Washington Redskins Fans Remain The Victims Of Hope And Change

It was another miserable week to be a Redskins fan. Not only did the team suffer a humiliating loss to a division rival, but it appears like it has locked itself into another long stretch of mediocrity. Is there any chance for improvement?

Chad Dukes -- a radio personality who functions as the non-athlete foil to former Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington on what is generally an excruciating sports talk show broadcast in the D.C area -- this week in the wake of the 59-28 Eagles de-pantsing of the Redskins let loose the kind of histrionic 12-minute rant that talk radio was invented for. He actually asks for reparations at one point. Give it a listen. You'll never lack for spleen again.

Obviously, there was more inspiring this scream session than one incredibly humiliating loss to a division opponent on Monday Night Football. For Dukes and probably tens of thousands of other 'Skins fans with similar sentiments, the loss was more a signal that the latest of the many tacks Dan Snyder has tried to take the franchise in pursuit of a championship will end in failure. And unlike the Jim Zorn era, which was at least mercifully short, the contract extension handed out to Donovan McNabb suggests this latest epoch in Redskins history will be a protracted misery.

The overriding theme of Dukes' tirade was that the Redskins owe their loyal fan base money or effort or just something for years of emotional support unrewarded with success. This is silly. The Redskins dearth of championships, playoff appearances and winning seasons since 1991 isn't the result of a calculated cruel refusal to deny their supporters. It's mostly just incompetence. If Redskins fans wanted to feel betrayed, they were better off doing it during the brouhaha last year over Snyder suing season ticket holders and banning critical signs from FedEx Field.

Longstanding miserable teams like the Lions, Browns and Bills aren't going to finish this season anywhere near playoff contention, but each of them is playing well enough lately that, even when they lose, there's a sense of encouragement that things have finally started to turn around. In a way, this is its own kind of torture, as more likely than not it's a set-up for dashed expectations somewhere down the line. Detroit, Cleveland and Buffalo might be showing the first signs of teams on the ascent, or they could just be playing with the kind of abandon that bad teams often do in the second half of the season when the pressure of succeeding has long since gone away.

And while it's hard to sympathize with fans of a team with three Super Bowl titles over those who pull for franchises with none, expectations change the agony of losing quite a bit. While most Redskins fans over the years slowly made themselves immune to the hype surrounding the annual acquisition of some high-priced, over-the-hill free agent, there's still always been the sense within the fan base that things were going to work out at some point. For all his personal failings, Dan Snyder cares passionately about winning and is willing to spend exorbitantly to do it, which is more than you can say for the Mike Browns of the world. Eventually, you would think, even a misguided person with that kind of resources who strike paydirt at some point. However, as time goes on, it seems more and more likely that it might not ever work out for Snyder.

The reemergence of the Raiders might be the only encouraging story left for 'Skins fans at this point. In Oakland, a team is showing signs of life in defiance of a toxic owner (albeit one with success in his distant past) who might be Snyder's chief rival in terms of making poor personnel decisions in recent years. Yeah, you could argue "even a blind squirrel occasionally finds a nut." And you'd be correct in your cynicism. It's not much, but that's about all the hope there is left. As we've established, hope's bastard child is disappointment and 'Skins fans have endured plenty. But somehow it's still always better than hollow resignation. So remain hopeful, 'Skins fans. One day, your team too will haphazardly do right once again, just like in Oakland.

And because I'm nice, I won't bother to remind you who the starting quarterback is there.

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