There is an NFL team other than the Washington Redskins that also plays in the state of Maryland and whose name starts with the letter “R.”
That team might as well play in a different world — the Bizarro World.
The Bizarro World is the “Superman” reference made famous by the television show “Seinfeld.” It’s where everything is the opposite of your world.
Saturday night, Redskins fans, your team faces its polar opposite — the Baltimore Ravens.
If you are going to the game and it is your first time at M&T Bank Stadium — the home of the Ravens — you will look around and see a stadium that is the opposite of FedEx Field.
You’ll see a stadium that creates a fan intimacy with the game, where blocks of seats are not covered with Home Depot empty stadium illusion kits. And, on the way in and out, you might notice how easy it is to watch the game and then to leave the stadium.
Jack Kent Cooke may have stood in the way of an NFL team arriving in Baltimore after the Colts left in 1983, but Baltimore got its revenge on Cooke with a home field far superior to what Cooke left behind for Redskins fans.
The opposites continue on the field, where the Ravens are on just their third coach since the Browns moved to Baltimore from Cleveland in 1996.
John Harbaugh, now in his eighth season in Baltimore, was asked recently in a press conference about the stability of the organization, and his long-winded answer should make Redskins fans cry.
“If you can survive a couple years in this league and have a little success, which we were fortunate enough to do, because we have an incredible organization – [owner] Steve [Bisciotti], [general manager and executive vice president] Ozzie [Newsome], [assistant general manager] Eric DeCosta, [director of pro personnel] Vince Newsome, [senior vice president of public and community relations] Kevin Byrne — everybody in our organization … If you can survive, then you get a chance to get your feet underneath you a little bit as a head coach and figure out what you believe in,” Harbaugh said.
It’s almost like a different language than what we’ve heard from coaches at Redskins Park.
“The thing that’s interesting to me is everything we believed in the first day, we still believe in this day,” he continued. “The principles have remained the same, and now you’re eight years into it and your players believe in it completely. You have the veterans teaching young guys, [saying], ‘This is how we do things.’ Methods you can change. You can change what time you practice or what time you go to bed or what offense you run, but the principles — rough, tough, physical, disciplined, a fundamentally-sound football team that works hard — that never changes.”
Granted, we are talking about an organization that can’t seem to keep their players out of the police blotter, but football-wise, those principles that Harbaugh spoke of have defined this organization on the field.
Tell me, what are the football principles of the Redskins’ organization? What has been handed down from veterans to young players? How to survive the dysfunction?
The contrasts right now are laughable. Consider the toxic turmoil the Redskins are going through now with their quarterback position. Harbaugh gushed about the comfort of knowing he has a quarterback he can trust in Joe Flacco.
“It’s a blessing,” Harbaugh told reporters. “We all talk about it. You can’t do it without a quarterback. You can overcome a lot, and you can overcome it for a short period of time, but to have a guy here from the beginning — from the beginning of his career, local guy here, mature, just a stud of a guy — it’s great.”
We all talk about it, too, John, except, given everything that is up in the Ravens world is down at Redskins Park, I believe it’s called a “curse” in Washington.
Flacco was equally happy with his coach.
“He comes in and lays it down how he wants it to be, he sticks to his guns, and he’s honest with us,” he said. “We know what to expect, and as he’s been here with us — and I’ve been here with him. He’s part of the core group of guys that has been here. He trusts us, we trust him, and I think it works really well.”
Trust. Honest. These are words that seem to only exist in the Bizarro World of the Washington Redskins.
• Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 and espn980.com.