If you spent many months planning a lengthy magazine issue about Washington D.C. sports, it wouldn’t be horrible timing for the content to start emerging the day after the city’s baseball team won its first championship in 79 years, and two days after the city’s franchise quarterback pulled off the first fourth-quarter comeback of his NFL career.
“Yes, I am absolutely reveling in everything that’s happened over the past few days,” laughed Rob King, a lifelong D.C. sports fan and the senior vice president of editorial for ESPN digital and print media. “Just a happy collection of coincidences.”
Rather than focus on a single team or player, the cover of ESPN the Magazine’s D.C. issue — which hits newsstands later this week — takes a city-wide approach. So, too, does the magazine itself, with an incredible assortment of D.C. content. (Much of it will be available here in coming days.)
Among the highlights:
* First-person accounts of D.C. fandom (or journalism-hood) from Tony Kornheiser, Michael Wilbon, Steve Weissman, Lindsay Czarniak, Scott Van Pelt, Bram Weinstein, Jorge Andres, Reese Waters and others.
* A story by former Post staffer Howard Bryant on the arrival of Robert Griffin III, and his potential to transform the nature of Washington as a sports town.
* A lengthy look at Mike Rizzo’s history of building the Nats through provocative and gutsy moves, by Buster Olney.
* A story by D.C. native Tim Kurkjian on how Major League teams are reacting to the Strasburg Shutdown, and to protecting their prized young arms.
* A fascinating read comparing the shared Redskins obsessions of Dan Snyder and Dave McKenna, by Seth Wickersham.
* A Kevin van Valkenburg look at John Wall’s efforts to revive the Wizards.
* A piece on Alex Ovechkin’s trip through young savior status, and whether his lack of championships means he’s “lost his grip on this town,” by Sarah Turcotte.
* A Jordan Brenner piece on the recruiting rivalry between Georgetown and Maryland.
* A Don Van Natta Jr. story on Barack Obama’s golf game.
* A look at the Romney Family Olympics.
* A piece on athletes’ opinions about the presidential election and various other hot-button issues.
That’s a lot of Washington content. I’ll have a bit more on several of these stories in the coming days, but for now, let me quote the end of Bryant’s excellent piece on RGIII and D.C. sports as a whole. The headline asks if “the arrival of Robet Griffin III [will] finally let Washington, D.C. relax and become a sports town not defined by losing,” and the closing paragraphs return to that question, in the moments after RGIII’s home debut.
The sea of No. 10 jerseys that emerge from the stadium after the loss will be seen all over the city the next week, from Dupont Circle to Kingman Park. He remains the hero their team has been waiting for.
Too much? Who knows? Who cares? All that matters now is that he is offering this ring-starved town an opportunity to wipe away the past, start something new and make it right. A chance to elevate not just the Redskins but the town’s sports profile. Over the next several months, leading into the next several years, DC, as a sports town, will be defined by what its teams do with this chance of a lifetime. If the Natitude can be sustained through this year’s World Series and beyond, if the city’s dormant love for basketball re-emerges due to the promise offered by John Wall, if Alex Ovechkin returns from the lockout rejuvenated — maybe DC is ready to rewrite a story that hasn’t had a happy ending since Bush I was in office.
It is an awesome proposition, a grand challenge. But on this Sunday, with this quarterback, you can already see a small sign of a bigger movement to come. Held aloft by a Redskins fan before kickoff, it reads:
GRIFFIN III FOR PRESIDENT, 2012.
And if you think that all is too much, here’s a tweet I received from a fan Tuesday morning.
“Ovie, wall, rg3, harper,stras,” he wrote. “I’m 62. Never in my lifetime have we ever had national names in all major sports!”
Can’t argue with that.