- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 9, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

It’s a new season, a new dawn, and even in the chaotic, dysfunctional universe that surrounds the Washington Redskins, the fact remains that they have not lost a game yet.

Hope may exist only until the third quarter of the first regular season game on Sept. 13 at FedEx Field against the Miami Dolphins, but the reality is that this is the window of time where hope has not been crushed like a first-round offensive lineman.

Hope, though, may be the bane of the existence of Redskins fans.

Hope, in the case of this franchise, gets in the way of real change — true change.

With the arrival of every new decision-maker at Redskins Park, fans are sold the illusion of hope. Every single key decision-maker now at Redskins Park — the ones who have contributed to making this team the laughingstock of the NFL — arrived with the promise of hope.

All of them stood before Redskins fans and said, “Believe in me — I am the future.”

In May 1999, Dan Snyder told reporters after he was approved as the new owner of the franchise that he was “not focused on the money. I’m focused on the opportunity and the dream.”

“Hundreds of fans have written to me with their support and suggestions. … Your most pressing issue is no different than mine. You want to win, we want to win, and we’re going to deliver that.”

Not focused on the money? That was in 1999.

More than 10 years later, the son of the great George Allen — who promised hope when he arrived as the Redskins‘ coach in 1971 and promptly delivered it with an NFC championship the following season — stood before Redskins fans and also, like his father, promised hope.

“It’s exciting because of the history, the tradition, the comfort about coming home,” Bruce Allen said. “Everybody who knows me — and hopefully, you’ll get to know me better — knows that the principles of football, in my mind, are simple. It’s a team. It’s 53 men, the entire staff, everybody in the building, going in the same direction for one common goal.”
It’s a team. That was in 2010.

Four years later, after Mike Shanahan, who also arrived at Redskins Park with two Super Bowl rings and a suitcase full of hope, was fired, someone else addressed Redskins fans with the promise of hope.

“Talking to Mr. Snyder — Dan Snyder — and Bruce, I just have a firm belief everything they were saying and their passion for the team and the city, the fan base, is legitimate,” Jay Gruden said. “I’m a pretty good reader of people and I can tell when I’m being lied to, and I could honestly tell you this: Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen have the fans’ best interests at heart and the players’ best interests at heart, and all they want to do is field a winning team. They’re giving me an opportunity to take this team to a great level, and I’m going to do everything I can to prove them right.”

Take this team to a great level. That was 2014.

Then, there was the arrival of the Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse this past January — another layer of hope 12 months after Gruden told Redskins fans, “We have great expectations here. We expect to win soon.

“It’s not just about me, it’s about the individuals around this building from the personnel standpoint and from the coaches standpoint,” new general manager Scot McCloughan said. “I’m very excited, looking forward to it. There’s a lot of work ahead of us, but I strive for that. I’m going to outwork the next guy no matter what. I’m going to have great communication with everybody in the building that matters in personnel and in coaching, and when we make decisions, we’ll make them as a group. We’ll take ownership for the players and we’re going to get better.”

Great communication. That was in 2015.

There you have it, people. This is the group that has led this franchise to this point — concussion conspiracies, quarterbacks declaring they “just work here,” team officials accused by spouses of leaking information for sexual favors, continued reports of the owner meddling with football decisions and one losing season after another.

This is the group that wants to win, that has declared the principle of football that it is a team, that it is going to take this team to the next level and that will take ownership for the players.

Each one of these Redskins decision-makers stood before you at one point and offered the promise of hope.

Hope?

“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”

• Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 and espn980.com.

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