As a native New Yorker, Peter Mehlman has often asserted that life in Washington is a contradiction in terms. This is especially true during the football season when Washingtonians' preoccupation with the Redskins ranks slightly ahead of breathing. Hating the Redskins in this town doesn't land you on many Christmas card lists.

This is not to say Mehlman is some kind of renegade. He did try liking the Redskins once. He went up to a Redskin fan and said, "The 'Skins are the greatest thing to ever happen to the Western Hemisphere." Although Mehlman couldn't have been more facetious if he uttered the words in Pig Latin, the Redskin fan instantly offered him 25 shares of Chris Hamburger Ford stock.

Actually, Mehlman doesn't hate the Redskins as much as he hates the obsession with the team. He can't understand how Washingtonians are still talking about a 1972 Super Bowl team that scored its only touchdown when a Greek-Cypriot soccer player tried his first lifetime forward pass.

Mehlman is a New York Giant fan . . . not a fanatic . . . just a fan. He doesn't walk around Georgetown reminding people that the Giants have beaten the Redskins in five of their last eight meetings, and he doesn't want to bring it up now. So Mehlman offers 20 good reasons to hate the Redskins (out of a pool of 36,000 good reasons).

1. Because you're reading this with clenched teeth.

2. Because someone spent more than eight seconds to write a song called "Hail to the Redskins."

3. Because they made burgundy the dominant color for Washington clothing.

4. Because 88 percent of Redskins' season ticket holders take a tax deduction on their seats.

5. Because a Redskin ticket is an acceptable piece of currency in Washington.

6. Because George Allen, who put this team on the map, was fired.

7. Because the Redskins snubbed Richard Nixon by not considering him as Allen's replacement.

8. Because they stopped trading draft choices they don't have.

9. Because a retired Redskin can walk into a broadcasting job that could have been filled by someone who understands English syntax.

10. Because The Washington Post runs four stories and The Washington Star nine the day after a game.

11. Because Sonny Jurgensen could be elected mayor tomorrow.

12. Because Joe Theismann has been compared to Joe Namath on and off the field.

13. Because Mark Moseley's right shoe weighs 30 pounds.

14. Because the Redskins are a slow team. Most of the players are clocked with a calendar in the 100-yard dash.

15. Because they never gave in to John Riggins' brilliantly ridiculous contract demands.

16. Because during the football season, Washingtonians talk about the Redskins so much they have to be fed intravenously.

17. Because local broadcasters refer to the Redskins as "We." (As in, "We had a rough day in Dallas yesterday.")

18. Because the Redskins all live in Virginia, train in Carlisle, Pa., and have virtually nothing to do with Washington.

19. Because Redskin fans have booed Billy Kilmer, Roger Staubach and a 10-year-old kid wearing a Dallas uniform in the Punt, Pass and Kick competition.

20. Because they're there.