Amid plummeting ticket prices, online expressions of dissatisfaction and predictions that FedEx Field’s crowd might be less than robust on Sunday afternoon, one Redskins official stepped up to offer an alternative viewpoint.
Voice of the Redskins Larry Michael — the team’s chief content officer and senior vice president — said in an interview on ESPN 980 that “everybody can have their opinion” in this social-media era, but that the situation might not be as dire as some would suggest.
“The silent majority of the Redskins fans like going to the games,” Michael said. “Really, it’s a big majority. They love tailgating. I’ve had all these tailgate invitations since the last Thanksgiving game. I’ve got all these friends now that want to feed me before a game. And I’ll be willing to bet that place is gonna be packed [on Sunday], and it’s gonna be rockin’. And of course, [fans] want to win, and they’re impatient just like we are. So I think the fans will show up, and the team’s gotta give them something to cheer about.”
Much of this is noncontroversial, and if the team plays well on Sunday, fans will cheer, and loudly. But it would appear that many observers are willing to take the other side of this hypothetical wager, even with “packed” being a subjective word. It’s hard to imagine Sunday’s game won’t be the least attended of this season: It’s cold, and it’s the holiday season, and the Redskins have been eliminated from the playoffs, and the Cardinals don’t have a large local fan base, and the Redskins are coming off one of their worst TV ratings of the century. So while the team’s play could make things rockin’, the fans might not come a-knockin’.
The Redskins discussion this week has turned to the offseason, which seems certain to bring at least a few changes to the team, if not a complete reshuffling. But Michael also urged Redskins followers to stay focused on this week’s game, and to save the offseason for the offseason.
“If you can get a win this week, everybody’s going to feel a lot better,” he said. “And it’s a home game; that’s going to make everybody feel a lot better. And you still have hopes of finishing the season at .500. And after the season’s over … why are we talking about a month down the road? We’ve got three games to go yet here. So whatever’s going to happen in the future, we can talk about that when the present is over.”
The problem, of course, is that the present is never over, because today’s tomorrow is tomorrow’s present, and tomorrow’s present is the next day’s yesterday, and so long as we’re focused neither on the past nor the never-reachable future but only this current present, we’re paralyzed to the point that our only sensible course of action is to bury our heads in a giant bucket of Johnny Rockets fries. But let’s not think about all that until the present’s over.
Michael further argued that this game means an awful lot to the players on the fringes of this roster, and again, he’s not wrong about that, even if I might poke fun because of the utter darkness of my heart. Careers and pride are on the line, and as of a month ago, I was fully on board with this Redskins season, and was amazed how hard they played and how competitive were their results considering the slew of major injuries, and I would never have guessed in the recent past that the near future would become an unhappy present reminiscent of the more distant past and darkened by an uncertain future etc. etc.
“You don’t think No. 56, Zach Vigil, wants to play great? You don’t think he wants to play great?” Michael asked of the young middle linebacker. “I’ll give you another guy: Tony Bergstrom, the center. Kind of overlooked, okay? Last time I looked, Spencer [Long’s] hurt, Tony Bergstrom’s playing to continue playing in the National Football League, and that’s a pretty big salary. I would think any one of you guys would take that salary. The minimum, you’d take it, in a heartbeat. So this is what it’s about. …
“It’s not like they’ve thrown up their hands and said we’re done,” Michael said later. “A lot of pride on the line here, and there’s jobs on the line. So you add those two things together, and if they get a good workweek in … I would be shocked if they didn’t play well at home.”
At least some people have suggested that the future might look a lot different if they don’t play well at home on Sunday. Here, for example, was Santana Moss, talking this week to Andy Pollin and Thom Loverro on 106.7 The Fan.
“If you don’t go out there and really put on for your team, for your organization, for this city, and show them that you’re not just some chump that’s gonna lay down and say, ‘Oh well, this season’s over with,’ then this whole thing’s gonna blow up,” Moss said.
“This game is, to me, the most important game of them all: this Sunday,” Moss said. “This Sunday against the Cardinals, the most important game of their season, because this thing can really go crazy. I’ve been around there when it went ape crap, and I say ‘ape crap’ because I want to say something else. But I’m telling you, I’ve been around when things just blew up, and it blew up because of one or two games.
“You could have just [held] on a little bit and gave that owner and gave that GM a little confidence in what [they] saw,” Moss said. “But if you don’t, it’s gonna blow up in everyone’s face. So I think these guys got to go out there with a little more pride than they’ve been showing these last few weeks and really play for their jobs and for the season. I mean, we understand that, hey, there’s no postseason, but you still can be .500, if you really want it.”
On the other hand, we could wait to talk about any explosions until the present is over.
More on the Redskins: