The Washington Redskins will play the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on December 28, 2008, in their final game of this NFL season.
After the final gun—win, lose, or draw (Memo to DM: it happens)—53 men will trot off the field, make their way up the ramp to the visiting locker room, and peel off their burgundy and gold accoutrements for the last time.
Said uniforms will then be whisked away, laundered, neatly folded...and put in storage.
The next time those hallowed threads take the field in earnest will be some seven and a half months hence, in early August 2009, when Washington plays its first preseason game of the new season. That actual date is not yet set in stone, but if past serves as prologue it will be on or around Aug. 7, 2009.
For those keeping score at home, that means:
Three remaining days in December 2008, plus
Thirty-one days in January 2009, plus
Twenty-eight days in February 2009, plus
Thirty-one days in March 2009, plus
(hold on, punching numbers)
... and seven days in August 2009.
Two hundred and twenty-two days.
So forget dashed expectations. Be in the moment Sunday. Watch every last minute. Commit the rhythms and feel of the game to memory—hard drive, not RAM. Savor the immediate gut reaction to each and every play, should it fall anywhere along the spectrum from pigskin agony (Sellers fumbling at the goal line) to gridiron ecstasy (Campbell to Moss to beat the Saints).
Because somewhere around mid-March, reality is going to hit. It will seem like forever since you last saw your colors on the field of play, and there will remain almost five months before you see them again.
True, you have the first Philadelphia and Dallas games on DVR. Not the same. Recorded games—even the best—are like memories of lovemaking. Treasures to be sure, but lesser by degrees of magnitude than those magical moments when she glances over her shoulder, starts up the stairs, and her eyes suggest delights yet unknown.
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.