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For last decade or so, Redskins fans have endured a vicious cycle with very few certainties. Each year ushers in some new reason to believe, but by season’s end, fans swear they won’t get fooled again.
If that sounds painful, try being on the team. Chris Cooley and Santana Moss have been stuck right in the middle of it for most of their careers.
The pair has experienced the good – playoff runs in 2005 and 2007 – but also dealt with the drama and chaos that’s been so frequently associated with this franchise.
Four losing seasons, three head coaches, a handful of free agent busts and one tumultuous ride. Cooley and Moss have been through some nightmarish times yet they haven’t let that affect their commitment to the Redskins.
Now you get the sense the core of the offense is about to change. With Cooley set to miss the rest of the season, many have begun to wonder if his time in Washington is over. Moss signed a three-year contract over the summer, but he’s currently out with a broken hand and his best days are likely behind him.
Cooley had been incredibly positive throughout training camp as he sang the praises of the team’s new mentality and the revamped atmosphere in year two of Mike Shanahan.
And while there’s no question the team is in a better place in the grand scheme of things, they’re still not winning games and might not for another year or two.
By then, Cooley and Moss could be long gone.
It’s never easy saying goodbye to your stars especially the ones with such heart and passion for the game. Who can forget Moss’ emotional postgame comments after losing to Tampa Bay? In an era of diva receivers, Moss stands out as a hard worker who the Redskins will miss while he recovers.
“You all know that I hate not being out there,” he said “I feel like you let somebody down [when] you can’t go out with the guys that depend on you.”
John Beck has only been here for a year and a half, but he quickly discovered what every other starting quarterback has about Moss.
“Santana, he’s kind of been that guy, our go-to guy,” said John Beck. “So not to have him, we definitely have to have somebody step up and step up quick.”
Cooley was struggling to overcome nagging knee issues before he shattered his finger in a loss to the Eagles. The injuries combined to end his season and though he could be back, it’s evident he isn’t the same player.
Even if he never again produces at the rate he once did, Cooley is probably the second most popular Redskin of the past ten years behind Clinton Portis. In his prime, Cooley was as good on the field as he was goofy off it and that proved to be a winning combination.
However, the team has never achieved the personal success Cooley has. He undoubtedly would trade it all just to see the Redskins establish themselves as a powerhouse, and he told reporters over and over how this year he saw a real change in the direction of the franchise.
If he’s right, then fans can look back through the mediocrity and point to him and Moss as the forerunners to something great.
Who knows? With a little luck maybe they'll still be around.