join the bandwagon

(photo by Brian Murphy)

With the Washington Redskins in between trips to Dallas and Philadelphia to take on divisional opponents, the timing seemed right to ask a simple question – what do the players think of rivalries against teams like the Cowboys and the Eagles? We know how much these games mean to fans, but do the players actually care? Do they look at this game any different than a matchup with the Houston Texans or Seattle Seahawks?

“Oh yeah,” said safety LaRon Landry. “As soon as I got here I was introduced to this rivalry and all the hatred towards these guys. I just joined the bandwagon.”

Really? It happens that fast? As soon as you show up, someone like Redskins trainer for life Bubba Tyer sits the players down and brainwashes them into hating Dallas and Philadelphia? I went to track down one of the rookies to see if they’ve been educated on these historic rivalries yet.

“I think for the guys who have been here for a long time, they understand what it is,” said safety Chris “The Predator” Horton of the rivalry. “I’m new, so I’m just now getting into it. But I understand what a rivalry game is, playing USC every year. It’s starting to grow on me. I just know we’ve got to play real physical, because it’s going to be a physical game.”

Pretty much all of the players I talked to agreed that the fans are what make this rivalry so meaningful.

“This is huge for the fans,” said tackle Jon Jansen, the longest tenured Redskins player. “This is the game that everyone talks about for the entire year.”

Seriously? A full calendar year is at stake when hated division rivals do battle? How do you not let it affect you when you’re on the field?

“You know, obviously the fans remind you of the rivalry,” said center Casey Rabach. “It’s always in the back of your head. But you’ve got to approach this game as just another game. You can’t get wrapped up into all of the history and stuff. You’ve got to just go out and play your game.”

Since he set himself up for it, I followed up with a question asking what the heck happened during the Cowboys game, when Rabach was called for two penalties that negated Redskins touchdowns.

“On the first one they called me for, I don’t know what they saw or what they called,” he said. “Zack [Thomas] said he tripped when I talked to him about it afterwards, but they called it. The second one, I think they called me for being downfield. I was just trying to be aggressive and finish a block, and it happened.”

Since the ‘Skins were still victorious, I didn’t feel the need to kick Rabach anymore. Why be a downer when the rest of the locker room was enjoying a hard-fought win over a quality opponent?

“It’s great,” said defensive end Andre Carter. “This experience, by far, is big for the Redskins organization and for myself. Out of all the times I’ve played Dallas, I’ve never won a game in Dallas. With this being the last game for us here in this arena, it’s just something special.

“You try not to think of it as a rivalry,” Carter continued. “But at the end of the day, when you see the Dallas and Redskins fans, you see a little bit of tension. At the end of the day, there is a rivalry.”

And what did Carter say to the Cowboy fans sitting behind the Redskins bench just moments before the ‘Skins had won Sunday?

( Laughs). “You guys wanna be Redskins fans,” Carter asked the dejected Dallas faithful as the final seconds ticked away and the Redskins were victorious for the fifth time in the last seven meetings.

I guess the players get into the rivalry a little bit more than they’re letting on. Here’s hoping Carter and friends are able to recruit a few new ‘Skins fan this weekend in Philadelphia after another win.

1 comment

  1. hcoregoskins
    October 5, 2008 at 10:04 am

    Ok so always like i’ve been doing about this time. First of JZ what can I say I liked the pick from day one and knew ya had it in ya! I love what you’ve done with the talent on this team and how you have it gel’n like Dr Scholl’s at the moment! Fabulous job coach! And I especially what you have done with the young QB who would have become a symbol of anarchy had you not arrived when you did. Takes a QB teach field vision properly and the patience is showing. And JC what can I say I was calling for ya head after week 1 bro and I can honestly say I was starting to worry! I always knew you had it in ya but I was wondering if your window was going to close through no fault of your own due to stability issues. But you are pulling threw it week in and week out like the leader you are now proving to be! and all I can say is keep up the good work and let’s start turning those 3’s into 6’s let’s keep moving the ball like wave been doing! I mean can a brother get a naked bootleg every once in a while? I love the running game right now Clinto0n is on point! I just still feel like Cooly could be doing more in this offense along with Fred Davis and Devin Thomas on some deep and intermediate stuff I mean I don’t know what the kid shows in practice but from what I can tell he is a gamer and should be playing a bigger role not 8 catches or anything like that but 7-8 balls should be go in his direction a game and I’m sure it would open up some other stuff for Santana and randle el downfield if Devin can become more of a threat in the offense. I mean the style of football we play once we start converging third downs it’s over because we slow the game up so much and play keep away very well. So overall here are my keys to this matchup with eagles. First of we cannot settle for more than 2 or 3 field goals in this game! We need four to five touchdowns to win this even if they don’t score two we need to be powerful and convincing in this victory. We should be taking seriously in this division and the NFL! I am sick of seeing the likes of Tony Romo Eli Manning Marion Barber when I should be seeing Jason Campbell and Clinton Portis on sports center every night! We need to pressure that O-line to have another big day so that we can get Clinton over 150 yards! How about that! We get there and we run away with the game if we can generate 450 yards or more of total offense we are in the hat. Now on the other side of the ball my man Carlos Rodgers it’s probably going to be your duty to cover and be the shadow to Desean Jacksons Perter Pan! we shut him down we shut them down vertically and if we shut down the injured westbroke then all tats left is Donovan and if he can’t throw to nobody and if nobody can run then what does that equal? A REDSKINS W!

    Hail to the Redskins!

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