- The Washington Times - Friday, June 24, 2005

The Redskins have been Washington’s top sporting dog since Sonny Jurgensen was a boy, or at least a carrot-topped quarterback tossing touchdown passes. But now that dominance could be nearing an end.

Redskins uber alles? Maybe, just maybe, not much longer.

All of a sudden, after 34 dreary years without, we’ve got a real, live major league baseball team. (Though not much longer, hopefully, a team owned by Major League Baseball.)

Not only that, the Nationals are in first place as the season sneaks up on the halfway point. They may not stay there, but even so they’ve already provided enough thrills and chills for a full season. If you don’t believe it, just tune in whenever closer Chad Cordero is working.

Couple this with the Wizards’ strong improvement last season, and you have a sports scene where the Redskins won’t automatically be on the minds of every fan hereabouts 12 months a year.

Consider: If the Nats are in or out of first place by a game on Sept.19, will the Redskins’ Monday nighter at Dallas seem quite the be-all and end-all it has in the past?

I don’t know about you, but I’m seeing a lot more Nats caps and other gear around town lately than Redskins stuff. That could change when football season starts, of course, but baseball is back in our thoughts to stay.

Was it only 17 months ago that Joe Gibbs’ return was hailed as the greatest arrival in town since Vince Lombardi’s, or maybe even George Washington’s?

Nowadays, Gibbs is just another coach sweating to turn a losing team into a winner. But, hey, let’s hear it for Frank Robinson.

Eddie Jordan, too, while we’re at it.

It’s been quite awhile — 13 years in fact — since the Redskins deserved automatic applause. The coaching reigns, if that’s the word, of Richie Petitbon, Norv Turner, Marty Schottenheimer, Steve Spurrier and Gibbs II have produced nothing but heartbreak for loyalists who paint their faces burgundy and gold each Sunday during the fall.

In addition, the impulsive and often arrogant behavior of owner Dan Snyder has alienated lots of folks. At least with the Cookes, Jack Kent and John Kent, you knew they were devoted to producing a winner. Perhaps Snyder is, too, but he and we don’t have much to show for it.

As a Redskins watcher of half a century, I hope Gibbs can turn the franchise around. Yet despite his Hall of Fame resume, that’s hardly a given. As we all know, the NFL is a much different animal than it used to be, with free agency, salary caps and multimillionaire jocks. And last season’s 6-10 record gave no indication that an upswing is imminent.

But for now, who cares? Training camp doesn’t open for another month, and we’ve got more important things to worry about than minicamps, LaVar Arrington’s sulks and whether Patrick Ramsey can hold off Jason Campbell at quarterback.

Let’s see …

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