Tonight marks my first trek back to Fed Ex Field since the 2003 Dallas game, where the Redskins were shellacked 27-0 in a driving freezing rain. That was the last game before college and before we gave up our season tickets, but now I have them back. Nosebleed, Section 414, Row 16, Seats 7 and 8. I couldn’t be more pumped about a preseason game, just because I love going to see the Redskins live more than almost anything. Tonight is also the true debut of my good buddy Doug Roberts as a member of the Washington Redskins marching band, so if you’re in attendance tonight, make sure to yell for that cool kid playing the trombone. Congrats Doug!
Alright, down to business…the defending world champion Pittsburgh Steelers come to town in a game many people could care less about, but it was only 9 months ago when we all had to endure the Terrible Towel debacle on Monday Night Football. As many of you know, my sister married into a Pittsburgh family, and my generalizations about the city of Pittsburgh and their teams do not apply to my brother-in-law. He’s never been an ass about how successful Pittsburgh has been in recent years when it comes to just about anything football or hockey. However, beyond the family ties, Pittsburgh fans REALLY piss me off. Not only is the DMV populated by millions of transplants from Western Pennsylvania, but they all love to tell you how DC is such a shithole and how Pittsburghers are far more loyal and vastly superior in every way to someone from this area (we’ll refer to this complex as Pittsburgh Transplant Syndrome OR PTS). Here are some of the things that REALLY piss me off about ‘burghers when a Washington vs. Pittsburgh game comes up on the schedule:
1. There are more Northern Virginia-raised kids that I can count that have managed to find some reason to be Steelers fans: a la “my family’s from there” or “my best friends mom’s dog was born there”…you get the point…it’s all bullshit. They all find the need to fly their black and gold allegiances and tell you how much DC teams suck, even though they were born and raised around here.
2. Their fans not only show up to away games, but they show up in DROVES and all seem to suffer from PTS AND Diarrhea of the mouth. Neither of these make for fun conversation in the stands.
3. Speaking of conversation, every one with a Pittsburgher ends in some sort of put down about how ugly Alex Ovechkin is (or how he doesn’t backcheck or kiss Gary Bettman’s ass like Crosby), how they have twice as many Super Bowl victories as us, or how the traffic around this area blows (to which they contribute significantly) . Fans from every city have their shtick arguments, but I just tend to hear the one from Pittsburgh more than any other.
4. Their goddamned towels that go everywhere...and Dan Snyder finds the need to copy…and are obnoxious.
5. That stupid guy in the pink polo shirt (and a popped collar) at the Caps/Oilers game last February who heckled Ovi the whole game for all of the items mentioned in #3. Get a life and watch a game where your team is actually involved.
6. The word yinz, which doesn’t make any freaking sense and should never be used in any context EVER.
7. Their quarterback has two Super Bowl rings, but apparently he doesn't know what hockey team plays in their city.
Ok, deep breaths. I’m really pumped about the game tonight, but I don’t want to listen to Pittsburgh fans. That’s the gist. As far as the game, it looks as though we’ll get to see Albert Haynesworth and Clinton Portis, and the starters could see about a quarter and a half of play. Here are a few things to keep an eye on:
· Haynesworth’s disruptiveness: It’s only preseason, but keep an eye on how many snaps Haynesworth gets and what he does with them. Additionally, look to see how his presence affects the pass rush and how long the Steeler have to hold onto the football.
· Portis’s health: Let’s see how hard Clinton hits the hole tonight. Everyone knows his feelings on preseason, but he didn’t look healthy at the end of last year, and he needs to have fresh legs to start this season. Although he hasn’t hit 30 yet, he’s got enough wear on his tires to run like someone older, so it will be interesting to see if he can keep his play up to his high standards.
· Orakpo’s development: How will #98 perform in his second live-action setting? He seemed to settle in pretty well against Baltimore, and really has potential to be a star in Greg Blache’s defense. If he can perform well again tonight, the town is really going to start some buzz about him.
· Nickel corner: Who won’t shit the bed this week against Pittsburgh’s receivers? I see Justin Tryon getting absolutely shredded by Limas Sweed tonight.
· Fred Davis’s hands: Will Fred hit that snooze button again tonight? The fumbles have to stop.
· Points: The offense HAS to put up something, or Jim Zorn is really going to hear it. Two shutouts in a row won’t go over well…especially if I have to sit out in the rain to watch this game.
I think that’s everything. I’ll be back with a recap tomorrow morning.