Friday the 13th has nothing on number 26 around here

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By Dan Steinberg
Thursday, November 12, 2009

"Defenses," Al Saunders once said, "fear number 26."

Saunders was talking about Clinton Portis, likely the most famous 26 in modern D.C. sports history, with apologies to Ifeanyi Ohalete. But maybe we're past the age of defenses fearing number 26, and moving on to a strange era in which we should all fear number 26. Hey, this stuff works for Dan Brown, right?

The Redskins, of course, are currently 2-6. The Wizards are, well golly, they're also 2-6! But that hardly begins to describe what's going on here.

Portis, who wears 26 for the burgundy and gold, has a concussion. He's extremely doubtful for this weekend's game. Bryan Namoff, the owner of No. 26 for D.C. United, missed the final month of the regular season. Oddly, he also had a concussion.

The latest Wizard to get hurt was Randy Foye, in Tuesday's loss to the Heat. Just before the season started, Foye celebrated his 26th birthday.

Not yet convinced? Okay, add 2 and 6, and you get 8. That's Alex Ovechkin, who is injured and not playing. Subtract 2 from 6, and you get 4. That's Antawn Jamison, who has missed the entire regular season with a shoulder issue, and still isn't playing.

In recent weeks, the Redskins have lost Hunter Smith (3), Chris Cooley (47) and Chris Horton (48), who was just placed on injured reserve, ending his season. Let's see, 3 plus 4 plus 7 plus 4 plus 8. . . . yup, 26.

The Redskins' glory years started in 1983. That's the year they won their first Super Bowl, giving John Riggins the MVP trophy that helps make his voice still relevant all these years later. Or, to be exact, 26 years later. The most recent championship won by a D.C. team in a big-four sport was the Redskins' 1992 victory over the Bills. That was Super Bowl XXVI. That means 26.

These, though, are not the glory years. I just got the latest NFL ratings from Las Vegas Sports Consultants, the advisers to most Nevada sports books. They have the Redskins ranked 26th in the league.

As I've often noted, the Redskins have the second-longest drought between 30-point games in the NFL, behind only the Lions.

How long has it been since the Redskins reached 30? Try 26 games.

Also, Gilbert Arenas's $111 million salary has not exactly worked out thus far for the Wizards. I mean, $111 over six years; that's a lot of money. Works out to something like $226,000 a game.

Oh, and when Manny Acta was fired earlier this year, his Nationals had 61 losses. But the losses weren't the main problem; the problem was the team had just 26 wins.

Speaking of the Nats and losses, you know what jersey number perpetual loser Giant Teddy Roosevelt wears? Yeah, sure you do.

Or how about 2/6, as in Feb. 6? That was the date when Steve Spagnuolo left town in 2008, after hours of unsuccessful meetings with owner Daniel Snyder, leading to the Reign of Zorn.

Or the most recent 2/6, as in Feb. 6, 2009. The Wizards got destroyed at home by the Nuggets, and were booed repeatedly as fans did the wave almost as a mocking gesture of frustration. "It was embarrassing," Jamison said that day. "Honestly, I thought some of my guys were scared to be out there playing tonight."

So I guess the only remaining question is how Shaone Morrisonn fits into all of this.

(Oh wait! Some good news! The Terps, with a starting back-court of Greivis Vasquez (21) and Eric Hayes (5), are 26th in the AP's preseason poll! Better than 27th, no?)


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