- The Washington Times - Monday, November 12, 2018

ASHBURN — Josh Norman’s complaints about Redskins fans being too fickle and too few in number at home games are spot on, says teammate D.J. Swearinger, who went even further, calling the home-field advantage at FedEx Field as nonexistent as any he’s seen.

And Swearinger isn’t new to the NFL.

“I played on four different teams, never seen it that bad with other teams’ jerseys in the stands, with the boos, whatever it may be,” Swearinger told 106.7 The Fan on Monday. “I’ve never been part of nothing like that.”

A day after Norman torched the team’s fanbase following the team’s 16-3 road win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Swearinger and other members of the Redskins weighed in on the topic.

Talking with reporters after the win in Tampa Bay, Norman said the team’s fans “boo everything,” adding they sulk when things go wrong. He said other fanbases cheer for their team “regardless of good or bad or indifferent.”

Washington’s attendance and energy level from fans have been debated for years, but it’s been particularly relevant this season with the team struggling to fill the stadium.

The Redskins rank 26th in attendance this year, according to ESPN — averaging 61,201 per home game. They’re also dead-last in terms of capacity at 74.6 percent and had their self-proclaimed 50-year sellout streak end.

Swearinger said he would rather play on the road.

Washington is 3-1 away and 3-2 at home this year.

“It affects you to the point to where you want to get the crowd involved,” Swearinger said. “I recall when I was in [Arizona] or in Houston, I would always wave my hands up just to get the crowd up. Which, you know, if I do it here, it’s like a ‘blah.’ I’m stretching my arms. Like nobody, they don’t see us getting the crowd up.”

Swearinger said he doesn’t “feel the loyalty” from the fanbase.

The comments have drawn criticism. Fans have pointed to the team’s lengthy history of losing as a reason for not supporting the product.

Washington’s stadium, too, is considered outdated in a league where news stadiums have proliferated.

A 2018 study from GoBankingRates ranked FedEx Field as the ninth-most expensive stadium to see an NFL game.

“We just want our crowd to be behind us at the end of the day,” running back Chris Thompson said. “We want it to be packed out and have our fans supporting us right now. That’s it. I know we haven’t had a Super Bowl or haven’t had anything for fans to be overly excited about, but it’s the NFL.

“It’s not easy. None of those Super Bowl teams went undefeated either. At the end of the day we just want it to be packed out and have it hard for the opposing team to hear out there. Our defense feeds off that energy for sure.”

The Redskins were appreciative of the many Redskins fans who were at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday. Swearinger high-fived the burgundy-and-gold faithful after the game. Linebacker Mason Foster said the support brought an “incredible feeling.”

Now at 6-3 and with a two-game lead in NFC East, Washington hopes fans jump on the bandwagon — and start bringing the energy at home games.

The Redskins return to FedEx Field on Sunday to face the Houston Texans. Norman and star running back Adrian Peterson each posted messages on Twitter that urged fans to show up.

Norman said the Redskins have worked hard to be in first place and now it was the fanbase’s turn to make their stadium a place where visitors “fear” of playing because of the noise.

Peterson added the stadium needed to be “rocking.”

“It can get you over the hump,” Foster said. “I know that people don’t believe it, but you go into some of the places like that and their fans are behind them. … We need the fans to come out and be supportive, have a blast, man, you know what I mean? Get you some hot dogs or whatever it may be.

“Get everybody nice and ready at the tailgate and get in there and let’s have a blast together.”

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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