The Washington metropolitan area is famously a place where vast numbers of the citizenry come from somewhere else, drawn to the community by its cottage industry — the federal government.
It is also a locale where coordinated action on key civic concerns such as housing and transportation is complicated by having three separate jurisdictions comprise the region: the District of Columbia itself, and surrounding suburbs in two different states, Maryland and Virginia.
All of this works against cohesiveness. But there is one tie that binds: the professional football franchise. As a 1974 New York Times article noted, “in a city of transients … the Redskins are a hometown rallying point, a common denominator.”
That bond only strengthened through the 1980s and into the early 1990s, as the team became one of the NFL’s most dominant. True, fan devotion has been sorely tested over the last two decades by unrelenting mediocrity — or worse — on the field. But such loyalties don’t take much to rekindle. And suddenly, a surprise six-game winning streak spearheaded by rookie phenom Robert Griffin III again has made the ‘Skins the object of mass affection.
The season now hinges on a couldn’t-be-better scripted climax: a nationally televised Sunday night home game against the team’s most despised foe, the accursed Dallas Cowboys, with a prime playoff spot on the line.
All this week, even casual fans have been making their viewing plans for the match-up. Kickoff occurs shortly after 8 p.m., but hours beforehand those with tickets at Fed-Ex Stadium and the multitudes without will be gathering for pre-game festivities.
Except, that is, those whose work involves some connection to the House of Representatives. Like staff for its members and the chamber itself. Like security personnel. Like a plethora of journalists.
These and others will have to be on the job because — as part of the seemingly endless and going-nowhere dickering over avoiding the “fiscal cliff” on Jan. 1 — the House’s Republican leaders announced today that they are convening a session on Sunday, with votes expected to start about 6:30 p.m.
What the votes will be on remains unknown. This, though, we do know. Whatever is the football fan equivalent for the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and their cohorts have laid claim to that dubious (and likely profane) tag.