You think things with the football team in Washington can go no lower. They just can't. No way in hell.
Then the bar goes lower. You stand there, mouth agape. And then even lower. You stand there, mouth on the floor, holding back the urge to scream like you've seen a ghostly spirit. Lower, putting on its wading boots, walking through the muck and slop and the broken dreams, cutting like glass. You say: Can't go lower than that.
Then the team goes so low, it goes subterranean.
There was the time the team sued a 72-year-old grandma over tickets. Damn. Sued Grammy. Over some freaking tickets. Can't go lower than that.
There was when Dan Snyder became one of the first to charge fans for the privilege of attending training camp. If not the first. Ten bucks to get in. Ten bucks to park. Lower.
There's of course the constant descent of defending that horribly racist nickname. No, no. Lower.
There's firing Marty Schottenheimer despite an 8-3 record in his last 11 games. Why? Because it is Washington, and Washington goes low.
Many in the media believe a team official has been used to attack reporters gutlessly and anonymously on message boards. No way the team can go lower than that, right?
Then it does. Stadium vendors once sold beer in the bathrooms of FedEx Field. Nothing unsanitary about that. The bar is now an inch off the floor, and the team goes lower. The franchise once sued a newspaper for this excellent, truthful article, which lists a lot of the horrendously stupid acts the team has done. It was a remarkable piece of bullying.
The team once banned signs because they were critical of Snyder and a former general manager. That is, until it allowed a sponsor, Geico, to have its signs in the stadium.
We're below the surface of the Earth now, we're so low. There were the insane free-agent pickups, like Jeff George and a decrepit Deion Sanders and Bruce Smith, who by the time he signed in Washington had knees made of aluminum foil. For years and years and years, those busts defined the Dan Snyder era. No way it gets lower than that; then, we creep below the mantle.
I know there was the Sean Taylor tragedy but that is a category all by itself. It doesn't count here.
This does. Once, in 2005, the team said the only credit card it would take for season tickets was the team's MasterCard. The team revoked the policy once ticket holders went ballistic.
And lower. Snyder was involved with cutting down federally protected trees so he could have a better view of the Potomac River from his backyard.
And of course, there's the losing and losing and losing.
Then along came Robert Griffin III, a savior, a ray of hope. So the team ran him until his knee turned to dust. Several years after becoming the face of the franchise, he's third string, behind two dudes who will be playing in Saskatchewan not long from now.
Those moments are the culmination of low.
But nothing, not even all of that, embodies how low this franchise has sunk like what happened on Wednesday night.
The site Black Sports Online found a series of ugly, distasteful, unfounded tweets about an ESPN reporter tweeted by Jessica McCloughan, the wife of Washington general manager Scot McCloughan. Her accusations—and you can read them elsewhere, but they won't be reprinted here—were tremendously ugly and petty.
Initially, this could have been written off as something separate from the team's previous lows. After all, the rantings of a GM's wife aren't the fault of the organization.
But then the team denied the whole thing. Said the tweets weren't from her. Said it was a fake account.
Except it wasn't. And just a matter of hours later—surprise!—the team admitted it.
The team blatantly issued a statement that was a lie. About something this low. Because of course it did.
Jessica McCloughan later issued a statement that read:
I deeply apologize for the disparaging remarks about an ESPN reporter on my personal Twitter account. The comment was unfounded and inappropriate, and I have the utmost respect for both the reporter and ESPN. I regret that my actions have brought undeserved negative attention to the Redskins organization and its leadership. My comments in no way reflect the opinions or attitudes of the organization and I regret that my behavior has in any way negatively impacted the team and its loyal fan base.
The ugliest part of this is the tired use of a stereotype that women journalists often have to fight, that they sleep with sources to get their information. This doesn't happen, but that notion is sometimes wielded like a weapon.
No one ever accuses a male insider of this. It's only the women.
That is what makes this moment so awful. Of all the low moments in this team's history. Of all the failures. Of it all, this is the lowest. Go ahead and argue others, and you may be right. As someone who once admired this franchise, grew up adoring it and now sees a team falling through the center of the planet, this latest incident is tops—err, bottom—to me.
We have reached a new moment of achievement for this team. Another new low.
But just wait. It's only a matter of time before it goes lower.
Because it always does.
Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.