If fans of the Washington Redskins are looking for a rooting interest in the NFL playoffs, they should look about 32 miles to the north of FedEx Field to M&T Bank Stadium.
They should think purple.
Yes, Redskins fans should be rooting for the Baltimore Ravens to win the Super Bowl.
I know that the idea is anywhere from repulsive to uncomfortable to most. It's just not natural to want to root for the team from the neighboring city. It certainly doesn't feel right to me, although the feeling is more towards uneasy and less towards physically ill.
But Redskins fans should set aside such feelings out of pure self-interest.
Stick with me here. This is about Dan Snyder and the mix of insecurity, jealousy, and competitive fire that drives him.
Should the Ravens win the Super Bowl that will make two titles in the time that Snyder has owned the Redskins. Two titles in a period of time when Snyder's team has won a grand total of two playoff games. Two titles in a period of time during which anyone associated with Snyder's team would have to buy a ticket to attend so much as a conference championship game.
The Redskins owner clearly would be the owner of the inferior team in the region. It wouldn't even be debatable. Actually, it's not debatable that the Ravens are the superior team and organization right now, even if they were to lose to the Titans this weekend, but another championship would convince even those wearing glasses with lenses of the deepest shades of burgundy and gold of that fact.
It might even convince those with a vested interest in the way the Redskins do business to reconsider the way things work in Ashburn.
The Redskins and the Ravens couldn't be more different when it comes to football operations. Baltimore owner Steve Bisciotti offers encouragement and signs checks but otherwise stays out of the way. He lets Ozzie Newsome, his fine, talented general manager, draft the players and make the other player personnel decisions.
Snyder also offers encouragement and signs checks but he does not otherwise stay out of the way. While the extent of his involvement in player personnel decisions is unclear, the fact that he's involved at all is not good. Vinny Cerrato, one of the least talented and respected men in an NFL GM-type role, has some authority and that also is not good.
The Ravens, by and large, build through the draft and they build from the lines out. The Redskins think flashy skill players first and their plan for building consists of whatever seems like a good idea at the time.
The Ravens, in other words, have the traditional NFL setup and build in the traditional NFL way. The methods are traditional because they work.
Should there be a parade in downtown Baltimore in early February, Snyder would look up north with that mix of jealousy and desire to win. Steve Bisciotti holding up the Lombardi Trophy would be a life-altering moment for him. It would force him to take a serious look at the way he does things.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and Snyder would be loathe to flatter the Ravens by immediately restructuring the Redskins organization and revamping its philosophy. But certainly a Ravens title would be a hard nudge in that direction and that would be a positive development.