Matthew Maury has had Redskins season tickets since 1980. He’s missed perhaps five home games in that span. Last month, Maury and the two friends with whom he shares club seats decided that the 27-7 home loss to Tampa was the worst Redskins game they had ever attended, narrowly sinking beneath the 3-0 loss to the Jets in December of 1993.
The record stood for three weeks.
“When we got in the car [Sunday], two of the guys were making the argument that, astoundingly, this game was worse,” Maury, 62, said on Monday. “It’s embarrassing, it’s frustrating, it’s not a good experience.”
But Sunday, Maury did something new. He got a custom-made t-shirt, reading “I Paid $500 For This?” (With parking, his single club seat costs $5700 a year, divided by 10 games.) He wore the shirt under his sweater. And when the Redskins gave up a 78-yard punt return to the Rams, running the deficit to 24-0, Maury stood up, bowed his head, and showed off his new apparel.
— Elizabeth Harley (@Elle_Harley) December 7, 2014
“The entire section started applauding and taking pictures,” Maury said. “That’s where it’s gotten to.”
Why wear such a shirt? Because sometimes, you have to do something.
“Why does someone put a bag on their head?” Maury asked, rhetorically. “Why does someone walk around the stadium with a Snyder Sucks sign? What can a fan do? It’s one thing to lose; it’s another thing to lose the way we are, to have experienced so many mistakes, from Spurrier to Haynesworth to Zorn to McNabb to the mess they’ve made of Robert Griffin. This is a dumpster fire of epic proportion.”
“It was just a sort of silent protest,” Maury said. “What more does a fan do?”
And that seemed to be the feeling of the day. Fans want to do something, anything, more than just scream at the indifferent sky. Take Matt Foresta, a 32-year old Redskins fan from Calvert County. In the past, Foresta has attempted to exercise manifest destiny on his Ravens-loving neighbor, putting a Redskins sign on her porch, a Redskins gnome in her garden, a Redskins flag in her flag holder.
After Sunday’s loss, Foresta took that same Redskins flag, put it on his grill, and cooked up some burgundy barbecue.
— Matt Foresta (@MattForesta) December 8, 2014
“It was painful to burn it, honestly,” Foresta wrote in an e-mail. “I’m barely hanging on as a fan. They need to make changes and show me why I should stay a fan.”
Or take Harsh Patel, a 36-year old former season ticket holder from Burke. He was one of the paper-bag brigade on Sunday, and there was a wave of fans to tell him they agreed with his bag’s plea for a new general manager.
“We always joke that it can’t get any worse, but this year by far is the worst I can imagine,” Patel said. “Before it was always we’re a coach away, a franchise quarterback away. But now there really isn’t that much light at the end of the tunnel.”
— harsh patel (@hpatel1978) December 7, 2014
Or take Christine Stout from Reston. As a teenager in the early ’70s, she requested a spot on the team’s season-ticket waitlist, writing a letter that her father signed. After more than two decades of waiting, she and her brother finally got their season tickets when FedEx Field opened in 1997, and have kept them since.
Sunday, Christine and her son began “a serious consideration” about dropping the seats.
“It’s just gone on too long,” she told me on Monday. “We don’t see any improvement. The fans give everything to the team, and we’re just not getting anything out of it….It kind of came to a head [Sunday], because it’s getting worse. You don’t want to be losers forever. Pretty soon everybody’s going to have bags over their heads.”
Such angst rained from the heavens on Monday. One early-morning caller to ESPN 980 pronounced Colt McCoy “garbage,” predicted Jay Gruden “won’t be here next year,” and said he couldn’t even bring himself to utter Jim Haslett’s name. A few hours later, lifelong Washingtonian David Aldridge weighed in on the same station, after Tony Kornheiser had declared the situation was “hopeless.”
“Look, this is all on Dan Snyder now,” Aldridge responded. “Dan Snyder’s got to decide if he wants to win or not, if he wants to once again make this a proud organization. It’s on him. It’s on nobody else. If he likes what he’s seeing, if he likes what the last five years have been, then by all means, bring everybody back. But if you want to have a real organization that has a chance to win, you’ve got to back up the truck, and get rid of everybody, and start over.”
In the meantime, there are fans like Keith Zukowski, a 39-year old from Arlington. Four years ago, he went to the so-called Monday Night Massacre, a 59-28 stomping against the Eagles. He pledged to take a long break from the Redskins, and didn’t return to FedEx Field until last year’s home game against the Chiefs, a 45-10 demolition in the snow. He took another break, then tried his luck on Sunday, when he bought front-row “Dream Seats” for $55.
And so Zukowski’s last three Redskins games have been three of the most abysmal in modern franchise history.
“The three worst games of any sporting events I’ve ever gone to,” said Zukowski, who attends dozens of pro games a year. “It’s just getting hard. It’s one thing if the team was bad, but when you pile on everything that’s going on, the whole package together….It’s just not a very well put-together product anymore.”
Heck, I couldn’t avoid the angst even when I went for a cholesterol test. My doctor, Moody Mustafa, has been to all six home games this year, plus the road game in San Francisco, and he doesn’t leave early. But Sunday, he invoked his newly created “Giants Rule” — if the Redskins are down by at least 24 in the fourth quarter, he’ll leave.
“It was obvious we weren’t going to score, ever,” Mustafa told me, while I was supposed to be getting blood drawn. “At some point, you can’t take the torture anymore.”
Of course, not everyone is slogging through this swamp of misery; not everyone is consumed by the muck of shame and the tendrils of doubt. Like the @RedskinsFacts Twitter account, created by the team to defend its stance on the Redskins name.
“It’s Game Day @Redskins fans!” that account tweeted on Sunday. “Get on your Burgundy and Gold!”
Not a bad thought on a Sunday morning. But for some reason or other, that tweet wasn’t published until 9:35 p.m., more than five hours after the team’s latest dreadful loss.