"
I calmed him down enough to ask him a few questions, and he ticked off the usual litany of complaints: the loss to the Lions, Jim Zorn's contention that things were getting better, the neglected offensive line, the years of mediocrity.
"I'm a welder," Raum told me. "I'm a dumbass welder. I went to trade school. How is it I can see this and the guys who make millions can't? I LOVE this team. I love them more than that idiot Cerrato and Snyder can ever understand. It's not about them. It's about the logo, the tradition and the pride. I thought maybe I should stop coming, and it tears me up to feel that way. Getting season tickets was my dream. My dream. And they're stomping on my dream."
The Paper Bag Heads
The great Paper Bag giveaway was a total flop. I saw a grand total of one person, holding his 106.7 bag. Turns out, bags are prohibited inside the stadium, and I received multiple reports of the bags being confiscated by security.
This guy above, though, stayed at home with his bag. (Via @JonRojas). And somehow, a few other folks below managed to smuggle bags inside the gates, including one guy who dressed a stuffed animal with a bag. Plus, see this guy, pictured on Deadspin.
David Peverall, a 40-year old from Alexandria, saw me talking to Raum and called me over. He asked if I wanted to know how he was spending his Redskins money next year. I said sure. He told me he was going to drop his two Skins tickets and upgrade his five seats at George Mason basketball games.
"I'm not gonna pay money for this garbage," he said. "I'd rather give money to the school than this."
When we chatted, David and his son were finishing off the remains of their $22 lunch, which bought them nachos, a pretzel and two sodas. He said he and his wife had made the decision at the Rams game, because of the experience and the results. He usually brings one of his two sons to the Redskins game, so I asked if they'd mind.
"Do you mind if we ever come to the Redskins game again?" he asked 7-year old Cole. The boy shrugged.
"He don't care," David said.
Nearby, Mike Byorick and John Kachur were standing around with some friends.
"It's a little easier with a double Jack and Coke," Mike, a 38-year old from Alexandria, told me. "Because you know what? Daniel Snyder makes it hard to be a Redskins fan."
"I'm so optimistic every year, but it's not getting better," John said. "It's getting worse."
"I keep drinking more every week," Mike said. "That's the only way I can handle the pain. It's so hard to be a Redskins fan. Daniel Snyder makes it hard for us to root for the team."
Not totally sure what was going on here, to be be honest, but this guy had on Skins clothing and a Bucs hat and wig.
"Eyebrows down, I'm solid Skins," this guy said.
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