Although the Washington Redskins didn’t have the worst record in the NFL this season (thanks, Rams and Colts), after another disappointing season fans and sports pundits are looking for a savior. And what better savior for a team that likes nothing better than to win the offseason than Peyton Manning?
After sitting out the entire 2011 season with a neck injury, Manning may become a free agent in the coming weeks, and rumors have already begun to circulate as to where he’ll end up. Falls Church resident Jim Johnson is leading a crusade of Skins fans who hope his destination is the District. (Well, Landover, Md., technically, but you know what we mean, unless you’re Marion Barry or Jack Evans.)
About two weeks ago, amid the pre-Super Bowl, post-season hoopla, Johnson started DCPetitionforPeyton.com and began tweeting from @PeytonToSkins, part of a virtual campaign to rally residents around the cause of bringing Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning’s bro to town. Although he only has 62 Twitter followers so far, Johnson isn’t giving up. (Washington Post sports columnist Sally Jenkins is on board, now, too!) So Washington City Paper spoke with Johnson to pick his brain about why Peyton would be the best fit at quarterback. This interview has been edited for length.
City Paper: It has been argued that no team needs a quarterback more than the Skins (two words: Rex Grossman), but why Peyton Manning?
Johnson: I think his experience and leadership skills are the most telling. I think the reasons why we need him. You just can’t teach leadership and those type of skills on a team.
WCP: What happens if Manning gets signed to the Redskins and then gets hurt?
Johnson: I think the best way to deal would be getting him and creating a team around him by picking up a top wide receiver, which is probably [Justin] Blackmon from Oklahoma State University.
And then another quarterback, a young quarterback in the 2nd or 3rd round. [Peyton] will probably be available—-I mean he’s turning 36 this year—-so he’ll probably be available for about three to four years. You always want to have a young quarterback behind you to learn. A lot of teams made the playoffs with rookie quarterbacks who were drafted in the 2nd and third round. We could certainly do that with him.
WCP: How did you feel about the Redskins’ season overall?
Johnson: Disappointed. They get off to a good start and then things just go south. Just the lack of leadership, I think they have good leadership on the defensive side of the ball but not on the offensive side. That’s something that bringing Peyton Manning would do.
WCP: Do you think the Redskins can afford him?
Johnson: I do. I read just a couple of days ago that’s he’s looking to do a performance based contract so that he gets payed based on how often he plays. so if he’s not playing he’s not getting payed as much, which I think would be a phenomenal thing. Trying to prove that he’s still able to play so that’s why he’s looking for a contract that is performance based, not just money up front.
WCP: How do you respond to your site/account’s many hecklers?
Johnson: I think everyone has their own opinion, it’s important to voice that opinion. I enjoy any dialogue about it, this is just how I feel about it. I think it’s important to express that. I don’t ignore them, I certainly respond to them.
WCP: How has the general response been to the website and twitter?
Johnson: Really good. I think a lot of people have been behind it, about 40-60. Forty percent for, 60 percent against. I think it has changed as things have become more clarified and Manning has been declared as healthy. I think it has shifted more to 50-50. The site has been up for two weeks
WCP: Perfect Redskins team?
Johnson: I wouldn’t bring on Kyle Orton or keep Rex Grossman, the whole team would just be any one who could support [Peyton]. Just look at the all-star teams that they have and all those guys.
Photo via PetitionforPeyton.com