The Washington Redskins weren't splintered by a four-game losing streak in which the offense sputtered while the defense flourished. However, sharp differences have emerged at Redskins Park over the team's role in the presidential election.
Since 1936 -- when the franchise moved from Boston to Washington -- whenever the Redskins lost their home game preceding the election, the incumbent party also lost.
The Redskins (2-4), who snapped their skid with a victory two weeks ago, will face the Green Bay Packers (3-4) at FedEx Field on Halloween. According to the streak, a Packers loss ensures that George Bush stays in office for a second term, but a Redskins loss means that John Kerry, the Democratic nominee, becomes the next president.
"That's kind of amazing," Coach Joe Gibbs said. "You wouldn't think that something like that would line up that many times."
The statistic has caused some players to be conflicted about Sunday's game. Cornerback Fred Smoot, a self-described liberal, was almost willing to concede another Bush term. But then Smoot reached a common solution at Redskins Park: Redskins Republicans have more incentive Sunday while Democrats hope that the streak ends despite a Redskins victory.
"It's kind of hard to say, because I want this game. We need this game," Smoot said yesterday. "I'm hoping John Kerry can reverse the curse. I'm wishing him luck. This is the millennium for things to be broken."
Then Smoot -- a registered Democrat in Jackson, Miss. -- couldn't resist a political remark. "We all know the president doesn't really run the country. It's the people around him," he said.
Quarterback Mark Brunell, a Republican, was not impressed by the streak: "Pure coincidence. I don't think there's anything to it."
But last week, Kerry's running mate, Sen. John Edwards, told a television station in La Crosse, Wis., that he would root against the Redskins because of the streak. Edwards, who lives in Georgetown, told WKBT-TV, "We are for the Packers, period."
When Gibbs was informed of Edwards's remark, he made a swift reply, then asked that it be struck from the record. Then Gibbs offered a, well, politically correct response. "Hopefully, we're going to have a lot of people pulling for us this weekend," the coach said, chuckling.
Joe Bugel, Washington's assistant head coach-offense, was more blunt when told about Edwards's position. "John Edwards just lost my vote" he said, then added slyly, "He never had it in the first place."
Brunell said: "Obviously, the Redskins are not John Edwards's favorite. And he's not my favorite either."
Gibbs, who already placed an absentee vote in North Carolina, declined to reveal his choice. ("Whether you're liberal or conservative," he said, "I want to be the Redskins' coach for everybody.") However, Gibbs's conservative leanings aren't a secret. After he announced his return to Washington, he was invited to speak at the National Prayer Breakfast at the Washington Hilton Hotel in February. On that occasion, President Bush alluded to Gibbs's return to the NFL, saying, "I'm all in favor of second terms."
Arrington Will Rest Knee
Linebacker LaVar Arrington -- who aggravated his right knee in Monday's practice -- won't work out on Wednesday as a precautionary measure, director of sports medicine Bubba Tyer said. The Redskins have described Arrington's situation as day-to-day.