Gagliardi ordered a couple of blank burgundy flags online last week after he and his father made plans to attend Saturday’s DC Defenders game with a family friend. He then used gold duct tape to create two different messages: “HTTD,” a riff on the familiar abbreviation for “Hail to the Redskins,” and “Sell the Team Dan,” a familiar plea for Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to, well, sell the team. Gagliardi purposely bought tickets in the first row of the second level so he would have a railing on which to hang his handiwork, which, he said, was a hit with fans — and ushers — in his section.
“I think D.C. has had such great success in other sports, and the Redskins are kind of this black mark now,” Gagliardi said in a phone interview. “I think a lot of that is due to Daniel Snyder. I grew up a die-hard Redskins fan, and my dad and I had season tickets for over 15 years that we canceled before last season. It’s not enjoyable to go to the games. I’ll be a die-hard Redskins fan for life, but I stopped watching football last year two games into the season.”
Gagliardi, who was born on the same day Joe Gibbs retired as Redskins head coach for the first time in 1993, was so “checked out of football” over the past year that the XFL’s reboot caught him by surprise. He was pleasantly surprised by the crowd at the league’s debut.
“It was really cool to see that many D.C. sports fans come together and support a brand new team,” Gagliardi said of the 17,163 who witnessed the Defenders’ 31-19 win over the Seattle Dragons. “There’s definitely some room for improvement. The concession lines were absolutely insane, and it seemed like they were not expecting nearly the turnout that showed up, but other than that, it was a lot of fun. It was good football; it was fast-paced. The fans were into it, and it was nice being in a stadium where everyone was cheering for the same team. … I hope one day that maybe the Redskins can return to this."
While making his way to his seat Saturday, Gagliardi came across Shane McMahon, the son of XFL founder and WWE CEO Vince McMahon. They shook hands and posed for a photo. Gagliardi posted the photo on the Redskins’ subreddit, where at least one fan wondered whether Snyder didn’t deserve some credit for the changes he has made in recent months, including firing team president Bruce Allen and hiring Ron Rivera as coach.
“I was like, ‘Yeah, well, we’ve made a lot of good changes for 20 years with absolutely nothing to show for it,’ ” Gagliardi said. “Those who have been around through Vinny [Cerrato], through Bruce, realize that there’s only one constant among 20 years of mediocrity.”
In the meantime, it’s HTTD. Gagliardi said he will be back for a future Defenders home game. His dad is even talking about getting season tickets.
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