I wrote the below post for the Mottram brother’s Mr. Irrelevant after correctly predicting the outcome of Skins vs. Seahawks game this year. Thanks to Chris and Jamie for hosting me.
In this time of depression and hopelessness with the Washington Football Team I thought I’d use my guest post to go back to a time when, for one night at least, everything was perfect.
At midnight on 9 September 2012 I was sitting in the Green Bean coffee cafe at Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan on my way home from what had been an unenjoyable seven-month deployment to Afghanistan. With access to wireless internet for the first time in months I’d been camped out in the Green Bean soaking up the goings on in the world and was planning on refreshing ESPN.com to keep up with the Washington season-opener against the Saints and, more importantly, Robert Griffin III’s NFL debut.
In my normal life I’m one of those who’s always on top the latest news and rumors, checking the Twitters, reading Mr. Irrelevant (ahem), etc. In Afghanistan, with long stretches of no access to the World Wide Web, I was out of the loop. No internet was not something new in my Army career; I’d been similarly isolated before, kept abreast of the latest (days- and weeks-old) news by letters from my Dad and then-girlfriend (now wife) filled with cut-out newspaper articles and box scores. When I left for Basic in April of 2010 the Caps led the Canadians 3-1 in the playoffs, and it wasn’t until a month later I found out how that turned out. (Freaking Halak, man.)
With the way Washington-area teams had performed of late I thought I wasn’t going to miss much. When I left the States, Washington was coming off a year that featured Rex Grossman and John Beck (John Beck!) doing something that was supposed to resemble being an NFL quarterback, and RGIII was the newly crowned Heisman Trophy winner. When I went to the MWR tent at our FOB in May all of a sudden we’d traded away every draft pick that ever was and ever will be, and RGIII was my team’s quarterback. When you’re away from the firehose of information that is following sports in this day and age you miss a lot of the small stuff that never mattered anyway. I missed the rumors, the pros-and-cons debate was all over already, and RGIII was the QB of the future for my favorite football team.
I lucked out that night in Manas. The Skins/Saints game was playing on the Armed Forces Network; no need to refresh my browser so I could watch it live. Another guy, from another unit and whom I didn’t know, pulled up a chair next to me. He was a Skins fan too, and he couldn’t believe we were about to watch RGIII in a Washington uniform either. Sports man, bringing two strangers together in the strangest places. I’ll admit to half-paying attention in the beginning as I tried to catch up on the Orioles’ success (naturally they waited until I was halfway around the world to have their best season in forever), and then this happened:
Not since Brunell hit Moss with that second TD in Dallas had I felt like that. All the tension, the stress from the deployment felt like it lifted right then, that I was going home and that I was physically all right. Yeah, sports are stupid and lots of stuff is way more important but they really can take your mind off things. The other guy, whose name I’ve forgotten, and I watched the rest of the game making grand predictions about number of Super Bowls and MVPs (we agreed Garcon and Morris and Griffin would probably split the votes). Finally, at four in the morning, with the first win of the new era under our belts, we said goodbye and went back to our respective tents, full of optimism for the future of our team.
A few days later I was home in North Carolina, back with my family. I actually ended up going to a game, at their lowest point of the season, the home loss against the Panthers (and inadvertently helped my Platoon Sergeant turn the Carolina season around). That season ended … poorly, last year was worse and this year, well, let’s not talk about this year quite yet.
But that first game, that first TD pass. As bad as it gets, and it’s pretty bad, I’ll always remember that night in freaking Kyrgyzstan when home was on the horizon and everything seemed possible in Washington.