“Look how empty the parking lot is,” Tyskowski said of that tailgating photo, which was taken before Washington’s “Monday Night Football” loss to the Bears in September. “I’ve heard from about five or six of those guys that they’re not coming back next year, either. There’s probably 20 other people that we tailgate with regularly, but the group keeps getting smaller and smaller.”
Tyskowski has been attending Redskins games for as long as he can remember. His father bought a pair of season tickets around 1970 and took turns taking him and his two brothers to games at RFK Stadium. Tyskowski was a freshman in high school during the Redskins’ 1991 Super Bowl season, which he recalled as “one giant highlight.” When FedEx Field opened in 1997, the Tyskowskis kept their two seats. They were placed in Section 109 in the west end zone, a similar location to where they had sat at RFK, and were surrounded by many of the familiar faces and fellow season ticket holders they had come to consider part of their extended football family.
Tyskowski’s father stopped going to games in the early ’90s and died 10 years ago. Tyskowski took control of the tickets when his brothers moved out of the area, and he bought two additional seats one row behind his original two seats about eight years ago.
Despite the Redskins having only six winning seasons since owner Daniel Snyder bought the team in 1999, Tyskowski never considered giving up his tickets until last year.
“We still had fun at the games, even though we weren’t winning many of them,” he said. “We kind of accepted losing, but it seemed at times that the team was still trying. Now it’s complete rock bottom.”
After Washington opened the 2018 season with a win at Arizona, the announced crowd at FedEx Field for the home opener against Indianapolis was 57,013, and a good portion of that was Colts fans. The year ended with a depressing shutout loss to Philadelphia before a predominantly pro-Eagles crowd. Tyskowski left at halftime, avoiding the chants of E-A-G-L-E-S that filled the concourse afterward.
This season has featured more of the same. Tyskowski, who hasn’t missed a game in several years, said he’s never seen FedEx Field as overrun with fans of the opposing team as when the Patriots visited in early October.
“It was ridiculous,” Tyskowski said, using the same adjective that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady did to describe the scene. “ … This season I kind of feel foolish going to the games I’ve gone to. I went to that San Francisco game in that torrential downpour. I just don’t think I can do that any more.”
Earlier this year, Tyskowski resolved to give up his two extra seats, which he typically sold before it became nearly impossible to give them away. After a miserable experience at Sunday’s game, he’s leaning toward canceling his original seats, too. During the Redskins’ 34-17 loss to the Jets, a friend pulled up StubHub and showed him that the empty seat next to him was available for $9.
“It’s just a punch in the gut,” Tyskowski said.
Then there was the heckling from Jets fans.
“These people haven’t won anything since 1969 and they’re laughing in my face,” Tyskowski said. “And they kick our butts all over the field. It’s just not fun anymore."
For Tyskowski, the worst part of Washington’s ninth consecutive home loss was learning that the two longtime season ticket holders he first met as a 6-year-old at RFK and who sit directly behind him at FedEx Field weren’t planning to renew.
“That just really hit home for me,” he said. “It hit me that this is ending. It’s really sad. It’s something that I cherished as a child. It’s no longer fun.”
Tyskowski, who lives in Arlington, has 10- and 14-year-old sons of his own, and while he always figured he’d pass the tickets on to them one day, they’d much rather go watch D.C.’s more successful hockey and baseball teams.
“I’ve taught them to be hardcore home team fans, and they are Redskins fans, but they’ve been picked on at school because of it,” he said. “All of their friends are Capitals and Nationals fans, but there are very few kids who are Redskins fans.”
When Tyskowski made some of his frustrations known to his season ticket representative this season, he said, he received a standard response email highlighting the benefits of being a Redskins Gold member.
Warrick, who is part of Tyskowski’s regular tailgating group, said those benefits are more like “fool’s gold.” He doesn’t plan to keep his tickets in Section 110 unless the Redskins fire team president Bruce Allen.
“I have zero hope in anything changing for the better as long as Bruce Allen is here,” he said. “I don’t see how I can invest. It’s just too much.”
Tyskowski also said he might reconsider giving up his season tickets if the Redskins fire Allen, but he’s not sure that will change anything as long as Snyder remains the owner.
“We went through this for 10 years with Vinny Cerrato,” he said. “Now it’s Bruce Allen. Who’s the next guy going to be? [Snyder] really has to convince me that he’s hiring a football guy to fix the football team.”
Tyskowski plans to be in his usual seats for Sunday’s fan appreciation game. But he might not bother attending Washington’s final two games against the division rival Eagles and Giants.
“The way the Eagles fans took over FedEx Field last year, I can’t go through that again,” he said. “I’ll give it [Sunday], but that might be it.”
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