In Times Like These, D.C. Sports Fans Should Remember the Greats

John FitzpatrickContributor IOctober 2, 2009

SAN DIEGO - JANUARY 31:  Quarterback John Elway #7 of the Denver Broncos tries to avoid an onrushing Dexter Manley #72 of the Washington Redskins during Superbowl XXII on January 31, 1988 at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, California.  The Redskins defeated the Broncos 42-10. (Photo by Mike Powell/Getty Images)

It appears that Washington, D.C., sports fans don't have much to cheer about lately.  

This year, the Washington Nationals became the first team in over 30 years to have consecutive seasons of 100 losses (Not even the Pirates, with their futility the last 17 years, have had back-to-back seasons like the Nats).

The Washington Redskins—now an answer to a certain NFL trivia question—became the first team to lose to the Detroit Lions since 2007. 

The Washington Wizards, losers of 63 games last year, are hoping Gilbert Arenas' left knee is healthy enough to lead the team back into the playoffs. 

Even D.C. United, winners of four MLS championships (granted, three of the four were when the league first formed in the mid- to late-90s), are trying to stop a late-season slide that may cost the club a spot in the playoffs.

(Thank goodness for Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals, right? The team won their season opener in resounding fashion last night.)

And while "first in war, first in peace, and last in the (insert appropriate sport division here) league" can be applied to many D.C. sports teams, one would be mistaken to think this city wants your sympathy.

Granted, some of the area sports fans are little down on themselves right now, but that's understandable. 

But D.C. sports fans—particularly in times like these—should be reminded of the sports figures from not too long ago, who would have fought through this time of adversity.

Dexter Manley, the insatiable sack-machine, whose legs worked nearly as fast his mouth, wouldn't stand for this Redskins nonsense.  He'd say we have to get up and hit someone in the mouth.  And he would, too.

Dale Hunter, who was never afraid to drop the gloves, earned the second-most penalty minutes in NHL history, and was just the right mix of toughness and scoring the Caps needed to reach their first Stanley Cup finals in 1998. 

Wes Unseld, who made up for his lack of size by being more determined than his opponents, led the Bullets to four NBA championship games and its only title. 

Marco Etcheverry, nicknamed El Diablo for his fiery intensity on the pitch, directed the midfield for United and led them to three championships. 

Frank Howard, whose power numbers at RFK Stadium were rivaled only by Alfonso Soriano (and that was only one year) played on one winning team in his time in the nation's capital.

The names above are just a very small sample of the fearsome figures in D.C. sports history.

(This is collegiate, but how could one forget Georgetown men's basketball coach John Thompson telling Rayful Edmond, the city's most notorious drug dealer, to cease contact with his players?  And Edmond backing down?)

Well D.C. sports fans, our luck may be down but our teams will bounce back. 

That looks like the case for the Redskins this week, as they host the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

A friendly (hopefully) FedEx Field atmosphere should inspire the Redskins to take out their frustrations on the Bucs.

Winning at home—which is a must for any NFL team—will help the Skins stay relevant in a very competitive NFC East. 

Maybe Andre Carter will take a moment before the game on Sunday to look up and read the names of all the Redskins greats that circle the upper deck at FedEx Field. 

Maybe it will light a fire under him that will spread to the whole team.  Carter needs to line up and knock the head off the guy in front of him. 

Take a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, who cares?

Just send a reminder to people that D.C. sports teams will not roll over and play dead—but will fight back. 


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