You can go for years without something having much meaning whatsoever. It's something that doesn't blip on your radar and doesn't sway you or move you in any way; meaningless, and less than empty, it just hangs in the periphery.
Such is the case with me and the Washington Redskins, really.
So many years living in what could be –depending on your socioeconomic bracket, really– either 49er country or Raider country, I never really gave much thought to east coast teams (let alone, the Redskins). I became slightly partial to the Raiders, mostly because my students seemed to like them and because it seemed to be a kind of underdog rebellion of sorts. If being San Francisco was the cool thing to do, I was Oakland– the gritty, neglected stepsister to the shining City by the Bay.
But once removed from the area, I wandered aimlessly as far as football dedication was concerned. I discovered that there was an entire universe of college teams to root for, and to be amazed that some such colleges existed (mostly for the football, it seems in some cases). I also discovered something rather bizarre and fascinating: that there are people who root for college teams regardless of actual college affiliation or attendance, but more because it's a thing to do, like deciding that Miller is your beer.
FedEx field, the Redskins' home field, is in an area that is quite pretty and mostly woodsy. It gently abuts the inner loop of the Capitol Beltway in Landover (for those of you who are not from the area, that's in Maryland) and since it's situated in a hilly area, you can have some nice views of the area, especially as you drive away from it toward Washington.
Usually, we drive away from FedEx field after playing at the nearby Prince George's Sportsplex with Herr Meow, and as we make our way back during this time of year, we know we're in Redskins country because of the large number of bedecked, beribboned, festooned and magnetized cars that bear (YAY TOUCHDOWN!!!) the proud indian's face and headdress and the burgundy, white and gold.
Tonight the 'Skins are playing at home in front of ninety thousand screaming fans a few miles away from us in Landover. We're watching the game, and we've been witness to the excitement they cause throughout the afternoon; babies and cute little doggies festooned to match the cars, and bars putting out special menus to anticipate the influx of fans who will be showing up later in the afternoon to send what Dave Barry sagely called "concern rays" at the tvs –each believing that their concentration alone can make this outcome a good one for their team.
And here we are, California transplants, watching the Redskins. Watching as the GoodYear blimp pans away from the lovely, lit-up bowl sitting at the top of the hill in Landover, and watching as our adopted city cheers on their favorite sons, adopted or not; and watching as NBC highlights the beauty of this city which by now feels more like our own. Monsieur Meow says he's rooting for the 'Skins to lose, but I know that's just a clever ruse to disguise the fact that he has been following the Redskins this year more than he's followed his 'Niners in the past five years.
It's funny how suddenly the Redskins mean not just something, but Something.