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The Redskins and the election


I give up. This board is too hard to understand.
Half politics... half Pro Football... I guess I'll post it here.


Trend: As the Redskins go, so goes the election
Updated: Thursday October 28, 2004 12:25AM

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) -- This election season, Washington Redskins cornerback Fred Smoot has a predicament faced by many NFL players: a Democrat's background and a Republican's income.

"They turn Republican. I see it all the time," Smoot said. "It all goes back to changing your economic value."

Smoot, a black from modest means in Mississippi, has decided to choose his roots over his pocketbook. He is supporting Democratic Sen. John Kerry for president.

"When you go into a higher tax bracket, all of a sudden you don't want to vote for this candidate because he's going to raise taxes," Smoot said. "I thought about it. I'm not going to solely vote for this candidate just because he's going to save me a couple of dollars and it not turn out to be the best thing for me or my country."

That, however, presents Smoot with another dilemma: For Kerry to win, the Redskins have to lose on Sunday -- at least according to a bizarre statistical correlation that's been accurate for seven decades.

"We've got to win this game no doubt, but I'm hoping John Kerry can kind of reverse the curse," Smoot said. "I'm wishing him luck, man. This is the millennium for all trends to be broken."

Since the Redskins became the Redskins in 1933, the result of the team's final home game before the presidential election has correctly predicted the White House winner. If the Redskins win, the incumbent party wins. If they lose, the incumbent party is ousted.

"It's kind of amazing," coach Joe Gibbs said. "You wouldn't think something like that would line up that many times."

Gibbs said the statistic doesn't really mean anything, but he can at least pretend that it does -- because he's solidly in the Bush camp.

"Hopefully we'll have a lot of people pulling for us," said Gibbs, who voted when he traveled to his North Carolina home over the weekend. It was the Redskins bye week.

Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards has been quoted as saying he's rooting for the Green Bay Packers, the Redskins' opponent on Sunday. While no doubt thankful for the endorsement, Green Bay coach Mike Sherman is concerned about more rudimentary matters, such as the health of quarterback Brett Favre.

"It's going to take a lot more than Packers fans to determine the outcome of an election," Sherman said.

The locker room, particularly in Washington, isn't immune to political discussions in this politically charged year. Tackle Jon Jansen recently showed up for a game wearing a Bush pin on his shirt.

Most players, however, are reluctant to go public with the views. Quarterback Mark Brunell made his preference for Bush known earlier this week, but he backed off when asked about it again Wednesday.

"I don't know if it was very smart," Brunell said, "so I'm going to keep it quiet right now."

One reason for the reluctance could be the financial question. Ray Brown, a 19-year veteran, has seen many teammates conflicted over whether to switch allegiances based on their tax bracket.

"It's a dilemma," said Brown, who has an absentee ballot for California. "I think you'll see guys vote across the lines."

Although his political leanings are known, Gibbs can't take sides as the leader of the team. He said he followed politics closely during his 12-year absence from the NFL, but that he never considered running for office himself.

"I've invited enough nightmares into my life," the coach said with a laugh.

Until recently, the Redskins had been the subject of another political quirk. For 52 years -- from 1946 to 1998 -- they failed to make the playoffs under a Democratic administration. That one went by the wayside when the team won the NFC East in 1999, when Bill Clinton was president.

Some players are puzzled by all the talk of the election -- and how the team's success seems coincidentally tied to it.

"I'm not much into politics," linebacker Marcus Washington said. "All I know is this is going to be a tough week for us. Brett Favre's going to be tough. Ahman Green's tough. Those are two tough candidates right there."

But the passions are spirited among other players, begging the question: If the Redskins were a state, who would get its electoral votes?

"We have a couple of Bush guys. We have a couple of Kerry guys," linebacker Lemar Marshall said. "This is one of those swing teams."

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.