I can’t even lie, I’m nervous.
Don’t get me wrong, the fact that our beloved NFL is finally back and tonight is the debut of Monday Night Football has me excited and in high anticipation for the upcoming season. But at the same damn time, with my focus on the burgundy and gold, I can’t help but be a tad unsettled.
The tweet heard ’round the world popped up around 10:30 on Thursday, August 29: “Operation Patience….Complete. Cleared. To God Be The Glory.”
Robert Griffin III, despite some questions surrounding his declaration, was ready for Week 1. And a few days later, Mike Shanahan confirmed that indeed his franchise QB would be ready to take the field tonight against the Eagles.
However, for as much as that was the news I wanted to hear, and as quickly as I wanted to talk a little trash and boldly throw out my 11-5, NFC East champion prediction, part of me was a tad hesitant. Hesitant then, and as the the new-look Eagles come to town, that uncertainty remains.
I wrote last year for The Shadow League that RG3 brought a hope to DC and to Redskins nation that fans haven’t felt since the glory days of Joe Gibbs in the ’80s and early ’90s. What happened last season created a feeling among fans that many thought was gone forever. Years of disappointment had become the norm and weekly frustration was expected.
But in a flash, literally, things changed and we had a quarterback who not only brought excitement to the field, but gave fans the belief that we could actually compete and be relevant for the foreseeable future. And even though a 3-6 start left some with here-we-go-again feeling, a seven-game winning streak to end the season and clinch an NFC East let us know that we indeed had something special in No. 10.
For as much of a dream season it was for those in the DMV and Redskins fans around the word, the lasting image we have of last season was RGIII laying on the ground and limping off the field in the playoff loss to Seattle. Some blamed Mike Shanahan. Some blamed the awful field conditions. Some even blamed RGIII.
Whatever the case, the story of the offseason in the NFL was RGIII, his recovery and whether or not he would be ready for the season opener tonight. At times, it was nauseating. At times, I wanted to reach through the TV screen and snatch Griffin and tell him to shut the hell up. For a fan base that wasn’t used to having a franchise player garner such a national following, the coverage at times seemed unbearable. The hype? Exciting, yet nerve-wracking.
Can RG3, coming off an offseason of rehab and high expectations, come close to matching the performance of his rookie season? Can the Redskins handle the pressure of being expected to win? Like many, I’ll be watching with optimism to see if indeed both those questions can be answered.
So as all eyes are on FedEx field tonight, forgive me if I’m not that fan who is booking his train ticket and hotel rooms for February in New York just yet. I’ll hold my breath as RGIII takes off for the first run of the night and cringe when he gets sacked to see if he bounces back up and shakes it off.
“Operation Patience”? Yeah, that’s wasn’t just for RGIII.
It’s the approach I’m taking heading into the season for now.