The lament of a displaced Washington Redskin fan
SIMPLY PUT, I AM AN ALIEN. NO, NOT THAT kind. You guys at the Air Force and the INS can put your pens down. And the thing is, I could have done things differently. I could have blended with humanity, gotten with the program, gone with the flow. But no. I chose to live in a place where there is no room for me, where I am ostracized, shunned, derided and ridiculed.
I am a Redskin fan in Giant country.
For five years now, I have worked in New York. After I moved, I woke up one morning to discover that my wife and my job had brought me to the most ravenous sports pit in the country, a place expansive enough to accommodate more professional sports teams than any other city, including two football teams. Every Sunday, the airwaves are jammed -- but only with New York teams. The rest of the world is blacked out. You don't get the best game of the week; you get the Jets at 1 and the Giants at 4. For variety, you get the Giants at 1 and the Jets at 4.
Last year, my wife and I planned a trip to Connecticut to visit my in-laws. When my wife and her mother discussed our visit and realized that it would be on the weekend of the conference title game, there was a long silence from my mother-in-law. Then, in a worried tone: "I don't think Andy and your father should watch the game together." So my father-in-law, the long-suffering Giant fan, and I, the Redskin enthusiast, watched the game in our respective living rooms. My mother-in-law might think about a job at the United Nations.
As well as the 'Skins did last year -- reaching the playoffs and knocking off the Rams, then the Bears -- the Giants did better. Even now, if I dare to bring up our winning season, I usually get a digital response from my New York friends: three fingers, for the number of Giant (pronounced "Jint") wins over the Redskins last year; or just one finger, for what I can do the next time I want to rap about my team.
Do you know who sits next to me at the office? A guy whose father used to be the Giant team doctor. I never stopped hearing about the tickets waiting for him in Pasadena last January. However, he is always generous about offering me one of his seats in Giants Stadium when my braves on the warpath come to New York. He tells me that
Redskin fan Andrew Abrahams, left, discusses the merits of his team at Manny's, a bar near Giants Stadium. I'll be okay if I don't scream my head off when the Redskins score. "You know, just sort of keep your fists low and jab the air quietly if the Redskins make a good play," he advises.
What a fun time that would be. Heart, be still! No exhilaration? No rooting ritual? No thanks. I prefer to stay at home, dressed in my "Love Them Hogs" T-shirt, and scream to my heart's content.
My father, who has had two Redskin season tickets since 1962 (when Bill McPeak was coach and Norm Snead was the quarterback), has been put on notice that if he wants to fill my seat at any significant game at RFK, he must clear it with me first. And he knows that no one -- absolutely no one -- takes that seat when Dallas comes to town.
Seat 4, Row 19, Section 522 and I go back a long way. I occupied it for almost every home game from when I was 8 until I left for college in Syracuse. But even then I continued to stake my claim by driving down, 10 hours on Friday nights, 8 hours back on Sundays, often in blinding snowstorms, for a Giant or Cowboy game. I'm still doing my share to keep Amtrak in the black as I make my weekend runs from New York City to Union Station about four times a season. Not counting playoffs.
So why don't I act like a grown-up and quietly saunter over to the other side of this ancient rivalry? Why not give my insides a rest? I'd rather have been a stowaway on the Titanic. If, in my deepest subconscious, I had ever even considered switching, I knew I couldn't when the blue monsters won Super Bowl XXI and the city's collective ego inflated to 10 times its usual gargantuan size.
I think of those swelled heads now as I watch the Giants' defense of their title go up in foul-smelling Meadowlands smoke; as I see the Giants roll over and squander a fourth-quarter lead to the Cowboys; as I roam Barnes & Noble, gleefully looking at the remainder table for Simms to McConkey: Blood, Sweat and Gatorade; as I dream of Bill Parcells' being doused with buckets of bile.
Now I know how the French Resistance felt the day Allied troops marched into Paris. I walk the streets at night in my Riggo Ranger fatigues, joyfully humming "Hail to the Redskins," my demented laughter echoing in the canyons of concrete. ::
Andrew Abrahams is a reporter for People magazine.