Baltimore was meant to hate Washington, and its Redskins, too

Ken Rosenthal

January 10, 1992|By Ken Rosenthal

Last week I was a Falcons fan. This week I am a Lions fan. In two weeks I expect to be a Bills fan or Broncos fan. Whoever plays the Washington Redskins is my new favorite team.

I'm sick of the Redskins. Isn't everyone in Baltimore? It's bad enough we lost the Colts. It's even worse we're forced to adopt a team from a city that thinks we all carry pitchforks and wear overalls.

The cities are only 40 miles apart. The census tells us it's one metropolitan area. But Baltimore and Washington were meant to hate each other, just like Dallas and Fort Worth, Los Angeles and San Francisco, every place and New York.

We all know this, yet the Redskins are treated as big news here just the same. This time it really is the media's fault. Problem is, we've got to find something to do in the winter between Orioles' minor-league free-agent signings.

You don't care. We know you don't care. My brother-in-law Brian still drives by the Colts' former practice facility in Owings Mills to see if the Mayflower vans have returned. He sums up the situation thusly: "The Hogs stink. And we don't have a team."

People in Washington think we're jealous. Of course we're jealous. We're insanely jealous. Which is why last week I was a Falcons fan. And this week I am a Lions fan. The only thing more fun in sports than rooting for a team is rooting against one.

Thank heavens it's not Redskins-Cowboys.

I'd rather cheer for Japan.

What is it about the Redskins? Start with their annoying fans. They nod knowingly about "Redskins class" and "Redskins character," then attach their hog noses every Sunday and act like fools.

Hypocrisy in Washington, what a surprise. The team plays in the nation's capital and has the most politically incorrect nickname in sports. But Redskins fans don't worry about that. They just sing their stupid song.

All sports fans turn obnoxious once their team gets good. But Washington is more rah-rah than even the worst college town. Ever listen to "Sonny and Sam" on the Redskins radio network? Georgetown vs. Hawaii-Hilo is less one-sided.

Now there is this thing called "The Bandwagon," as championed by The Washington Post. It is the perfect concept for a city where the only loyalty is to power. Just make sure there are plenty of escape hatches once the wheels fall off.

"The Bandwagon" started off as a joke, with columnist Tony Kornheiser poking fun at the legions of naysayers who actually believe the apocalyptic rantings of coach Joe Gibbs. But now it's a frightening reality, with a trip to the Super Bowl apparently in the works.

There is only one solution for jilted Baltimore: Rent a couple of those Arnold Schwarzenegger land cruisers and hijack "The Bandwagon" on the road to Minneapolis.

Nothing like a little terrorism to force the expansion issue. You go ahead and buy the tickets for that silly exhibition game. I'll be studying re-runs of "SWAT."

The more peaceful solution is simply to root for the Lions on Sunday, not that it will do any good. The Redskins are a good team, make no mistake. They are also a fortunate team. They beat their two conference playoff opponents in the regular season by a combined score of 101-17.

It's worth noting that the Redskins' two Super Bowl victories came in strike seasons. And it's worth noting that several of their wins this year came with the opposing star incapacitated.

The Redskins should play Iraq.

That would take care of Saddam Hussein.

Of course, the Redskins would never say a harsh word about anyone, not even the worst scoundrel who roams the planet. Coach Gibbs prefers it that way. Redskins class. Redskins character. Redskins boredom, year after year.

Gibbs is a great coach and a sincere man, though not so sincere he won't manipulate the injured-reserve list to his advantage. He molds Team Vanilla in his image, and would sleep three nights a week at Redskin Park even if the next opponent was Wilde Lake High.

His players? Who knows?

The team that once gave us John Riggins and Dexter Manley now gives us Mark Rypien and Charles Mann. Rypien is the gee-whiz quarterback who is one interception away from being crucified. Mann is the defensive end who coined that catchy nickname for his unit, "National Defense."

An Orioles-Redskins fan I know -- of course he lives in Columbia -- was thinking of making a banner: "Ripken and Rypien -- MVPs." Please, don't associate the two. Given the choice, I'd take Cal's arm.

The good news is, it's almost over. For now, Baltimore should just heed the words of author Tom Clancy, the native son who said, "I'd rather sell my children to gypsies than be a Redskins fan."

This week I'm a Lions fan.

Erik Kramer, you're my man.

5/8

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