Dear Eric Bickel,
I’ve long regarded you as the preeminent ‘voice’ of the Washington Redskins, and I know I’m not alone.
While you may possess a leniency towards positivity, which, albeit, may sometimes fall short of reason in the face of constant turmoil, your voice, which carries for miles and reverberates for days, perfectly resembles the chord of the Redskins’ fan; and lacks the tainted stink of one paid solely to placate the masses.
But a few weeks ago, you made a personal, and very public decision to free yourself of that turmoil; bowing to the unyielding pressure of yet another season gone awry, and abandoning your post as the bugler for optimism.
All this at the feet of what was shaping to be the Redskins’ twelfth losing season in twenty-one years, eighth in the last twelve, and third in Mike Shanahan’s – the man who arrived on the scene to overtures of a return to glory – four years in Washington.
That arc paints an increasingly dim picture for a long-suffering, yet still fiercely devoted fan base, which, until 2013, had every reason to believe its team had suddenly, but finally, rediscovered the path to glory.
Burned in my brain are the years of the fast-escaping glow of the television screen as I pounded its power source into submission, at the conclusion of yet another faith-wringing defeat, only to set my alarm for the next morning, to hear nothing more than how you’d execute judgment.
Was this just an ordinary loss to a divisional foe? Or is it time to hang up our hats and bury our heads in the sand, until the familiar rumblings of offseason headlines begin to be heard in the world above?
When 6 a.m. rolled around, I’d roll over, engage my ears with my radio, fixating on every word like gospel, awaiting that moment of clarity to hit.
And while it was usually steeped in fandom, sometimes devoid of logic or reason, I knew I was listening to the most credible voice on the subject, because its tones were rooted in the same everlasting passion as my own, and many, many others.
It was the only thing that mattered that day.
I’m here to say we need you back, E.B.
We need our fearless leader back, now, more than ever.
The Redskins have followed up a season of renewed faith – and an offseason in which that belief was tried, but ultimately retained – with a season, that in retrospect should have been predictable, but has placed this team on a direct trajectory for failure, which will undoubtedly be punctuated by complete and utter chaos, and we need you.
This is not an open letter from a pseudo-journalist cast into a position of begrudging objectivity, but rather a plea from a fan, blind and wildly devoted – as much to you as to the Washington Redskins – to salvage your oft-misguided faith and reclaim your throne of subjectivity, in which only you can rightly sit.
While your decision to liberate yourself from the heartache – by detaching yourself from the emotions of the viewing experience – was personal, respected, and no less understandable, it has left many, including myself, feeling empty inside.
Simply put, when you speak, we listen; to whatever burdens may be pent-up in your soul.
We need your voice, blind and passionate, to guide us through the murky waters of Redskins’ fandom.
It is yours, but it is also uniquely ours.
The day after just doesn’t feel the same without it.