So Washington Post sports columnist Mike Wise wrote this great column Friday in which he actually polled most of the Washington Redskins on their choice for President.
And lo and behold, it turns out most of the 'skins are backing Barack Obama — 28 for Obama to 9 for McCain, with 7 undecided as of last week. This is not insignificant — Virginia, where the Redskins training facility is located, is a key state in this election. And, as cornerback Fred Smoot told the AP, it's not such an easy choice for these well-paid gridiron stars: "We're coming from Democratic backgrounds, but we got Republican money right now."
For all his careful reporting, however, Wise neglected to ask the most obvious question: does their support for Obama mean the Washington players will, if not actually throw tonight's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, then maybe not play so hard? Because history says in order for Obama to win, the 'skins must lose.
Last week, Evie mentioned what has become known as the "Redskins Rule." It goes like this: If the Redskins win their last home game prior to Election Day, the party that won the popular vote in the previous election wins the White House; if the Redskins lose, the party that lost the popular vote in the previous election wins. It's predicted the winner of every presidential race since 1937, when the Redskins first began playing in the nation's capital.
Now, it's pretty easy to figure out who the candidates themselves (who will be appearing in interviews at halftime) will be rooting for — at least publicly. Both of them dearly want to win Pennsylvania and the western half of the state, home to all those Steelers fans, is swing territory. Besides, D.C. and Maryland (where the Redskins actually play these days) are safe Obama territory anyway.
And what about all those Obama fans in the stands tonight at Fed-Ex field? Well, it's an AFC game so it counts less in the standings; the 'skins are 6-2 going into their bye week; a loss wouldn't be all that catastrophic at this point. And there are plenty of Republicans rooting for the home team, too. But don't be surprised if there's a little less enthusiasm than usual from the ferociously loyal capital crowd.