Michael Ellis Thompson -- aka "M.E.T.," aka "The Natural," aka "The Architect," aka "The Man of Steel," aka "The Dark Side of the Force" -- is a District native. He grew up in Northeast. He went to Eastern Senior High. And he fronts the Washington area R&B/jazz/go-go band L!SSEN, whose debut album -- "Based on a True Story" -- is scheduled to be released this fall. So why in the world does he root for the 49ers?

I think I got tired of watching the Redskins year after year disappoint. And the very first game I saw when I got conscious of competitive football was a 'Monday Night Football' game between the Redskins and the 49ers. And I just fell in love with Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Roger Craig, Ronnie Lott, guys like that.

That must be sort of controversial for a Washington, D.C., bandleader?

Very much so. This city is very deeply rooted into their sports, especially the Redskins, with them being pretty much the only game in town with the Bullets/Wizards not being too competitive until recently. The Redskins have been one of the only things for people to cling to. So it's definitely a controversial thing, but the 49ers have five Super Bowl rings and the Redskins have three, so in any argument I kind of trump them. It's kind of hard arguing Mark Rypien against Steve Young. One is in the Hall of Fame and the other will never get there.

Any lack of harmony in the band?

Oh no, not at all. All it causes is spirited argument about who's the best, who has the best players, who's going to have the best season. But it's all in great fun.

Have you taken advantage of any recent chances to make fun of the Skins fans in the band?

Very much so. Very, very, very much so. The Redskins fans, you have to admire them in a sense, because every single year they have the greatest, highest aspirations of making the Super Bowl. It's so amazing to me. They have this outlook and this vision that nobody else in the league shares. But once a year goes and they start going 0-5, I guess reality starts setting in. But they have the biggest aspirations, and you have to admire that.

Are you a Wizards fan?

Uh, no. I'm not crazy. I used to be a Chicago Bulls fan, but once Michael Jordan retired I just was a basketball fan in general.

So a D.C. bandleader, not a Wizards fan, not a Redskins fan?


How does that work?

It's not one of those things where I wear a 49ers hat every day and get ridiculed for it. D.C. is so diverse, you can go into a room full of guys and not everyone is a Redskins fan. That's one of the things that makes D.C. unique. My mother was a Dallas Cowboys fan, and everybody else in my family is Redskins fans. Being a music director and being in the city of Washington, D.C., is definitely a blessing for me because I'm able to interact with people of all cultures. Our band comes from all different backgrounds, jazz and classical, and we have different loves and passions, and that's what makes our band so good.

Are there any D.C. teams you root for?

The Nationals, definitely the Nationals. That's my very first official baseball team. Definitely, win, lose or draw I am a Nationals fan.

-- Dan Steinberg