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Cheap Seats: ‘Tis the season

‘Tis the season for family and friends, Santa Claus and Christmas wishes. For many others, it is the time for running up credit card bills for presents that will occupy a landfill near you by springtime. It also means spending time with people that you don’t see all year (by choice in many cases) and going to parties seemingly every night, all the while asking your wife who will be there in hopes that you will have someone there to talk sports or in the case of some parties, someone to do shots with. But for me, this is the best season of all and it starts December 14th and lasts 21 days. Of course, I am talking about the college football bowl season. A wonderful time of the year that doesn’t carry the threat of lame ties or itchy sweaters but instead gives you the gift of 28 games in 21 days. Now, THAT is how you get through the holiday season (the beer helps too).

I have always loved the college football bowl season and despite the many outcries that the number of bowls (28) has reached the point of absurdity, I continue to look forward to the plethora of pigskin each year. I have to scratch my head in confusion when I hear the sports talking heads complain about the addition of new bowls or the bowl schedule in general. Sure, I admit that 28 game is a lot of bowls but why the need to complain? Is someone forcing you to watch the games? No. If you don’t like the match-up, don’t watch it. For some of us, we enjoy seeing teams that we wouldn’t normally get to see facing teams that they normally wouldn’t face. Are some of the games boring? Sure. But so are many of the regular season games that are played but I don’t hear those same talking heads complaining about that. Listen, not every bowl can host the National Championship game but to those kids playing in their respective bowl, it is every bit as important and usually every bit entertaining, if not more.

What the NCAA needs to do to add legitimacy to their Bowl Championship Series (BCS) is to incorporate the playoff system they current use in all divisions other than Division I. Now, I ask you this, which is more of a problem; too many bowl games or the NCAA failing to use their same proven playoff system at the highest level? Not having a playoff system to determine the National Champion has long been debated and will continue to be debated until common sense finds its way to the NCAA. With Division I football being the only major sport without a playoff system makes the BCS more BS as it does little more than add confusion to an already frustratingly difficult matter. I would go so far as to say that until the NCAA brings the playoff system to their highest division, the legitimacy of the National Champion not only could be, but should be questioned.

There are currently 118 Division I college football teams in the nation. Of that number, 56 teams will play in a bowl game. Of the 118 teams, how many of those teams start the year with a legitimate shot at playing in the National title game? Of that handful of teams, their dream comes to an end when the drop their first game. That leaves the sprinkling of undefeated teams to jostle for the top spot only to have a computer and/or coaches (that don’t watch many of the teams for which they are voting) determine what should be determined between the hash marks. I don’t mean to devalue the meaning of an undefeated season but in an era in which a team can load up its schedule with inferior teams and then benefit from playing in a weak conference, going undefeated shouldn’t be a prerequisite for the National title. It would, however, guarantee the team a high seeding in the National Championship tournament that would be played using the current bowl system. Hey, ’tis the season for Christmas wishes, right?

Those of you who share my love for the college bowl season, I will offer you my personal challenge that I set each season; that challenge is to watch at least 1 quarter of every bowl game. Last season, I missed five, but I have been training hard during the regular season and have not only mastered the picture in picture function of my television but also added an XM Radio to the arsenal. I feel very optimistic this season and am confident that I could go perfect for the season. It will be tough, this I know. But nothing worth having comes easy, right?

Stay tuned for my College Bowl Season preview package, which will provide insight to every game, the key players, my thoughts on the match up as well as television listings and all the information you will need to arm yourself for the greatest time of the year.


Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Les Barnhart

Categories Posted In Archive: The Cheap Seats

Cheap Seats: The Right to Remain Silent

In light of the recent on (and off) field altercations the subject of fans interaction with players has come under the microscope but perhaps at this point, it is like the farmer who shuts the barn door after the horse gets out. The sports world has grown from a subculture to a culture all of its own. With the help of the likes of ESPN and the ever growing coverage of sports of every kind, it is a great time to be a sports fan.

The majority of sports fans will watch far more sporting events on television than they will in person. There are several factors for this, with the cost of attending major sports being near the top of the list. Another factor is that in the confines of your own home (or bar) you have the advantage of instant replay, no lines in the bathroom, and no worries about the weather and no need to fight traffic before or after the game. Add to that list that at home you don’t need to worry about being involved in a beat down with a player or another fan. You also don’t need to subject yourself or family to those around you at the game who feel the need to shout insults, swears, racial slurs and personal attacks at a player that is drawing that abuse only because of the team he plays for or simply because he is playing the game.

Very few people can honestly say that they have attended more than a few events at any level where they haven’t heard a fan or fans verbally attack a player during the game. While fans have heckled players for as long as sports have been played, there has always been a level of gamesmanship that was expected from the fans as well as the player. That aspect of sports is a game within a game. I have been able see this relationship from both on the field as well as from the stands. I have heard boos and less than flattering comments directed at me and I have heard the cheers and adoration. As easy as it was to soak in the cheers it was equally difficult to hear the jeering but as an athlete, it is all part of the game. As a fan of the many sports that I follow, I have something that is lacking in a great number of my fellow fans. That is respect. Respect for the players that play in their sport at a level that so many of us only dream about. I also have respect for the game. This respect comes from not only having been an athlete but also from having a love for the game, whatever it may be. While it may be strange to some, I hold sports very close. They hold a place in my life much like a family member would. So, despite knowing that many others don’t have the same view of sports, it bothers me to see both the fans and the players disrespect a game that in the grand scheme of things, they comprise such a small part.

Many fans feel that they have the right to shout, scream, ridicule, belittle or denigrate the athletes simply because by their paying for the ticket to the game, they have paid the players salary. That simply is not a fair statement. If it were true, then why not call out the beer vendor or the guy selling the foam fingers that just took $18 off of you? That money goes to pay the players salaries as well doesn’t it? Or better yet, see what happens when you go into a public office and call out a worker of your choice because “your tax money pays their salary”. Again, same principle, right? Seems pretty silly to that. As silly as it to adhere to the belief that buying a ticket to a game entitles you to act in such a manner that would warrant criminal charges being filed if you were to say them outside of the sports arena.

Buying a ticket entitles you to watch the game and root for the team of the ticket holder’s choice. It entitles someone to take their kids to a game and not have to worry about their getting through the game safely or having to listen to language that isn’t fit for public. It entitles you to cheer loudly for your team or to boo and hiss the opposition in a way that wouldn’t garner an “R” or in some cases, an ‘X” rating. If being in the stands and watching a game isn’t justification enough for the price of the ticket that you paid, don’t buy it. Don’t feed into the thought process that the player’s salaries are pushing up ticket prices and thus taking many of out of the stands. Keep you money in your pocket and if you want to see sports being played without the cloud of out of control salaries having over the field, take in a high school game. You will spend far less money and what you do spend will go to a good place.

Whatever sport you follow and attend, remember that every ticket gives its holder a right to remain silent, enjoy the game and allow others to do the same. Cheer your head off, clap until your hands go numb and boo if you must (especially if you are at a Cowboys game) but keep it clean, while many of us are still kids at heart, some of us have our kids with us.


Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Les Barnhart

Categories Posted In Archive: The Cheap Seats

Cheap Seats: Football… With or Without the Sex?

Football and sex. These days, the two seem to be more closely linked than beer and wings. The two have always seemed to find themselves in the same bed (yes, pun intended). Sure, you hear stories about the wild lives led by pro athletes in other sports like the ones that former Major League pitcher Rob Dibble spins about his days as a “Nasty Boy” as he now serves as the colorful sidekick on the Dan Patrick Show. You also hear about the NBA and their off-court activities but anymore that seems to deal more with smoking pot and fathering illegitimate children throughout the various NBA cities. But watch a televised non-NFL game and other than the guy who sprouts blue horns because he is all hopped up on fun pills, you normally don’t see the Penthouse-esque type of commercials (the twins) or tightly spandex wrapped cheerleaders bouncing all over the sidelines and spilling into your living room.

Now don’t think that I am an ultraconservative, one that thinks that the cheerleaders should wear parkas or turtlenecks because in their current attire some of those gals would draw looks from a nudist colony. Oh no, I just think that scantily clad people and sexual innuendo has its own place in our society. It isn’t on the sideline of football games and it certainly isn’t on my television during daylight hours when I am watching the game with my family and have to explain not the complexities of the Cover 2 defense but rather why a women would wear something that resembles (in size) the outfit that my daughter has removed from her Barbie doll. I have to admit the whole concept of cheerleaders after the college and in some cases, the high school level, is lost on me. But I know that to some, like my daughter, they are the reason that people come to the games. At the NFL level, they seem to be little more than window dressing and they add to the image that the NFL in some part uses sex to sell their sport and considering the product (football) they have been able to put on the field, it seems unnecessary.

The pregame intro for the Cowboys-Eagles game was truly amazing. Not because of the towel dropping…well, check that, it was amazing because of the towel dropping. It was amazing considering what CBS and the NFL had just gone through following the notorious “wardrobe malfunction”. The FCC had carved them up for something that they seemingly had little control over. But the Monday night intro that was put together by ABC and was much more clear to its viewers than was Janet’s ‘appendage’. The NFL of course admonished ABC for its shameless but clever plug for its very racy hit show, and the FCC claimed no foul had been committed by either entity.

Personally, I didn’t care for it, no matter the time of day or night. As I have stated, when I sit down to watch football I expect to see just that. Not a trailer for The Graduate 2004 starring T.O. or any of the NFL’s bright stars. Similarly, when I sit down to watch NASCAR, I don’t expect to see a football or baseball game break out either. After the intro was over I immediately though about how I would have had to explain it to my kids but thankfully wouldn’t have to since they were tucked away in bed. But those not in the Eastern time zone wouldn’t be so lucky. I just hope that the family wasn’t eating dinner with the game on. That would certainly make for some interesting dinner conversation, eh?

I wish the NFL would just stick to what they know and what the fans want to see when they plop down to watch America’s sport. Just the plain, old fashioned, wholesome entertainment that we all love…football. Leave the sultry stuff to the late night cable channels that are watched by drunk guys in hotel rooms, snickering and making crude jokes.

I will take my beer cold, my wings hot and my football without the sex, thanks.


Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Les Barnhart

Categories Posted In Archive: The Cheap Seats

Cheap Seats: Still a Happy Valley?

The Pennsylvania State University is actually located in University Park, Pennsylvania. It is also commonly known as Happy Valley. Happy Valley? Obviously that name was not obtained by the recent performance of the university’s once crown jewel; the football team. The teams struggles may have reached a level that neither the fans nor the all time winning college football coach have ever witnessed. Recently, in front of a raucous home crowd in Beaver Stadium, the Nittany Lions lost 6-4 to Iowa. That’s right, 6-4. Bad weather? Nah. Just bad offensive football. This loss came after they dropped a close, hard fought game to then undefeated Purdue and humbled their Heisman candidate quarterback. Many of us fans hoped at the end of the Purdue game that this team, so laden with talent, could use that performance to turn the corner and start restoring pride to the program that for so long was the class of the country.

There was a time not long ago when Penn State was a recognized national football power. Only ten short years ago, the Lions won the Rose Bowl after drubbing Oregon to finish the season undefeated only to be shafted in what should have been at least a shared National Championship. Since 1999, the Lions have had only one winning season (2002). How can this happen? How can a team that was at the top of the college football world for as long as Penn State has been fall so ungracefully as to have the potential to go winless in the Big Ten? There are many theories in Happy Valley as to why and most have blame falling at the feet of Coach Joe Paterno. Some attribute the struggles to the normal ebb and flow of the college football world. Others simple say that the game has passed JoePa by. It is hard not to see Paterno as part of the problem for the simple fact that he IS Penn State football and he wouldn’t want it any other way. I also blame Paterno for the losses to teams like Toledo, Boston College and Pittsburgh but perhaps not for the reasons that so many others do. That is just too easy.

Coach Paterno has lead the Nittany Lions against many opponents during his tenure at Penn State. During that time, he agreed to play teams that other schools would pass on because they weren’t viewed as a marquee match up or the smaller school didn’t want to sign a contract that had them playing the role of a Homecoming date that could be drummed in front of the alumni. Paterno used a different approach that perhaps put into motion the current malaise that the program is mired in. Paterno agreed to play schools like Maryland, West Virginia, Boston College, Virginia Tech and before they found their current success, the MAC. Not only would he play them, but in some cases, he would agree to travel to their school in a seemingly rare home and home series. If that wasn’t enough, Paterno would then play the game close to the cuff so as not to embarrass the other program. Here were the big bad Nittany Lions and all their prestige playing these smaller schools and Paterno was allowing them to stay in the game until late in the game when the Lions would then pull ahead for the easy win. Penn State’s opponents not only benefited financially but because Paterno refused to embarrass the other school, that program could turn around and use it against Penn State on the recruiting trail. Think about how it would look to a recruit if he were to see a prospective school who was a huge underdog to a national power like Penn State play close into the fourth quarter in a televised game. Tempting? Well, in a lot of cases, that same recruit was then offered the next detail; if they were to come to the smaller school they would be on television with a chance to beat a team like Penn State. They would also get to play before their junior or senior year. That is a game that Paterno and the Nittany Lions have been losing for years. The recruits they were losing to these teams that Paterno refused to run up the score on like many of the other nationally recognized teams would; have been used to build respectable programs and instead of their name being penciled in for Homecoming, it is Penn State now finding their name being penciled in as the Homecoming date.

It is hard to deny that the Paterno’s approach has helped college football as a whole as he has indirectly helped to build several programs into Division I powers. As a Penn State fan, I wish that more wins would fall our way, but I also see teams like North Carolina beating Miami and I have to smile to myself because college football is a better product in part because of Paterno’s approach to the smaller, less established schools.

While it is difficult to lay all the blame for the Nittany Lions fall from grace at the feet of Coach Paterno, it is equally as difficult to separate it from the coaching icon. It is a shame that a man who has done so much for not only the Penn State University but also the world of college football would have to face the criticism that he has had to endure in the past few years but if Coach Paterno were playing for Coach Paterno, he would be calling him out during his Tuesday press conferences for his lack of performance. Paterno is a victim of his past successes and the fans were spoiled by it. I will leave the continued criticism of his coaching methods and staff to those who are able to focus on the positive as I am still trying to absorb the whopping 4 points we scored against Iowa. Instead, I will continue to reminisce about the 1982, 1986 and 1994 teams, because it is with those memories that this remains a “Happy Valley” for this Penn State fan.

— Wingman

Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Les Barnhart

Categories Posted In Archive: The Cheap Seats

Cheap Seats: A Change in Washington?

A loud voice has been calling for a change in our nation’s capitol. You may have heard it. You may also have heard another voice saying that no change should be made. The voices have debated about who should be running the show and who the best man for the job is. Both men feel they can do the job and in return, they promise to return the pride and respectability that has come to be expected from the position. The talking heads have battered the issue back and forth and depending on your stance, you may agree or you may disagree. The issue is one that could go unresolved for weeks or is some people’s minds, for years. What is that issue you ask? Well, it is only the biggest issue in Washington right now.

Who should be the Redskins starting quarterback?

What? You thought I was referring to the upcoming Presidential election? Why would I, an admitted sports addict, be discussing something as non-sports as the election? With this obviously being an election year (in case you didn’t hear) the upcoming game this weekend with the Green Bay Packers at FedEx has taken on an increased importance for those believing that the result of the game will again predict who will be residing in the White House come January. So, really this is just a game between two teams looking to right their collective ships and get back to a level of respectability, right? It is if you believe that the correlation between the last 18 Presidential elections and the Redskins is just a continually repeating thing of chance.

The Redskins have successful predicted the Presidential winner in 18 straight elections by the result of the last home game before the election. If you are a Republican hoping to keep President Bush in office, you want the Redskins to be victorious. On the other hand, if you are of a Democratic persuasion, you will be donning the Cheese Heads and grilling some brauts in support of the Packers. Ah, if was just that simple. Something as simple as who has the most points at the end of the game would be the winner and not have to worry about the replay official overturning the outcome determined by those you played the game. Sounds so elementary, huh?

The two political parties have debated, strategized, polled the masses, postured and spent millions on dollars all to showcase their candidate for the American voters to see. One party has already amassed armies of attorneys to descend on the courts of the states that they deem to be close enough for a recount. One party has charged the other with voter registration fraud among other charges. You have heard the accusations that each party has leveled against each other and frankly, if you haven’t, good for you. Without turning this into a full blow political debate, I just ask this simple question to you; at what point did the Presidential election become a choice of not the best man for the job but rather which man can make the most unrealistic promises and hollow plans for the future. There was a day when every kid wanted to be the President of the United States, now ask a kid if they want to be President and most likely the answer will be, “President of what?.” There was also a time when we knew who won the Presidential election on November 3rd and that was without the need for the courts. With all the talk of Homeland Security, do you think that the deterioration of the election process has helped to weaken this country in the eyes of not only we the people but also those who chose to do us harm? Are we a nation divided? Perhaps not yet, but November 2nd hasn’t dawned yet.

Get out and exercise your right to vote. Let’s have the election be determined on the field. That means getting off the couch and making your voice heard. Don’t think for a minute that your vote means nothing. But just in case, go Redskins!

— Wingman

Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Les Barnhart

Categories Posted In Archive: The Cheap Seats

Cheap Seats: Small Town Football

It is no secret that I am a lover of football. Yes, I truly love football. No matter what level, where it is being played, when they are playing or even who is playing. It would be a stretch to include the Canadian Football League but in a pinch it would probably do. Of the football I watch, my favorite is easily at the high school level. I am fortunate to be able to call many local games on the hometown radio station. Not only does it allow me to babble on about the offensive and defensive line play or to explain how a zone blitz works, but it also allows me to be witness to some really good games played by great athletes of which most will never see the bright lights of Division I football.

Small town high school football comprises all that is good about the sport of football. Those who are playing are usually playing for several reasons. The main reason is that they love to play football and to hear the crowd cheer when they take the field wearing their schools colors with pride. They know that someday they too will return to that same field to watch the next in line take their number and continue the tradition that has been set forth before them. You see, a small town and their football team go hand in hand. Every Friday night you see the crowds fill up with familiar faces from around town. You look through the crowd and in addition to the current players parents you will see decades of former football players and cheerleaders that cheered their team on still coming out to watch their alma mater and of course to tell stories about their days in the spotlight.

There is truly something special about going to a Friday high school football game. It starts with the sight of the football field lit up in the darkness like a descending spaceship from an old fashion sci-fi movie. Then comes the sound of the marching band as they pound out their familiar tunes as they provide a wonderful segue for the fans as they file through the gates toward their seats (don’t forget your program and game ball ticket). The next step is the concession stand (where the schools truly make their money) that has filled the brisk night air with the intoxicating smells of hot chocolate, french fries and popcorn. Then it is on to your seat where the $2.00 ticket you bought serves to transport its holder to a time when their biggest concern was making sure they had their homework done on time. For the next two hours, all in attendance are provided an escape from politics, the war and all things not related to the wholesomeness that is small town high school football.

The ball is on the tee, the referee has blown the whistle and all the attention has shifted to where it belongs, for another chapter is about to be written in the memories of those on the dewy, white-lined, grassy slice of heaven.

Now, if that guy on the radio would just stop babbling about the line play…


Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Les Barnhart

Categories Posted In Archive: The Cheap Seats

Cheap Seats: Time for a change

Anyone seen Billy Kilmer? Joe Theismann? How about Doug Williams? Heck, how about someone with a pulse and an arm that is capable of breaking a pane of glass with a thrown football? I believe our current signal caller could break a pane of glass but could he if I draped a Redskin jersey over it? How about on a slant pattern? The odds just decreased, dramatically.

I was in favor of bringing Mark Brunell on board to offer his veteran leadership to the young quarterbacks Patrick Ramsey and Tim Hasselbeck from the time the move was announced. We knew when Coach Gibbs came back that he would be looking for a veteran quarterback to run his offense. Kurt Warner was dumped by the Rams but the Redskins weren’t interested based on his recent problems. A few other names were mentioned but it seemed from the beginning that Gibbs and Co. were enamored by then-Jaguar Mark Brunell. Brunell had lost his starting job to the strong armed rookie Byron Leftwich and was relegated to visor and clipboard duty. But Gibbs saw something that others didn’t and a huge chunk of money and draft picks later, Brunell, our new starting quarterback, was driving Gibbs to the hospital after a diabetic episode. I thought that he would come in and help Ramsey become the quarterback that so many of us saw last season. Sure, I thought he would get his share of starts but if one didn’t have the hot hand, the other would be available. It would seem thus far this season, I as well as others, misunderstood.

It might be unfair to blame Brunell for the offense’s struggles this season but as the quarterback, it comes with the territory. Another key job requirement for a starting quarterback at any level is the ability to complete a forward pass with some regularity. At the bare minimum, hit your open receivers. Even if you aren’t able to stand in the pocket like the gunslingers such as Manning, Roethlisberger or Favre, you should still be able to throw the ball the ten yards that is necessary for the first down. An essential part of every successful offense (other than the Marino days in Miami) is the mix between run and pass. In the passing game, you need a deep threat to which you will on occasionally throw a “deep out” to, if for no other reason, just to keep the defense honest. When the running game isn’t working, the passing game should still be capable of moving the ball, especially when your receivers are getting open. Does any of this make sense to anyone but me?

The Redskins have a quarterback controversy whether they are willing to admit it or not. No, it is not a controversy over who should start but rather if they even have a quarterback on their roster that can lead the offense. Part of the reason that a veteran QB was brought in was that it would be easier for them to pick up Gibbs offensive scheme. Yes, that same scheme that the Browns defense reportedly solved and could read 80-90% of the plays before the snap of the ball. Four games and a preseason is enough time to pick up a system, maybe not the entire system but enough that the offense wouldn’t be described as “inept”. Furthermore, how many games did Brunell play in Gibbs system before he donned the burgundy and gold? The same number as both Ramsey and Hasselbeck, that number being zero. So, is that an indictment against both of them, one of which was the incumbent starter who was considered to be one of the best young quarterbacks in the league and showed the poise, leadership and toughness you look for in a quarterback, or is it simply Gibbs wanting to put his signature on the offense? Ramsey may not have played well in the limited action that he has seen this season, but at least with him playing, you feel like at least have a puncher’s chance in any game. Ramsey’s struggles could be from the beat-downs he took last year as a result of the “voyeur blocking” that the offensive line offered or it could be he is still grasping the offense. It is hard to work through your problems if you aren’t afforded the opportunity. It is equally hard to believe that someone as intelligent as Ramsey as shown himself to be can’t grasp this basic offense.

I understand that a change at quarterback may be the equivalent to changing motors on a car with four blown tires, but it is a change that has to be made and with a coach who knows the importance of not having a good motor, it as a change that has to be made before we are lapped by the field. The defense can’t be expected to carry this team with as many weapons we have on the offensive side of the ball. Gibbs needs to coach up Ramsey and turn him loose. What is the worst that can happen? We are already losing to teams we should be beating and our offensive output is just that, offensive. If the kid can’t do the job, pull him and put in Hasselbeck or Brunell, if that doesn’t work, do what we always seem to do and throw money at it and get someone in who can do it. If we are going to go down, at least go down in a blaze of glory…


Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Les Barnhart

Categories Posted In Archive: The Cheap Seats

Cheap Seats: The House of Joe

(built by The Home Depot)

I thought it would be later in the season (or perhaps never) that I would become so disgusted with my fellow Redskin “fans”. You know the ones I am talking about. The ones you had not heard from in years, who came out in droves after the announcement that Coach Gibbs was returning to the sidelines for the beloved Redskins. They brought with them the stories of Gibbs’ first tenure… they said that the team would instantly be returned to the lost glory of days past. With the coaching staff that Gibbs assembled, we would have 200+ years of coaching experience on our sidelines. Some were saying that the Redskins would make the playoffs in Gibbs first year with this team. The team and its beleaguered owner, Dan Snyder, finally had the support of the fans and more importantly, they had respectability and credibility. Yes, that burgundy and gold bandwagon that many of us have been riding for some time suddenly felt crowded.

The jury is still out on the Redskins season. At 1-3 and already losing 2 division games, they certainly haven’t made life easy on themselves. The idea of playoffs seems far off, but then again, you have to walk before you can run. The team that Gibbs and Co. inherited was not a great team, nor was it a “Gibbs” team. Key members of the team had just endured the “Spurrier Experiment” which had left them, the fans and the franchise reeling in terms of the quality of football that was being put on the field. Things were not good in the Redskin Nation. Bringing Gibbs back was a step in the right direction for a franchise that had seemingly lost their way since the day he ended his first tenure. This was a good move for the fans, the franchise and even for the league. However, from a team or player standpoint, Gibbs’ return was like slapping a coat of paint on a condemned house and selling it off as a mansion. For it is what is inside that makes the house. So when Gibbs’ inherited the team, the first thing he did was get rid of the pretty decorations that were collected over the years but really don’t serve a purpose. In their place he put in the essential components that every house needs. Not the shiniest things on the shelf but rather the ones that you can get dirty and use everyday. But like anything else, when you tear something down in order to build it back up, you can do it one of two ways.

The first is, you can just keep throwing money at it and stock the house with everything that money can buy. But in the end, that just leaves you with a bunch of overpriced collectables that don’t really fit in anywhere in the grand scheme of things. The second way is the correct way in that you have one big yard sale followed by a big dumpster being dropped in the driveway. What doesn’t sell at the yard sale goes into the dumpster. But along the way, you find a collectable or two that you feel could be salvaged and used as something productive. Everything else, goes the way of the stale pizza and ugly Christmas sweaters.

Gibbs is one of the greatest coaches in NFL history, that is a fact that can not be disputed. You could try but he has a bust in Canton, Ohio that would prove my point. Anyway, the fact that Gibbs is a great coach is not the question, his needing to be a miracle worker might be. So much pressure has been put on a team with a new coaching staff and a number of new starters that it seems if the Redskins don’t make the playoffs (something they have done only once since Gibbs last coached), the season could be a disappointment. What? A disappointment? The realists that follow this team would call an 8 win season something to brag about. Just beating the skirts off those damn Cowboys would be considered a huge success at this point.

Give Gibbs and his staff some time to mold this team and I believe what we will get will be truly something special. I am not a Redskin apologist by any means and I am ready for a return to the glory we once enjoyed, but nothing worth having ever came easy. We as fans once enjoyed the view from the penthouse and will again someday, for the House of Joe is being built and we will have the best house on the block once again.


Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Les Barnhart

Categories Posted In Archive: The Cheap Seats

Cheap Seats: Hammer and Nail

When I think of sports rivalries, I think of two teams that hate each other and subsequently beat each other up when they play and their fans share that passion. Some of the great rivalries that jump to my mind are the Redskins-Cowboys, Steelers-Browns, Dolphins-Bills, Penn State-Pitt, Florida State-Miami, Georgia-Florida, Cubs-Cardinals, Yankees-Red Sox and Duke-Kentucky. Part of the formula for a successful rivalry is that it is two sided. As in you can apply the old adage, “you can throw the teams records out when they square off”. Leading up to Monday night’s Redskins-Cowboys game, I had been thinking a great deal about “the rivalry”.

During the game, ABC posted a statistic which detailed the last 13 games between the Redskins and Cowboys. The Cowboys, after Monday nights win, now are 13-1 in the last 14 games played against the Redskins. My guess is that the Cowboys don’t hold such an advantage over any other team in the league. It set me to thinking about this “rivalry”. A true rivalry has two teams that don’t have a decided advantage in one teams favor. One team has as much chance as the other does. Don’t get me wrong, despite losing, the Redskins are a much different team that those who played in the previous 13 games against the Cowboys. The problem is the result was once again the same. The Cowboys are to the point where they EXPECT to win the games against the Redskins.

Is this rivalry still a rivalry or is it just anger because we can’t beat “America’s Team”? We, as Redskins fans will always hate the Cowboys but that may be something that is bred into us. Some Cowboy fans don’t share that sentiment about the Redskins and maybe for good reason. Yes, having Coach Gibbs being back will pump some energy into the fans and franchise. But much like in baseball where that sport’s most storied rivalry, the Yankees and Red Sox, has lost some of its luster in many Yankee fans eyes, the component that makes a rivalry is that the teams have to beat each other. If not, it is just one team beating up on another. The Red Sox mount their charge, make lots of noise and get their fans riled up but in the end, they lose to the hated Yankees. They lose, not because the Yankees are a better team, but rather because the Yankees EXPECT to win.

I see the rivalry being more of a fan rivalry because we so badly want to have those days back when the Redskins and Cowboys hated each other so bad that even players named Dallas were told to change their names if they wanted to wear the Burgundy and Gold. As it stands though, I see the Cowboys and Redskins as a hammer and nail. For you see, between the hammer and nail, there is no rivalry. One simply pounds the other one flat and they ready itself for the next time they meet. So until the Redskins can stand up and win back some respectability in this “rivalry”, they are simply serving as the nails which hold together the Cowboys house of cards.


Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Les Barnhart

Categories Posted In Archive: The Cheap Seats

Cheap Seats: The Hogettes

Note: This week’s Cheap Seats is being guest written by BossHog for Wingman. Hurricane Ivan hit Wingman and the rest of Pennsylvania hard, and unfortunately, he is still bailing out his basement. Our thoughts and wishes go out to Wingman and his family as they sort through the mess. We look forward to having him back as soon as possible.

In the summer of 2003, was fortunate enough to be invited to Ken Harvey’s Football Fan Classic to help with the event. Fans were treated to a great day meeting all the Redskins Alumni in attendance, and it also offered fans a chance to get to meet the Hogettes as well. So I took advantage of the opportunity.

I met Howiette (Howard Churchill) and Mikey T (Michael Torbert) at some point in the day and we got talking. They asked me if I would be willing to help them with a website and I leaped at the opportunity. Why did I leap?

Because the Hogettes are easily amongst the most philanthropic people you will ever meet. Their tireless effort for charity in the Washington area is not only well known, it’s come to be expected. For over 20 years, the Hogettes have been showing up at hospitals to bring a smile to children’s faces. For over 20 years, the Hogettes have been raising money for kid’s charities, in fact this year; they will surpass 100 MILLION dollars raised. For 20 years, opposing fans have been poking fun at them and they have trudged forward regardless. So not only was I willing to help, I was anxious to. I just wanted a chance to give back to a group of guys that personify what being a fan is all about.

Well over the next little while, I put together the Hogettes website, and got to know them better personally. As I was preparing the biographies for the site, it was the first time that I was made aware of just how diverse a group of individuals they are. It was the first time I was made aware of how they were just a group of ordinary guys that were doing extraordinary things. I had a great time putting the site together, and it was a true honor to be bestowed with.

Later in 2004, it was revealed that Howiette would be the 2004 Visa Hall of Fans inductee at the Hall of Fame. Visa now inducts one fan from each team into the Hall of Fame each year. Howie marked the third Hogette to be inducted since 1999, as Mikey T and Spiggy had already been enshrined. Howie asked me if I would like to attend the function, and I told him that I would do everything I could to get my Canadian mug to Canton for the HOF inductions. As luck would have it, it worked out that I could go to Canton on the way home from Redskins training camp and indeed, I would be able to attend Howie’s ceremony.

Excited as I was to finally get to meet the entire troop of Hogettes, it paled in comparison to the day that was in store for me. I just wasn’t prepared for them. These guys eat, sleep and breathe Redskins football, and it was humbling for a fan such as myself to be in the presence of such fandom. Never once was I made to feel the slightest bit uncomfortable, in fact, despite being in the company of ‘strangers’, I was made to feel very comfortable indeed… and appreciated for my help in putting out the website.

The day was filled with activities. First there was the morning ceremony to induct all of the worthy recipients. There were ‘crazy’ fans from all teams represented… each one with their own distinct style but with one common thread… fanatic football fandom. One after one they got up on stage and gave brief speeches about being the fan that they were, and one after one, they humbled me more. If you think you know what being a fan is all about, I assure you I met people on that Monday that re-defined the terms for me. Each speech was a testimonial of their dedication, and each speech had a unique perspective. Rarely do you see so many people speak without boredom setting in.

When the inductions were over, we went outside for some photos in front of the Hall of Fame. You will find pictures of the day in our Galleries but even they will probably not convey the camaraderie and respect that was evident amongst this group. There was no ‘our team is better than your team,’ or ‘we’re gonna kick your butts when we play you,’ these guys and gals legitimately had mutual admiration for each other. These fans were above the bravado and personified what ‘supporting your team’ is all about.

After the ceremony, the 9 of the 12 Hogettes in attendance packed up and we went back to a house nearby to allow the Hogettes to ‘dress down’ and get into civilian clothing before we went out for lunch. It was the first time that I had been around most of these guys when they weren’t in ‘full drag’. It was fun just to find out what some of them actually looked like. We spent the afternoon eating together, drinking together, and getting ready for that night’s game against the Broncos. We sat around and talked about the upcoming year that the Redskins were going to have, and we all learned a little more about each other.

That night, we had the official Hall of Fame tailgating party to go to, and then of course the Redskins / Broncos HOF game. We started making our way to the stadium to tailgate about two and a half-hours before the game, and though we had only two blocks to walk… it took well over an hour. Why?

Because every fan in Canton wanted to stop and have their picture taken with this unique group of individuals. Redskin fans, Bronco fans, Lions fans alike would come up and ask to have their picture taken with the ‘infamous’ Hogettes. And every one of them got what they were after. Talk about selfless and accommodating… the Hogettes did not deny a single request as we stopped repeatedly for pictures. When we got inside the tailgating party, it was more of the same… everybody wanting a piece of them, and everyone getting one. I have never witnessed anything like it before. And it continued on into the night after the Redskins victory. After the game, there were still more people wanting more pictures. It was relentless to say the least.

I realized just how incredible this group of men and women are. They get nothing for their time, nothing but the satisfaction of doing good things and that is more than enough reward if you were to ask one of them. They pay for everything out of pocket, they volunteer inordinate amounts of time, and they do it all for the burgundy and gold and for the children in need.

The 2004 season saw proudly launch their tailgating club. We’re just starting out, but we wanted to give you all the opportunity to meet some of the people that help get this website out there everyday. I made mention of this to the Hogettes, and they asked me if I would like to have the Hogettes at some of the tailgating functions. What, are you kidding me? Well these guys don’t kid around when it comes to football and not only were they sincere in their offer, they PROMISED me that they would do their best to get Hogettes to various tailgating functions for our website’s patrons. This week, Howiette, DEHog and I were able to make arrangements to make the Monday night game against Dallas, the first of these exciting events.

So we would like to proudly announce that if you come out to this week’s tailgating party, not only will you get to meet some of volunteers, but you’ll be able to meet some of the Hogettes as well. If you’ve ever wanted to spend more than a passing moment with these great Redskin fans, then now is your opportunity. Not only that, the Hogettes will be bringing Beth Scott, who is a TEN TIME Olympic Gold medal winner. In fact, she has won SEVENTEEN medals in total and she often brings one of her medals with her so that people can check it out.

So… if you’re going to this week’s epic Redskins / Cowboys Monday night battle… stop by the Tailgating Club in Red Lot #4. Not only can you have a few refreshments and probably some food too, but you can also meet the Hogettes and maybe even hold a real Olympic gold medal. The Hogettes will also have raffle tickets there for their Joe Gibbs Performance Truck raffle. We will have more information on how you can get involved next week, but you can also find out at the tailgating party if you are in attendance.

And all of this is because the Hogettes legitimately felt that they ‘owed’ me something.

The Hogettes don’t owe anyone anything, but we Redskin fans all owe them at least a thank-you. Why not come out Monday and give them that thanks?

Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Mark Solway

Categories Posted In Archive: The Cheap Seats