Friday, September 14, 2007

Hail to the Redskins

I wrote this a couple of years ago for a writing/journalism class I took. In honor of the start of another football season, here's my ode to the Redskins:

Hail to the Redskins! Hail victory!

Braves on the warpath, fight for old DC!

Run or pass and score – we want a lot more!

Beat ‘em, swamp ‘em – Touchdown! Let the points soar!

Fight on, fight on, till you have won, sons of Washington!

Rah, rah, rah!

I sang this song recently at a Redskins game. It was one of those rare occasions - well, rare in recent years anyway - where the fans got to sing it A LOT. My brother and I were there, standing side by side, clapping along and singing with the band. What a game! Every time the Redskins scored we gladly got on our feet and sang along with the band.

For as long as I live, I will NEVER forget the words to “Hail to the Redskins.” It is forever etched in the far corners of my brain. It is one of those songs that just pops into your head and sticks around for hours at a time. You know what kind of song I mean. Over and over it plays in my head when I least want it to. But I have to admit that hearing the first few notes of the song always makes me smile.

Even so, it's more than just a song to me. It's more than what you get to sing when the 'Skins score a touchdown. It’s my childhood. It’s my teenage years. It’s lots of good memories that come flooding back each time I hear the song. It’s family.

It's Sundays as a kid, keeping my Dad updated on the score. Whenever he’d have to work on a Sunday, he would call home and get the "official report" from me. Of course, I now know he was watching the game the whole time. When he came home from work it also meant one kiss on the cheek for each touchdown they scored that day. For a true “Daddy's Girl,” it meant the world.

It’s Super Bowl Sunday – January 30, 1983. My whole family joined my Dad at work to watch the game. The Redskins beat the Miami Dolphins to become the NFL Champions.

It's my multiplication tables. In second grade I had no problem learning my sevens and my threes. 7, 14, 21, 28... 3, 6, 9, 12… I learned them quickly thanks to the Redskins. Keeping score also polished my addition skills. I loved adding up the points and figuring out the score before it was posted on the screen. The more points, the more challenging the math was for a seven year-old!

It's every Friday morning in Elementary School during football season. My principal, Mrs. Eckler - a die hard fan herself, would play the song as part of the morning announcements. She wanted us to know all the words, so she played it over and over, week after week. We'd get to hear it again on Monday if the 'Skins were victorious over the weekend. I remember that some students and teachers would groan when it came on. Me? I thought it was great fun.

Mrs. Eckler was bound and determined to make us all fans. You know what? It worked for most of us. She also succeeded in bringing several of the players to the school for special assemblies. I still remember the day Mark Moseley came to visit. We made posters for the halls that were a tribute to the “Hogs” and the “Smurfs.” We all dressed in our Redskins gear and sang the fight song to welcome him to our school.

It's RFK stadium on game day. It's the whole crowd singing together, the stands bouncing up and down. I used to want the Redskins to score just so we could sing the fight song and have the stands bounce. Cheap thrills for a kid, I suppose. It’s the crowd chanting in unison, “Rigg-o! Rigg-o! Rigg-o!” in honor of running back John Riggins.

It's that rare occasion when I actually got to go to a game with my Dad. It was bragging to my friends the day after a game, telling them all how lucky I was to get to go. Few of my friends could say they had had the chance to go to a professional football game.

It's the only time I got to ride the Metro. We would drive into Arlington and catch the orange line train from the Virginia Square station. It was fun to be stuck in the big crowd of metro riders waiting to go home after the game. Believe me, after riding the train to work on a daily basis, I've since gotten over that thrill...

It's all of us kids getting Redskins t-shirts for Christmas, just to annoy my Aunt. Somehow she - my Dad's sister - wound up a Dallas Cowboys fan, even though she’s lived in Virginia her whole life. How does that work? All three of us would wear the shirts when we saw her at the family Christmas party. We’d love to get her going about the rivalry.

For her birthday we’d give her something emblazoned with the Redskins logo. A hat, a t-shirt, an ugly wreath – it didn’t matter as long as it had something to do with the Redskins. The more it bashed the Cowboys, the better.

It's years of teasing and tormenting and trash talking among friends and relatives, from elementary school, to college, to today. I even trash talked Mr. Cannon, my sixth grade teacher because of the 'Skins / Cowboys rivalry. After the Redskins beat the Cowboys that year, I brought a little stuffed Redskin to school. It sat quietly on the corner of my desk as a daily reminder of our victory. Lest we forget, I was only 12 years old at the time!

It’s the poster I got from my Grandfather for Christmas celebrating the Skins Super Bowl victory in 1988, when quarterback Doug Williams was the MVP. It’s the junior high school years when it hung on my closet door. It’s seeing former Redskin player Gary Clark at the airport in Phoenix on our flight headed home to Virginia. It’s getting him to sign the only thing I had at the time – a baseball cap with the Tasmanian Devil on the front.

It's extra credit in Biology class. When I was in tenth grade the Redskins won the Super Bowl. We all got extra credit that year - just because the 'Skins won. The successes of the team during the season gave us the occasional extra point on an assignment. But when the Redskins won the Super Bowl? The extra credit flowed. It was a priceless treasure to a bunch of sixteen-year olds.

Now let’s fast forward to today. It’s all those things all over again. It’s attending the last Redskins game at RFK stadium with one of my best friends from college. It’s the Redskins flag that flies at my parents’ house on a game day. It’s the flag that flew the day Dan Snyder announced he’d hired Joe Gibbs to once again be the coach of the Redskins. It’s decorating a co-worker’s office in Redskins paraphernalia before the big Redskins/Cowboys game. It’s humming the Redskins fight song anytime a different co-worker is nearby. It’s a new rivalry with my brother-in-law who is a New York Giants fan. It’s the Redskins collar my sister bought for their dog to liven the rivalry.

Now we’re back at the game. The Redskins just scored. Once again the band begins to play “Hail to the Redskins.” I can't help but think of my childhood and teenage years. I hope that the little boy sitting next to me is soaking it all up. I hope that twenty years from now he will hear the fight song and remember the time his Dad took him to a Redskins game. I hope he’ll remember those two crazy ‘Skins fans who were sitting next to him, making fools out of themselves, and loving every minute of it.

1 comment:

Shannon said...

You know, I'm kind of sad that I wasn't in any of those Redskins shirt pictures...There's really only one of me that I can recall. Maybe we should take one?