TAMPA, Fla. — It’s not about winning, fans and family members of the Washington Redskins say. It’s about respect.
“They’re anxious. They’re nervous, and they’re hungry,” said Barbara McNair, mother-in-law of Renaldo Wynn, Redskins defensive end. “The Redskins don’t get any respect. … But I think the Redskins can do it. If they come to play and bring their A game.”
The Redskins (10-6) arrived here yesterday afternoon for today’s wild-card playoff game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5), returning to the scene of Washington’s last postseason appearance, a 1-point loss, a long six years ago.
But that was during the Norv Turner era. Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs has been back for two years, and the Redskins faithful are hopeful today’s game will be the first step in the march to the franchise’s fifth trip to the Super Bowl.
“You the man, LaVar,” shouted dozens of fans who greeted the team at the Grand Hyatt hotel and broke into an impromptu but hearty “Hail to The Redskins” as the burly football players walked by.
Redskins owner Dan Snyder, dwarfed by his players, arrived in a natty suit and sunglasses.
Asked if he would sleep tonight, Gibbs, looking flushed, answered, “Not much.”
“I gotta fire my boys up,” said Mark Silagyi, a 26-year-old Washington transplant, who took the day off from work to greet the team. “I was raised on the Redskins. … I can’t live here and have the Redskins lose.”
Nearby, his wife, Jennifer, wearing a Redskins jersey, finished her lunch and said they planned to watch the game at home.
“I think it would be a pretty bad night if we wound up in jail” for fighting with Bucs fans, she said. “So we’ll stay home and watch it from our house and scream as loud as we want.”
The once-mighty franchise that had slipped into Rodney Dangerfield respect territory is back and is riding a five-game winning streak.
“After the Eagles game, they were so excited. The adrenaline was just amazing,” said Alicia Prioleau, 28-year-old wife of Redskin safety Pierson Prioleau referring to the team’s season-ending victory that ensured playoff status. “This is his first playoff game.”
In preparation, the Redskins have been spending nearly all their time studying film and resting, and, the superstitious ones, have been avoiding their razors and changing undergarments, said several players’ wives.