Mark Lindamood never bought a jersey for his favorite Redskins player last season. He had always been superstitious about sports, and he didn’t want to jinx Robert Griffin III by wearing a No. 10 uniform until after the quarterback completed his rookie season.
Lindamood’s family finally bought him that jersey last week, but the purchase wasn’t how they had imagined it. The 33-year old lifelong Redskins fanatic died suddenly of cardiac arrest last Monday. He had been perfectly healthy, was less than a week removed from a physical, and now he was gone.
His wife, Bridget, is from Philadelphia, a massive Eagles fan. The two of them used to squabble about their teams constantly, even on weeks when they played random AFC opponents. They got DIRECTV’s Sunday Ticket and spent Sunday afternoons in different rooms; he watched the Redskins on the main television, and she watched the Eagles in their bedroom.
But after her husband’s tragic death, Bridget made a decision: She would root for the Redskins this season. What’s more, she would turn the tough upcoming days into a celebration of her husband’s fandom.
And so their seven-year old daughter Emily, who had been veering toward the Eagles in recent years, wore an RGIII jersey virtually all week. Mark was dressed in a brand new RGIII jersey during the two viewings on Friday, which lasted five hours and attracted hundreds and hundreds of loved ones. Attendees were encouraged to wear Redskins gear, and probably 80 percent of them did, paying their respects in burgundy and gold. Bridget, Emily, stepson Nick, Mark’s mother Linda and countless others — including Giants, Eagles and Cowboys fans — wore RGIII jerseys to the viewing.
At Saturday’s funeral, Mark was buried in that same jersey. Family members put a Redskins sticker on the vault. And after the interment, there were a few moments of silence, and then Bridget asked the funeral director to lead the crowd of hundreds in a soft rendition of ‘Hail to the Redskins.’
“Everybody was smiling,” recalled younger brother Bryan, who shares Mark’s love of the team. “It was a good tribute. It brought light to [the day], especially when everyone started stumbling on the second verse, like everybody always does.”
The Lindamoods came by their fandom honestly; they were raised in Manassas during the glory years, when just about every season ended in the playoffs and life stood still on Sunday afternoons.
“The biggest part of our childhood was going every Sunday to our parents’ friends’ house after church and watching the Redskins,” Bryan said. “Every Sunday. We caught on in the early ’80s, and have been fanatics ever since. He bled this team.”
Now look, this is all kind of heavy: a young man, with two kids, gone way too soon, and remembered through his newfound favorite player and the football team he loved. And Mark’s loved ones wouldn’t disagree that they were remembering him in a slightly unusual fashion. But so what?
“Bridget doesn’t care about what anyone thinks, how absurd it is, how casual it is,” Bryan told me. “She doesn’t care. She’s 100 percent focused on Mark. And she believes that he’s upstairs grinning ear-to-ear at the fact that she’s trying so hard to accommodate everything he loves.”
Mark’s obituary photo shows him in his Brian Orakpo jersey, posing by the Lombardi trophies at Redskins Park. A family friend contacted the Redskins — on July 4, of all days — and a team representative wrote back almost immediately, suggesting they would host the family at a home game this season. Someone else worked on getting the team’s permission to engrave the team logo on Mark’s gravestone. And the team had someone drive a full-sized flag to the funeral home, where it was draped over the coffin.
The team’s speedy response further convinced Bridget to cheer the Redskins on this season, in honor of her husband. And Bryan suspects her support might linger on for more than a few months.
“I doubt it’s just for one season,” he said. “I think she’s always going to have a place for the Redskins in her heart now.”