Hail to the Redskins

Parish Diary

Fr. Peter J. Daly

11/22/98

 

Hail to the Redskins

           

            I had a one game career in the NFL.  Let me tell you how it happened.

It's no secret.  This year the Washington Redskins don't have a prayer.   Or perhaps more accurately, all they have is a prayer.

About the time our beloved Skins were 0-5, the Washington Post concluded that they needed outside help.  The Post began to enlist the local clergy to invoke the aid of the Almighty.  It was meant as entertainment, of course, but in this town, people took it seriously.

One thing you have to understand about Washington, there are very few things that unite us as a city.  We are collection of transients.  We have no discernible accent, eating habits or clothing styles. We have no common race, politics or religion. About the only thing we all share is a football team.  So the Redskins matter to everyone: black and white, rich and poor, Republican and Democrat, believer or atheist.

I got a taste of this local passion in my first parish when a man reached his wrist out into the aisle as I processed in for the noon mass and tapped his watch saying, "Remember Father, kick off is 1 PM."

The first draft pick of the Post to ask divine aid was a Protestant minister.  He was sent to do battle against the Philadelphia Eagles.  We knew it would be a terrible game.  Fans in both cities were calling it the "Toilet Bowl."  To our shame we got flushed, 12-17.

            The next week, a rabbi was called up to ask the help of the Almighty against Minnesota.  The Skins were swallowed whole by the Vikings, 41 to 7.  Things were bleak in the dens of bureaucrats and lobbyists.

            After a "bye week" of contrition and repentance, the Post decided it was time to bring in a Catholic.  I called as a free agent against NY/NJ Giants.

At the time the Redskins had a record of 0-7. The pressure was on.

I stayed up most of Thursday night, drafting and redrafting.  I searched the psalms for cries of the desperate and dispairing.  I know that God does not take sides in football games, but I thought he might hear the cry of the oppressed and downtrodden.

            The prayer appeared in the paper the Saturday morning before the Giants came to town.  Some people called to say they had cut it out and put it on their refrigerators, where all true football fans go at half-time.

            A miracle happened.  The Redskins won!  They actually beat the Giants, 21-14.  I couldn't believe it.   I said a  Te Deum  in thanksgiving.

            The next day a lady called to tell me her husband was going into surgery and ask for prayers.   "I figured if it worked for the Redskins, it can work for him," she said.

            One friend of mine called the Redskins owner and told him that he should hire me as the team intercessor and chaplain.  I  waited by the phone.  No offers.  (I would have settled for a skybox.) 

One man called and asked if I would pray for an end to the NBA lockout.  I told him I was strictly a one sport prayer athlete.

            Some people begged the Post for a follow-up prayer against Arizona the next week.  But the Post wisely recognized that they had strayed into a theological quagmire.  They gave up publishing prayers for the Redskins.  The next week, the Skins lost 27-29 to Arizona in the last 2 seconds. 

Thus ended my NFL career.