When Fans Boo (Why, Player Perspectives, and My Opinion)

The Washington Redskins beat the St. Louis Rams today at home, 9-7.  But you wouldn’t have known it by the sounds of fans.  The Skins were booed multiple times in their win against the Rams.  There were three times in particular the booing stood out.  Once was before halftime when they were down 7-6.  Another was when Zorn called a conservative running play on third down when the team was when backed up near their own end zone.  The last and most telling time was in the closing seconds of the game as Campbell kneeled to run out the clock.  It’s not often teams get booed when they win, so what the heck is going on?

Why The Fans Booed

  • Expectations were high for today’s game. The Skins were favored by 14 by some and the Rams seemed like a perfect opponent to get into an offensive groove.  The Rams last week lost to the Seattle Seahawks 28-0.  Of course, even with Matt Hasselbeck back, the Seahawks are not an offensive juggernaut.  Surely, the Skins could put the points on the board after playing a suffocating Giants D last week, right?
    • The fans weren’t the only ones who thought this game would be different.  One of the best analysts of the NFC East, Matt Mosley with the NFC East Blog on wrote in his NFC East: Final Word:

Santana Moss is about to go off on the Rams: There, I said it. I think Jim Zorn will take more shots downfield, in part, because Jason Campbell should have more time against the Rams’ front four…But the Redskins will roll in this game. Clinton Portis goes for 115 yards and a touchdown and Moss goes for six catches for 127 yards. Trust me on this stuff.

  • Last year’s loss to St. Louis is still fresh. The Redskins were on a roll last year before the talented but poorly executing Rams surprised the Skins at home.  Along with the Cincinnati Bengals, the Rams game was one of the “should have won games” that  could have put the Skins in the playoffs.
  • Coach Jim Zorn’s play calling has been blamed for the offensive drought.  The fans aren’t the only ones voicing concerns.  Mike Wise of the Washington Post, wrote last week that Zorn’s trick FG play was an act of desperation.  Sonny Jurgenson also supposedly called out Zorn on the 4th and short play where Portis followed Sellers to nowhere and was stopped.
  • You don’t go to FedEx Field to cheer on Shaun Suisham.  Okay, maybe there are a few of you out there.  But you go to see Moss, Portis, Campbell and Cooley score touchdowns.

What the Players Thought of Being Booed

Dan Steinberg of Washington Post’s DC Sports Bog had some great quotes in his piece, “So is it really time to boo the Skins?” Here are some highlights:

Chris Cooley: ”You take a win when you can get it. And there’s a lot of good players, and there’s a lot of good teams in this league. I think Washington prides themselves on being the best fans, and I think that they should try to be the best fans. We won. I understand they wanted us to beat the Rams by 40, but we still won, and we if we continue to win games, that’s great. Booing’s unnecessary.”

Antwaan Randle El: “We appreciate them, and everyone has freedom of choice,” Antwaan Randle El said, “but for us as a team, we play better when you don’t [boo].”

My favorite was really Fred Smoot and Steinberg’s conversation:

“They’re the fans; if they want to boo, let them boo,” Fred Smoot said. “They should have booed.”  I asked why he thought fans should boo; “because they wanted to,” Smoot said. “You can’t control them, you can just control what we did on the field.”

My least favorite: Redskins Linebacker Robert Henson from his twitter account: “The question is who are you to say you know what’s best for the team and you work 9 to 5 at Mcdonalds.”

(Agents, do you know where your clients are?  Here’s a hint to Henson: don’t try and apologize or defend yourself to everyone.  Put up a tweet or two to everyone and call it a night, let it blow over!)

Why I Wouldn’t Have Booed

  • We won.  Yes it was ugly.  Yes, Zorn could have called some better plays.  Sellers dropped a TD pass, as did Devin Thomas on plays called by Zorn.  But we’re tied in the NFC East after the Eagles and Cowboys lost today.
  • This is DC (or the DMV if you prefer), not Philly.  I hate to say it but who else boos their team when they win?  Philadelphia Eagles fans are known as being some of the most critical fans in sports. However, Redskins fans have a tradition of being the most loyal fans in the NFL and all of sports.  The fan base has taken a toll in recent years due to ticket prices, sparse playoff appearances and free agent acquisitions that  have only teased it.  What a drop off from the rocking days of RFK?  Let’s not pull a Philly here and boo a winning team at home.
  • There should be an advantage to being at home. Why not cheer for them and not against them?  Having one of the largest stadiums in the NFL should haunt the visiting team, not the Redskins.
  • This is a dangerous precedent. I kind of understand the booing at half time, but after the game is over when you win?  Is there a certain point differential you need to have to not get booed?  Do you boo through the third quarter if they are still losing?  Often the fans can be instrumental in shifting the momentum between teams.  It can provide the energy or optimism players can use as that “spark” to do things like this.

What Washington Sportsjam Twitter Followers think:

nunyabeeI think the final score & the fact that we didnt destroy the Rams irritated the entire fanbase 2day. I dont see any improvement

nunyabee@dcsportsjam I personally dont & didnt boo but I cant really blame the fans that did. We need 2 c a better product on the field IMO.

WithAView@dcsportsjam Maybe I’M a “blind homer”but booing like a Philly crowd doesn’t make a “12th man”. Not telling them anything they don’t know.

jbeardsley@dcsportsjam My take – fan frustration at playcalling, poor execution, owner and playing down to lesser teams. For years. Not player focused

dcborn61@dcsportsjam players, coaches are professionals. Getting public feedback goes with the territory. Fans would much rather cheer

Other follower tweets:

Hensen, who isn’t on the 53, should practice hard and keep his mouth shut. When he produces on the field, he can talk.

Maybe I’M a “blind homer”but booing like a Philly crowd doesn’t make a “12th man”. Not telling them anything they don’t know.

What Do You Think?

Do the Skins deserve to be booed?  Does it matter?  What do you think about Robert Henson’s idea that those that booed are fake fans and haters?

5 Comments to “When Fans Boo (Why, Player Perspectives, and My Opinion)”

  • Boycotts and “Revolution” « Washington Sportsjam October 16, 2009 at 2:38 PM

    [...] (back when we were 1-2, yeah, 1 AND 2!) as well as not showing up at games/selling tickets, or booing at home games when the team doesn’t produce while defensively stating, “we’re not booing the [...]

  • Matt September 22, 2009 at 4:14 PM

    I take issue with your comment, Drew. Thanks for posting though.

    Your comment that D.C. (the city) has never had or does not have class because it has crime has the following problems:

    1. There is a difference between the general population of an area and it’s fan base. This is true in particular where a team has various geographical areas connected to it. Redskins fans consist of D.C., Maryland, Virginia (all of it, not just Northern VA), parts of West Virginia and even small pockets of North Carolina.

    2. Washington D.C. is recognized as one of the most sophisticated cities on the planet, since, well, it is the Capitol and the capital of the free world.

    3. Comparatively speaking, when you take it and match it up against the fan bases of other cities it wins a “classy contest”. Cities such as Philadelphia (known to be die-hard but especially critical and sometimes out of control) and Baltimore (which as gotten better the last few years but a place where fans would consistently chant “Bull Shit” to a disagreeable call by a ref, with children hoisted in the air-Lion King style- to chant along) are just two off the top of my head. There are other areas as well that the fans are considered more respected.

    Thanks for commenting.


  • drew luttrell September 22, 2009 at 2:48 PM

    What about D.C. was ever classy?? N.E….S.E….. Downtown??? Its all crime!!!

  • Mark Kalriess September 21, 2009 at 3:29 PM

    Good article Matt,

    I think one of the reason for the frustrations is the fact that we have been waiting for our offense to explode since Zorn got here. A QB Coach, a former QB, a more wide-open philosophy the fans have been waiting for some more offensive fireworks and less close wins. I think most of the fans believe the talent it there.

    But booing? Like its been said, I’d like to think that Skins fans are classier than Philly fans and that FedEX Field has one of the best home team advantages in the NFL.

    I think its okay to boo a bad call, or boo an opposing player. But I don’t think booing your team’s coaches or player’s helps anything. I was there at the Rams game last year. Durant Brooks was doing terrible and started to be booed. Then each time he punted he did even worse and then was booed more. His own fans affected his performance negatively.

    Like Ron Burgundy said, let’s stay classy D.C.

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