Behavior Change: Skins fans plan Dallas walkout
"I think the relentless negative coverage in The Washington Post is a real difference from previous years," Redskins COO David Donovan said, in a quote that seems to grow in majesty with each passing day. "But in terms of the way our actual fans are behaving, we don't see any difference."
And from there, we go to local restaurateur and lifelong Redskins fan Alan Pohoryles.
"We feel like the only way we'll really get our voices heard by upper management is to stage a walkout against our biggest rival at FedEx field, and let the owner know we're not going to stand for it any more," Poho told me.
Poho's frustration mirrors yours, and I'll get to that in a minute. But in a moment of particular angst before the home game against the Chiefs, he decided to do something, founding this RFADS Facebook group and sending the invitation to about 80 friends. Before the 4 o'clock games were over, he was adding 150 or 200 members an hour. By the start of Sunday Night Football, when Jim Zorn was stripped of his play-calling duties, he had 1,200 members. As I type, he's passed 9,300 members. He figures at this pace, he could have 20,000 members by the Dec. 27 Dallas game, the final home game.
"It just took off, and people were [extremely angry]," Poho told me. "There's definitely something going on. When I started it, I didn't have any of this in mind. But once it took off, I realized that maybe we can make a difference."
Which led to the idea of the walkout. The general concept is that you go to the Dallas game as usual, stand for the national anthem as always, and then split. Watch it from the parking lot. Have a grand old time. Visit that Wendy's that I always stop at on my way home. Just don't sit inside the stadium. He figures if he can get some more publicity and some more members and some more media, it wouldn't be impossible to get 10,000 or 20,000 fans to leave the building.
"We're doing it to prove a point," Poho said. "Just to tell him look, we're frustrated, we're tired of it. I appreciate the fact that he's a fan, but I'm a fan, which doesn't qualify me to run a football team.....If we can get a walkout, get some publicity, maybe that will hit him where it hurts, in the wallet, because that's the only way we can force him to make a change."
Poho isn't selling T-shirts, and he isn't trying to make any money off this effort. He does have these massive banners on his truck, which you can see above. He got them a few days ago to try to reach people who aren't on Facebook, and they, too, have struck a nerve. In the hour after he put them on his truck, three guys lined up in a parking lot to take pictures. Everywhere he goes, he earns honks. People on his site want to buy signs of their own. A couple went inside the restaurant this week just to meet the guy who drove that truck.
"I have people thanking me," he said with a laugh. "I'm like, 'Look, I just created the venue.' Who am I to be the leader of this Revolution? But I've gotten so into it, because people are so behind it. I don't even know, it's just a great place for people to vent. People want to make a difference somehow."
This I can vouch for. Every day I get e-mailed stories like Poho's, people who tell me how long they've had tickets, which games they've seen, which Super Bowls they saw in person. Poho's dad has been a season-ticket holder since Griffith Stadium; the 38-year old was perfectly positioned to grow up during the glory years. And now, he's fed up.
He knows what's going on in Cleveland -- fans are planning a walkout there, and the leaders actually scored a meeting with owner Randy Lerner, who told them "I take full blame," according to the Canton Repository. He knows about all the other protests Skins fans have proposed, from the Fan Cards to the Mass-of-Humanity-T-Shirt-message. He's not even saying the Skins' owner should sell the team; he's just asking for a change.
"If there's a change before then, I'm happy to close down the group and move on," he said. And if not?
"We'll just do it, and we'll have a big party in the parking lot, and hopefully it'll work," he said. "We're not idiots. He treats the fans like we're idiots, and we're tired of it."
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