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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.
"Cory has a pair of green jeans he brings with him," said Heidi Raymer, the tall blond 36-year-old wife of center Cory Raymer who was trying to wrangle her three small children in the hotel lobby.
The players last night had a short time to meet with family before a team meeting and an 11 p.m. curfew.
Guards are posted on the players' doors, and the wives and girlfriends are not allowed on the team's floor.
"Any wife who tries to get on the floor is really brave," said Denicia Marshall, wife of linebacker Lemar Marshall.
Mrs. Raymer confessed that she had hired a babysitter so that she and Christina Hall, 26-year-old wife of kicker John Hall, could go out for a few drinks after dinner.
"Just call us the 'Desperate Football Wives,' " Mrs. Raymer laughed.
Meanwhile, the Buccaneers removed an electronic message board Ticket Mart from its official Web site Thursday after realizing that fans were scalping tickets online. In Florida, selling tickets for more than $1 higher than face value is a misdemeanor.
But, according to the St. Petersburg Times, which raised the question, the ticket holders were only selling to Bucs fans to help ensure the stadium would be filled with home-team fans.
Still, crafty Redskins fans scored a few thousand tickets.
O.G. Warner, a 42-year-old dentist from the Washington area wearing a Redskins cap, flew in Thursday from home.
"My brother-in-law got lucky, and he got the tickets online. I had to ask my wife first," Luckily, she said yes. "I just hope they win tomorrow, or it will be a long ride home."
Family members are counting on a victory, but don't plan to celebrate. There are more playoff games ahead, and the team will fly home immediately to prepare.
"We're gonna bring the bacon home," said Rita Wynn, Renaldo's mother.
Maybe a little celebrating.
"I'm gonna pop a margarita," said Lesley Daniels, wife of defensive end Phillip Daniels.
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