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ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — Chris Cooley has been all about the Washington Redskins and no other team in his NFL life. He played nine seasons, went to a couple of Pro Bowls, made his home in the D.C. area and now breaks down game film on the team-affiliated radio station.
And he's doing it during a historically bad time for the once-proud franchise.
"I hate my role right now, because of that," Cooley said. "I want to be honest with our fans, and I don't want to be negative towards our players or coaches or ownership, but I have a hard time being anything besides being honest. It would be so much fun if they would win. It's not fun. It's frustrating."
The Redskins (3-11) are lousy. No other way to say it. They've lost 19 of 22 games, a run of futility unmatched in team lore since the early 1960s. They ended last year with an eight-game losing streak and are on pace to do the same this year. Back-to-back 3-13 seasons would compare only to the 1960-61 years, when they went 1-9-2 and 1-12-1.
In January 2010, not long after Bruce Allen was hired as general manager, he said: "The status quo has to end. We have to change the way we've been doing some business. ... Last place two years in a row is not Redskins football."
Apparently, it is. Under Allen, the Redskins claimed the cellar of the NFC East in the 2010 and 2011 seasons, and again in 2013 and 2014. Their last-place slot this year was secured with Sunday's loss to the New York Giants.
When Dan Snyder first emerged as a potential buyer for the team in 1999, he told The Washington Post: "I miss winning." It was a fair assessment from a lifelong fan because there had been some lean years since the last of the three Super Bowl trophies was won in the early 1990s.
Snyder bought the team later that year. He's since overseen eight last-place finishes and a 107-147 record, tied for the fifth worst record in the NFL during that span. It would be fair to conclude that he still misses winning.
Some fans, at least the ones who still come to the games, are starting to wear bags on their heads, and they are quick to point out that Snyder is the one constant amid all the losing. There have been isolated moments of success in the last decade — playoffs in 2005, 2007 and 2012 — but expectations aren't what they used to be.
"I think this fan base would be fine with a competitive 7-9, 8-8 team," Cooley said. "My first couple of years here, it was always like 10, 11. Now it's 'Aw, we can win seven or eight.'"
The cumulative effect has worn on the usually even-keeled Santana Moss, the team's longest tenured player. Moss was ejected from Sunday's game when he argued a decision that overturned a touchdown after a replay review. His tirade represented a decade of going-nowhere frustration.
"It feels like every time we do something good, something bad comes out of it, and it's only been happening to us," Moss said after the game. "It's been 10 years of this, so I just got carried away."
Moss cited entitlement and inconsistency as two persistent Redskins themes. He said he's seen too many teammates over the years that played ahead of others who "probably were more worthy" — a comment that reinforces the Redskins-Snyder reputation of coddling to marquee names.
Moss has played for four coaches since he arrived in 2005, and with 10 starting quarterbacks. This year, first-year coach Jay Gruden has changed starting QBs five times.
"Coach is trying to win, but it hurts when you don't have a solid guy, and I've been through that all my career," Moss said. "Whenever you have to have that many changes, regardless of what you're trying to do and what you have out there, there's always going to be a hiccup, there's always going to be a crutch because you can't be successful with that many changes all the time."
Cooley said the culture of change has to, well, change.
"One thing that I think would be great moving forward is just at least for the team to believe in what we have, to have consistently and continuity, and give fans pieces that they can know will be here, and coaches that they know will be here," Cooley said. "And get away from this idea that we're going to fire a guy after one year, or trade a guy or cut a guy after one year, and start building from what we are — which is one of the worst teams in the league."
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