- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 2, 2000

This should be the best time of year for Washington sports. We have entered that time when all three of our major professional teams Redskins, Capitals and Wizards are playing at the same time.

This town is juiced, right?

Not hardly.

There is no particularly heightened level of interest in sports in this town right now. The lack of buzz about the Wizards is understandable. The most feeling anyone can manage about Washington's NBA franchise is numbness, even with the biggest star in the history of the game running the team.

By the way, every game the Wizards lose puts them one more away from one of Michael Jordan's goals to be a .500 team. That means tomorrow night's home opener against the New York Knicks is very important. It has significant mediocrity implications.

How bad is it for the Wizards? I think it's safe to say that the Capitals have bigger local stars than the Wizards. Chris Simon and Olie Kolzig are bigger in this town than Juwan Howard and Rod Strickland.

Let's give a warm MCI welcome to new coach Leonard Hamilton tomorrow night, though, in the pregame introductions. It will likely be the highlight of his Wizards coaching career.

The Caps have been playing lackluster hockey for several weeks now but showed some signs of coming out of it Tuesday night when Richard Zednik had a hat trick in their 6-2 win over Detroit.

No one, not even in hockey towns, gets too excited about the sport in November, and there is a sense of confidence and optimism that general manager George McPhee and coach Ron Wilson will get this team going well enough to win and make the playoffs.

With Ted Leonsis' fan-friendly style of management, that was enough last season and probably will be enough again this season. However, good will lasts only so long, and at some point in the near future, fans will want the Caps Web site to be stanleycupchampions.com.

There is no such patience or good will, though, for the biggest fish in the sea, the Redskins. They are 6-3, and by all rights on their way to a successful season despite their Monday night loss to Tennessee.

But there is no joy in Redskinsville. No one seems to be very happy about rooting for the Redskins these days. There seems to be more anger than satisfaction. More fans are angry about parking and pedestrian problems at FedEx Field. Stadium workers are unhappy about working conditions. The NFL is angry about the team's obnoxious efforts to pump up the fans.

Did you hear the boos Monday night after Samari Rolle took that Brad Johnson pass at the end of the first half and ran it 81 yards for a touchdown? You never heard booing like that against a Redskins team at RFK Stadium. It seems like the fans have adopted owner Dan Snyder's attitude about the team winning is the only option. There is no room for compassion or patience. Like Dan Snyder, the fans, too, now have too much money at stake.

However, it was nice to see someone with the No. 21 on his jersey running with the ball for a touchdown. Too bad it wasn't the one they expected to see do it. Deion Sanders came to the stadium Monday night wearing a checkered suit outfit. You can't buy taste, but apparently you can buy tablecloths and have them tailored.

Deion should be wearing that suit Matthew Lesko wears on those commercials to sell his book about how to get government money and free stuff you know, the one with all the question marks on it. That would be a suit that would fit Deion's presence, at least as a punt returner. Isn't that one of the reasons he was brought here?

The Redskins should come away with a win Sunday in Arizona, giving them a 7-3 record going into the bye week. Given the injuries to the offensive line and receivers, that's a pretty good accomplishment.

(In fact, given the remarkable performance of the decimated offensive line and particularly the loss of Tre Johnson, they should induct line coach Russ Grimm into the Pro Football Hall of Fame for this coaching job. Grimm and fellow Hog Joe Jacoby are again on the ballot for Canton.)

But even if this team manages to win 11 or 12 games despite the injuries and makes the playoffs, there is a sense that it won't be enough for fans unless the Redskins wind up in the Super Bowl. That tone is set right at the top, in the owner's box, and now runs through the stands at FedEx Field.

These should be good times for Washington sports fans, when they have a choice of all three of their major pro teams on stage. So where is the juice?

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