Like clockwork, whenever I catch a highlight of that historic 1982 NFC Championship game against Dallas, the chills inevitably run up my spine. “We want Dallas! We want Dallas!”, screamed by 53,000 strong in unison as the ancient bleachers of the dying RFK Stadium shook in harmony with that spine-tingling chant.
Perhaps there was no greater time to be a Redskins fan than during the Joe Gibbs era at RFK. That was home field advantage at its finest. The Redskins won 6-7 home games each year during most of the 1980s and early 1990s. Throw in a historic team fight song (Hail to the Redskins) and opponents would tell you they hated coming to RFK.
Then Jack Kent Cooke had a dream to build a new stadium outside of D.C. named after the aforementioned owner. With a seating capacity of 90,000, there was nothing else like the Cooke Palace in the NFL.
Unfortunately, despite holding nearly twice as many fans as the old RFK Stadium, Fed-Ex Stadium made way for a new type of Redskin fan. Sure, the 50,000 or so who held lifetime rights to season tickets continued to attend games, but now a new group emerged as part of the fan base.
The corporate casual fan now comprised a large portion of the fans attending games.
The corporate fans make a habit of showing up to games late (if at all) or they would spend the entire game stationed at one of many bars located within the stadium. Who won the game became a secondary concern, if it all.
The only positive thing Redskins fans can say about Fed-Ex Stadium is that it has made owner Daniel Snyder a ton of money. And many would say that it is really a negative. The team has lost its home field advantage (barely over a .500 win percentage since the move) for financial gains.
Americans voted for change in 2008 in Washington because of concerns over corporate greed. Fed-Ex Stadium is another prime example of greed winning out over goods.
Redskin fans have the ability to provoke change once again in Washington in 2009. Show up in your seats before the start of the game. Stay in your seats throughout the game. Yell and chant like you’re attending a bloody English soccer match. And, most importantly, do not allow fans cheering for the opposing team to ever feel comfortable in our house (I’m not encouraging physical abuse of any kind, but there are legal ways to let them know they are not welcomed in Fed-Ex Stadium).
Bring back the 12th man, and you will see more home wins!