- The Washington Times - Monday, September 28, 2009

Maybe now, with the Redskins in their most abysmal state since the ‘60s, the Wizards and Capitals can build their fan bases by siphoning off those disenchanted with the football team.

And there is a deep well of antipathy toward the Redskins. You could hear it in the boos that rained down on the Redskins in their dispirited 9-7 victory at home. You could hear it on the airwaves last week. And you are going hear it at full throttle this week after the Redskins lost to the dreadful Lions on Sunday.

All the acrimony has little to do with this version of the Redskins, although losing to a team that had dropped 19 games in a row is difficult to swallow. It has a lot to do with the Redskins going nowhere season after season. It has everything to do with the Redskins winning the Super Bowl each offseason with this or that big-name signing and then looking lost and uninterested in the regular season.

So now there is the sense among many of the faithful that enough is enough, that nothing ever is going to change with this once-proud franchise so long as Dan Snyder is the owner.

Snyder, fair or not, embodies all that is wrong with the team, at least as far as the fans are concerned. They hate the owner. And they are puzzled by the coach, a decent man who is not going to get the time he needs to develop. And they no longer are in the mood to accept it, not after all these years.

That is the opportunity before the Wizards and Caps, with one team poised to recover from two-plus seasons of injuries and the other seemingly ready to make a run at the Stanley Cup.

These franchises boast the most marketable athletes in the region in Gilbert Arenas and Alex Ovechkin. They are entertaining teams to watch, the opposite of following the offensively challenged Redskins. And they are able to go about their business without all the drama that is endemic to the Redskins.

The Wizards and Caps do not have the parking-related issues that dog the Redskins. They are not oblivious to perceptions, as the Redskins sometimes appear to be. They are never accused of trying to squeeze one more dollar out of their fan base, as the Redskins routinely are.

These teams recognize the importance of stability and the danger in thinking that the next available big name is going to be the savior. And the Redskins are destined to hire another savior, whether it will be Bill Cowher, Mike Shanahan or Jon Gruden.

There will be another new system to learn. There probably will be another new quarterback to follow as well. The fans of the team already know how it will turn out, too. It will turn out like all the previous savior-comes-to-the-rescue missions.

The Wizards and Caps have no such burden in their recent pasts. The Wizards, healthy at long last, are looking to go deep into the playoffs this season. The Caps are thinking maybe they are just one lucky bounce of the puck away from being the next Stanley Cup champions after taking the eventual-champion Penguins to seven games last spring.

These teams have personality galore and a certain flair about them.

Ours long has been a Redskins town. But all that devotion is being squandered by the collective dysfunction of the franchise and its ineptitude on and off the field. It is too much. It has endured too long.

The sports public can take its support elsewhere and at least not develop an ulcer over it.

The Wizards and Caps will begin their seasons just in time to offer a diversion from a Redskins season that is already finished.

You want hope instead of the hopelessness of the Redskins?

Hope has taken root in Tony Cheng’s neighborhood with the Wizards and Caps.

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