The New “America’s Team”- For One Night Anyway
Back in 1979 when the Dallas Cowboys annoyingly anointed themselves “America’s Team”- at least they were good. They won Super Bowls in 1972 and 1978 and made appearances in title games in 1971, 1976, and 1979.
Then they almost made it four Super Bowls in a row in the 1990’s, winning it all in 1993, 1994 and 1996. Since then, however, it’s been 16 years without a Super Bowl appearance. In fact, they only have one playoff win at all in those last 16 years. They may call themselves “America’s Team,” but no one else in America does.
A non-scientific ESPN internet poll proves it emphatically. At last check, 73% of Americans (or at least 200,000 people with an internet connection whom we presume to be mostly Americans), are rooting for the Washington Redskins this Sunday night when they host the former “America’s Team “ in a battle for the NFC East title. Winner goes to the playoffs, loser goes to the showers and then to a golf course in a moderate climate somewhere.
State-by-state, the ESPN poll shows 49 of them are rooting for the Redskins and one is backing the Cowboys. And Texas is not really a state- it’s a Republic plus they’ve engaged in a lot of secessionist talk over recent years.
Powered by three engaging rookies, quarterback, RGIII, running back, Alfred Morris and Kicker, Kai Forbath, these Washington Redskins are a quite loveable group and surprising, to boot. CBS Sports.com prognosticator, Pete Prisco, predicted they’d finish the year 3-13. Looked good there for ol’ Prisco when the Skins went into their bye week with a 3-6 record.
But something magical happened in that off week. Coming off a humiliating home loss to the Carolina Panthers and with head coach, Mike Shanahan publicly stating the players were now playing for next year- RGIII would have none of it. He reportedly gave a Knut Rockne-type speech that would have made Rockne himself proud. It was so inspiring, in fact, that his teammates immediately voted to make Robert one of their captains.
Now here it is six straight victories later. The Skins have even been victorious in one game without RGIII (thank you Kirk Cousins and Mike Shanahan). Last week, they proved they could win with RGIII’s arm and without his legs.
The previously porous defense now comes up big whenever it seems absolutely necessary.
The most humble kid in the universe who has a 20 year-old car and still sleeps on is parent’s couch when he’s visiting his old home is named Alfred Morris and the young rookie is just 104 yards away from setting the all-time Redskins single season record for rushing.
And Kai Forbath, a former UCLA kicker, who could not hook up with another NFL team gets picked up in the middle of the season and responds by going to the Hall of Fame. Or at least the ball did- the one that marked his 17th consecutive field goal without a miss- the best career start for any kicker in NFL history.
So what’s not to love about the new America’s Team? Even if they lose, these Skins have given their fans more than anyone could have hoped. But I don’t think they’ll lose.
This feels, for all the world, like a Redskins-Cowboys matchup at old RFK stadium 40 years ago- a game the Redskins won 26-3 before going off to face the undefeated Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VII (back when you could still tell what the Roman numerals stood for).
That game was for the NFC championship- but this one- after a mostly sorrowful 20 years in the wilderness for Redskins fans- seems every bit as big. Americans- we thank you for your support.