Tonight the Washington Redskins host the San Francisco 49ers in really cold Raljon. I’ve invited Tom Bridge of welovedc.com to answer a Q&A about his Niners. Begin!
WFY: The San Francisco 49ers came so close to coming back in Super Bowl XLVII, but couldn’t get that sixth ring – how tough was it? Was it any tougher since they were playing a team kind of near where you currently live?
TB: You know what hurt more than losing the Super Bowl? Losing the NFC Championship the year before. Maybe that was proximity, as we were home in California for that one, but I minded losing that game to the Giants more than I minded losing to the Ravens. Maybe it was the overhyped Harbowl side of it, but I found myself less bummed at their loss in the big game than I did in the year before.
It wasn’t tougher since it was the Ravens. While I’m not a Ravens fan, one of my favorite folks in DC is a huge Ravens fan, and several of my clients are Ravens fans, and they were over the moon to get the title. I was happy for them, knowing that triumph from earlier in life. Thinking about it, though, we’re coming up on 20 years since a team that I back has won their respective championship. 2014 will mark 20 years for the 49ers, and 25 years for the Oakland A’s, my only two teams to ever have done it.
WFY: Are the 49ers experiencing a letdown following Super Bowl XLVII? Is Colin Kapernick having a sophomore slump or has the league adjusted to read option quarterbacks in general?
TB: This hasn’t been the greatest season for the Niners, but I think it has more to do with excellent intelligence on the part of opposing teams, and a weaker receiving corps in the red and gold. I wanted the Niners to make a move for a top name wideout, and instead we got a middle tier one in Manningham. Crabtree’s been hurt, which has limited Kap’s options, which makes defending against the formerly potent offense into a more containable challenge.
WFY: The 49ers prime coincided with the Raiders Los Angeles years, so I imagine the part of Northern California you were from was solidly scarlet and gold. Did the silver and black make inroads after the Raiders went home to Oakland?
TB: Absolutely, and in so doing, destroyed the Oakland Coliseum. Oakland always loved the Raiders – less after the move, doubtless – and their return to the East Bay was a homecoming despite it all. I knew a few die hard Raiders fans growing up, but the priests at St. James said prayers for Joe Montana, not Al Davis.
WFY: Tangentially related, do you want to see the Rams back in LA for the sake of the rivalry?
TB: Could care less.
WFY: Succinctly, you co-own and operate a web site called “We Love DC” and have adopted the local home teams save one – the Washington Redskins. Why not?
TB: Three reasons:
1) Dan Snyder strikes me as a comic book villain. The over-management, then the mis-management, and now the bewildering under-management of the front office has me wondering what it’s like in that squirrelly little head of his.
2) The racist name. My opposition to the Washington Football Team’s name is long-standing, and it’s absolutely because I consider their name an offensive slur. I’ve heard the history, I’ve heard the claims of “80 years of history” but it all seems to pale to the offensiveness of the name. I’m not a Washington football fan, nor will my son be one. He can root for my wife’s Steelers, my 49ers, or even the Jacksonville Jaguars, just not the local outfit. But, kids have a way of making their own path, and while I’ll do my best to steer him toward the Caps, United and Nationals, I won’t be making that effort when it comes to the NFL.
3) The rampant bizarro fandom the football team have. I’m fairly sure that RG3 could be caught with a live boy, a dead girl, a goat, pictures of him assaulting the President while mooning an old lady, and the local media would shrug it all off, and the talk radio circuit would praise RG3 for being open with his sexuality, happy he was standing up to power, and that the goat was really just asking for it. Football fandom in this town is cultish, weird, and not just a little bit upsetting when you think about the injury toll.
WFY: I will not suggest that there is a rivalry between tonight’s opponents, but there were some memorable playoff games during the first Joe Gibbs era. Which one sticks out the most? I remember the NFC Championship in 1984 pretty well — that was a bogus call against Ronnie Lott, but in a since deleted “America’s Greatest Games” video I watched, Bill Walsh said it propelled the 49ers to Super Bowl XIX.
TB: I honestly was 6 in 84, so I don’t remember much before, say, the 1988 season.
WFY: Speaking of head coaches, a friend of mine in San Francisco were discussing Jim Harbaugh and reached a consensus that his act could get pretty tired if the Niners are going 10-6 or 9-7 annually and not advancing. Am I onto something?
TB: Maybe? I think that after the late 90s and early 00s, where the Niners were a massive embarrassment to the state of California. There was the better part of 15 years when I had nothing to look forward to in the Fall after baseball was done, so I suspect that Harbaugh, as long as they keep going far in the playoffs, at least past the first round, will have a lengthy tenure. He will not nearly reach Walsh’s status, though, until he wins at least 2 Super Bowls, and probably not until he’s picked up 4. Walsh is revered as a genius, a hero, and a saint, something that Harbaugh will never get credit for, mostly because of his antics. We’ll see if he can win more than he freaks out.
WFY: Did you get to Candlestick Park for 49ers games much?
TB: Nope. I’ve never seen the 49ers play live. Candlestick was a real chore to get to if you lived in the Central Valley, because it’s all the way down the Peninsula toward SFO, which would’ve been 3-4 hours drive from Davis in the traffic. I remember a Giants game or two in 86, but after that we were pretty much A’s fans.
WFY: Are you happy with the 49ers fauxback uniforms? Should they have just gone completely throwback?
TB: I’d prefer total throwback, but I bought one of the fauxback Rice jerseys last year.
WFY: Was watching the game with “the radio turned up and the sound turned down” part of the 49ers fan experience?
TB: Not as much for football as for baseball. We did listen on the radio occasionally, but I usually watched with my Dad with the TV turned up.
WFY: What is your prediction for tonight’s game?
TB: Niners are going to smoke the local football club. If there’s any justice, it’ll be a 49-0 shutout, but I think the final will be more like 28-21 SF.
WFY: I think the Skins win, just to mess with everybody