Par for the curse: Redskins catch plenty of passes but no breaks

By Dan Steinberg
Monday, December 7, 2009

There seemed to be an inordinate amount of chatter about things such as providence and destiny after Sunday afternoon's ghastly Redskins loss.

"I definitely believe in destiny, and I believe in karma, and what goes around comes around," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said, after a game in which his team benefited from a punt that dropped out of the air onto a burgundy back, a Redskins interception that turned into a Redskins fumble that turned into a Saints touchdown, and a costly instant replay reversal in overtime.

On the other side of the field, the Redskins -- who are still waiting for it to stop going around and start coming around -- were mostly busy dismissing such notions.

"I don't know how to put words to it to describe it," long snapper Ethan Albright said of this dismal season.

Cursed, right?

"Sometimes it feels like it," he joked, but then said it wasn't so.

"There's no superstition about it, no psycho stuff going on here," Coach Jim Zorn said.

"Nah, don't believe in those curses," injured left tackle Chris Samuels agreed.

"Sometimes it just bounces your way, sometimes you just get lucky," center Casey Rabach said. "I don't know, cursed? It's hard to say. It's really hard to say cursed. Everything happens for a reason, but it's just a tough season all the way around, and a loss like that makes it even tougher."

Now I don't actually believe the Redskins to be cursed, but for some reason I then wandered out to the FedEx Field parking lot. Where I saw three men, dressed in some sort of religious regalia, talking about . . . well, you guessed it.

"There's no way [Shaun Suisham] was making that kick," Keith Williams said of the gimme field goal that the Redskins inexplicably missed. "We put the voodoo all over them."

See, I'm not sure how serious he and his two buddies were, because some of their religious paraphernalia doubled as drink holders. But they told me how their seats at the Superdome are located right near where opposing place kickers warm up. And how they think they've won more games for New Orleans over the years than some guys in uniform. And how, even though they were on the other side of the field on Sunday, they directed their usual voodoo routine in Suisham's direction.

"The gris-gris," Williams explained.

"It's a hex," added Hank Staples, the owner of New Orleans's iconic Maple Leaf Bar.

"If he would have made that kick, I'd have been shocked," Williams added. "Shocked."

The three men had no shortage of New Orleans compatriots in the parking lot, where people wandered around shouting "Who Dat," their beads jiggling and their drinks flowing downhill. The men couldn't agree on their name: "The Three Bishops?" Mark Morice said, before Staples suggested "The Three Popes."

"There's only one pope," Morice argued.

"Not in our church!" Staples said.

I told them that some Redskins fans, at least, were feeling rather cursed this season, with their Pro Bowlers littering the injured reserve list, with three straight fourth-quarter losses by a total of seven points, with one bad bounce after another. They laughed. Washington fans, they said, don't know what it means to feel cursed.

"This is a blip on the highway of the great Redskins journey," Staples told me. "It's merely a speed bump."

"You can always count on next year," Williams added. "We've been doing it for a long time."

Which probably wouldn't offer much solace to the Redskins players, who were trying to make sense of this season.

"I mean, it's just bizarre, at best," Rabach said.

Albert Haynesworth was asked whether he'd ever been part of a loss like this in his career.

"Not really," he said. "And hopefully it don't ever happen again, because I don't think I can take that much."

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