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Redskins fans celebrate sweet revenge for defeat in November

- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 8, 2006

TAMPA, Fla. -- What would a Redskins victory be without "Chief Z?" The self-described "Skins No. 1 Fan" dresses up as an Indian and once was beaten up in Philadelphia by angry fans.

"We got plenty of Redskins fans here, and it's great," he said last night at Raymond James Stadium, just before the two-minute warning in the wild-card playoff game between the Washington Redskins and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Just then, a rotund man, shirtless, walked by. His face was painted red, and on his chest were the words, "The Red Siege."

Just a typical day at a football stadium. Beer, beer and more beer. Hot dogs and grown men dressed as pirates. And, of course, Chief Z, who has been coming to Redskins games for 28 years and wouldn't have missed the game in Tampa for the world.

"We gotta get with it now before they cheat us," he said, referring to the Bucs' 36-35 defeat of the Redskins in November.

The conventional wisdom is this: Redskins fans are rabid, fanatic, die-hard crazies. The Bucs fans are, well, more laid back.

"That's what's so great about this season, to see so many fans here," said Brad Voss, 37, wearing a Redskins jersey and sipping a beer in the stadium concourse. "Our hotel is full; the plane was full."

Indeed, it seemed there were a sea of gold and burgundy jerseys. Even the Hogettes made it, in their pig snouts, wigs and dresses.

"The Bucs fans are pretty benign," said Charlie Higgins of West River, Md., who was at the game with his wife, Tricia, "and we want payback from November."

By halftime, as the score inched up for the Redskins, the Bucs fans had long faces.

After the Redskins' 17-10 victory, many of the team's fans were too inebriated to be interviewed.

"It was worth the 13-hour trip," one fan yelled. "We're going to Disneyland, baby."

They stayed behind in small groups, high-fiving and making plans for after-game partying and, of course, flying to Seattle for the NFL Divisional Playoffs.

"I'll have to look online," said Cheryl Bovastro, who surprised her husband with a birthday present: two tickets to the game yesterday. She bought two tickets on EBay for $375.

The couple lives in Miami, but her husband, Stacey Giddens, grew up in Virginia and is a lifetime Redskins fan. He was "overjoyed" with the present and, yes, he says, they're looking to going to Seattle.

The place to be in the District last night after the win was the U Street Corridor, with fans wearing Redskins jerseys mixed with a well-heeled crowd hopping from bar to bar.

Rebecca Baines, 23, from Virginia Beach, has become a fast Redskins fan.

"You have to root for the home team," she said. "I thought they'd win after the first half, and I think they'll win again."

Down the street, fans were lining up for a post-game hot dog at Ben's Chili Bowl, a District landmark.

"I think they're going to the Super Bowl," said Leny Hayes, 14, of the District. "They looked really good. Clinton Portis played well, except that he got hurt. If he's healthy, they'll win the Super Bowl."

Others were a little less optimistic.

"The win surprised me," said Harris Harry, 49. "They won a few in a row, but who knows what will happen next week? Like I said, you never know with the Redskins."

c Tarron Lively and Joe Weber contributed to this article from Washington.