- - Tuesday, November 13, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Whenever a new Washington Redskins player is introduced to the fan base by the team, they will invariably speak about the rich tradition of the franchise, the Super Bowl trophies, the years of excellence.

Josh Norman did it after he signed a five-year $75 million contact to come play here, he embraced the history.

“I’m blessed and I’m very very fortunate enough to be here, with this magnitude of an organization,” he said. “I can’t say enough great things about it. The history here, 84 years plus, this is the golden age of football here in the NFC East, so I’m loving it.”

When he walked through the building and saw the three Super Bowl trophies, Norman spoke of how “strong” the fan base was and told reporters, “It just really felt right. I started looking like, ‘Man, we’re really here in Tiffany’s right now. This feels mighty nice. I can’t help but want to be part of something that’s special and great because we’re on the rise, man. Get on the train or get off.”

It sounds like the train has wrecked, though, based on Norman’s criticisms of the home crowd at FedEx Field this season following their 16-3 win over the Bucs in Tampa last Sunday.

“I feel like we play better on the road. I’m not going to lie,” Norman said, unsolicited. “Gosh, man. It just seems like the true fans . . . they really be with us on the road. We feed off of that.

“We go into the home stands, and it’s like an open bubble,” Norman said. “Like the other team’s turf or something. You hear more of them than you do us. Then if something bad happens, they suck. They sit back in their seat, and they boo. I don’t know. This year, I’m starting to see that.

“We come back to our home and it seems like guys don’t really care,” Norman said. “They just boo everything and aren’t really behind us. We don’t really feel that [support]. And I’m tired of it, really. (Shoot), we can play all the games on the road if you ask me. At the end of the day, the people who are going to be for you, the fans that really (have) your back, they’ll be there. The other ones, man, it is what it is. Can’t really speak on them. They’re going to talk about what they talk about anyway. They’re all keyboard warriors anyway.”

Somebody should give Norman another history lesson. The question that should be asked is not why haven’t fans shown up and supported this team.

The question should be why would anyone show up at FedEx Field this season and spend hundreds of dollars after decades of lying, abuse, dysfunction and malfeasance?

You think one 6-3 record is going to wipe that away?

This notion that the players on the field in 2018 for this franchise are unfairly criticized for the past sins is naïve and, quite frankly, juvenile — as if the world didn’t begin until yesterday.

You don’t get to select the history you want to embrace. You don’t get to bask in the glow of the Lombardi trophies and not wallow in the sewage that has gone through Redskins Park the last 20 years.

You sign the contract, you put on the jersey, you inherit all that comes with that uniform — both the gruesome and the glory.

Some of the key players on the Washington Capitals, like Nicklas Backstrom and others, finally recognized this after years of trying to disavow the legacy of playoff failure that preceded their arrival. They finally understood and connected with the fan base that suffered through years of disappointment.

That’s what made the connection between fans and Capitals players so special and strong when they finally did win the Stanley Cup — those players felt the pain of their fans, so they recognized the joy as well.

These Redskins are united, though, in their disconnect with their fan base. “Home games, that’s some of the worst things I’ve seen,” safety D.J. Swearinger said on 106.7 The Fan this week. “I’ve played on four different teams. Never seen it that bad, you know with other teams jerseys in the stands, with the boos. I’ve never been part of nothing like that.”

Four teams in six seasons — I’m a little leery about Swearinger’s experience with home crowds. He may have a hard time telling the difference.

Then he had the nerve to question the loyalty of Redskins fans. “You know we may have a lot of Redskins fans, but the loyalty, I don’t feel the loyalty.”

Loyalty? That’s rich. You hear players question loyalty when they are cut by management. And you hear it from fans when players leave a team for more money.

Loyalty is a card played when it suits your needs. My favorite line from the great film “North Dallas Forty” is what John Matuszak yells at his coach, “Every time I call it a game, you say it’s a business. Every time I say it’s a business, you call it a game.”

So, D.J. Swearinger, would you be willing to stay with the Redskins when your contract runs out next season for less money if another team offered you a better deal, out of loyalty to those fans who paid thousands of dollars over the course of season to watch you play, who spent money on your jersey and other Redskins merchandise to show their loyalty?

That would be ridiculous, wouldn’t it?

I’ve heard Norman and Swearinger being hailed for their honesty. Nonsense. If they were honest, they would have added to their criticisms that “it’s a shame that Redskins owner Dan Snyder damaged such passionate and strong fan base with his heavy-handed, incompetent, deceitful ownership over two decades. It’s a shame that he forced those fans to speak with their wallets and divorce themselves from the team they loved.”

Or haven’t they noticed the army of imported suits that have descended on Redskins Park to save the franchise?

If they were truly honest, they would have bitten the hand that feeds them — you know, the hand that buys their loyalty.

⦁ You can hear Thom Loverro on 106.7 The Fan Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings and also on the Kevin Sheehan Show podcast every Tuesday and Thursday.


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