Everyone is wrong about poor Tiger Irsay. The owner of the Baltimore Colts has replaced the WASP joke, rabbits and political jogging in sophisticated humor. As in Irsay's law of presidential survival: for every point inflation rises, Carter picks up 10,000 votes. That sort of folly.
But Robert Irsay was sports's resident loony long before giving his placekicker $10,000 "for trying" after he missed the last-second, chip-shot field goal Sunday that would have turned a three-point loss into overtime.
In truth, what Irsay did was not uniquely odd, or even strange, given the history of major professional team games. It is as American as motherhood and apple pie. The surprise is that nobody thought of it before, for the very foundation of big-league baseball, basketball and foot- ball -- the draft -- is built on rewarding incompetence.
The worst pro teams one year get first crack at the best semi-amateur players the next. The NFL motto for years has been: if at first you don't succeed, you might get O. J. Simpson in the draft. Which is Irsaythink at its best.
So you were mentally sacked. Undoubtedly, you were trying all the way -- and for that I'll offer Irsay-like compassion and allow you to continue reading.
Naturally, any discussion of incompetence immediately leads to the New York Giants. Seemingly, the Maras have been working at ineptitude for nearly two decades and may well see that labor produce a stunningly awful record this season. And first pick in the draft.
It is even money as to whether quarterback Joe Pisarcik completes a pass to a teammate before some defensive hulk scatters his bones about the Jersey swampland. Or whether a Giant rush man can ever get close enough to an opposition passer even to yell a mean word.
"That guy is a tough one." Redskin linebacker Brad Dusek said of Pisarcik. "He took some brutal shots out there -- and kept getting up."
The Redskins noticed on film that the Giant defense had a delightful tendency to surrender touchdown runs without being blocked. Or by being blocked with little difficulty.
How is that possible?
Well, the linebackers are likely to chase backs as they circle out of the backfield on either side immediately after the snap. And the defensive ends are likely to put an outside rush on the quarterback. Which leaves three blockers, the center and both guards, to eliminate two Giant tackles.
This is why offensive coordinator Joe Walton called a quarterback draw on third and goal from the seven early in the third period Monday night. There was one minor complication, the free safety, Ernie Jones.
"I thought he might blitz," Joe Theismann said. "If he comes, there's nobody to take him but me. But he went off on Bennie, or whoever the back (going out wide) was. And I was able to get it in."
Perhaps this is a bit mean-spirited toward the Giants, hobbled as they are by injuries, and without enough zest for the Redskins. Surely, they were far superior to a team that honestly figures to be slightly superior to themselves before the season began.
And who would have forecast the Redskins pitching a shutout against anyone this season?
"What this proved," said backup quarterback Kim McQuillken, who has time to consider such matters on the sideline, "is that we're 2-1 and still in the thick of things -- if we play every game like we did this one. We're showing potential, but we're also showing we still need lots of work."
The best way to see the Redskins at this moment and for the future is to create a new number, something that measures progress in perhaps the most realistic way. One new statistic will not cause any mental blowouts and this one will be known as SW.
Translation: should win.
Coaches and teams from the first time anyone began keeping score have been judged by a single letter: W. Too often that letter is misleading, because a season in retrospect includes a number of games teams such as the Redskins have no business winning.
In significance, SW ranks slightly below W and just above even with CTS (covering the spread). And at the moment the Redskin SW is 2-0.
They have beaten both teams they should have beaten.
Before the season, a fan or coach or player could realistically examine the Redskin schedule and see no SWs. The Giants figured to be better because they had a draft and had beaten Washington four of the previous five games. The Eagles had a draft -- and had made the playoffs. Detroit seemed a reasonable bet to win the NFC Central Division.
Then the Lions lost their first quarterback and their second. And the Giants lost Troy Archer in an auto crash and several other players to injuries.
Suddenly, Washington had two SWs -- and were successful. And with arguably the best middle linebacker in the NFL, Billy Bergey, cut for the season with a knee injury, the Redskins seem to have one more SW, at home against the Eagles Oct. 21.
SW is one of those numbers that change as the season progresses, reflecting injuries and general level of performance. At the moment, it would seem the Giant return game also is an SW. The Saints game might well be another and the Packer and Bengals two more. Like all else, in and out of sport, we take SWs one day at a time.