Ah, the pitfalls of being a displaced fanbase. Having to occupy the native soil of an opposing team, especially one with obnoxious fans, is an everyday reality for Steelers fans outside the 'Burgh. D.C. is certainly no different. I know because I've spent most of my life in these parts. Even some members of my family are 'Skins fans. When I was in fifth grade, y'know - the last time the Redskins went to the Super Bowl, I had to attend an assembly where they tried to force everyone to sing "Hail to the Redskins." It haunts me still.
Naturally, it could much worse - our group could be stuck in the midden heap that is Bawlmer, as is a large and intrepid contingent of Steeler Nation. Sure, Redskins fans aren't anywhere nearly as annoying as Ravens followers, but they have a douchey bluster all their own. A pretty vocal bunch in preseason and after big-ticket free agent signings, the town typically quiets down in mid-November when the team has meekly collected its sixth or seventh loss.
The indispensable Dan Steinberg of WaPo's D.C. Sports Bog met up on Sunday (before Washington's embarrassing second half implosion against the Giants) with the most grating of the R(acist)skins' faithful, the Dead Tree Crew.
"Well, the origin is pretty simple," said The President, who gave me his real name, which I'm withholding, in the interest of not getting him fired from his job. "There was a dead tree--not quite that dead tree (pointing to a nearby dead tree) but one similar to it. It died, we always tailgated by it, people go, 'Hey go tailgate with those guys.' 'Which guys are those?' 'The ones that hang out by the dead tree.' 'Oh, you mean the Dead Tree Crew? We're like wow, that kind of works. That was a lot to say, so we shortened it to DTC."
And thus, history was made. The DTC hails largely from Sterling and Ashburn, in case you had bets on Waldorf and/or Manassas. Oh, and what happened to the original dead tree? "So many people urinated on it, it fell down," The President explained. "So that's the dead tree that we're living with right now. It's not the original, but it's holding strong." If you're like me, you might think that the fact that the DTC is now tailgating at a different spot, by a different tree, under a different colored parking sign would have disheartened the DTC. Not so.
The trappings of the Raljon, MD faithful continue to astound. The Mayor is fond of claiming DTC "runs FedEx Field," an overbuilt stadium with poor sightlines that requires a minimum three hours to get out of unless you leave before the game is over. Believe me, it's all yours, buddy.
Back in August, we took a trip to FedEx to see the Steelers/Redskins preseason game. I saw two Redskins fans fight each other two seats away from me and not get thrown out. It's a wondrous place. I posted about it here and it seems one DTC member took exception to us being at his stadium, leaving this comment:
Well, the DTC doesnt attend preseason games. But we will be there on Septepmber 9th. Please introduce yourself as the guy that talks ahit about us on multiple blogs and we will be sure show you what "scary" is.
Yeah, somehow, as a Steelers fan, I didn't feel too much like attending the 'Skins home opener against the Dolphins. I'm sure he found someone else at whom he could hurl homophobic slurs and pretend threats.