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They are here.
By "here," I refer to Bedford County and its immediate surrounding area.
By "they" I mean fans of the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants.
That trio, of course, represents the "axis of evil" as defined by fans of the Washington Redskins.
This area has, and always will be, Redskins country. You see, the NFL cuts up the United States into team-based zones. For instance, the state of Wisconsin is Packers country. The state of Minnesota (along with North and South Dakota, among others) is Vikings country.
The entire state of Virginia (as well as Maryland and parts of West Virginia and Delaware) is Redskins country.
What that means is those areas receive every one of their teams' games, except when blackout rules apply. The Skins last had a blackout (i.e. didn't sell out a home game) in 1965, so that's not much of a worry.
Logic dictates that if Bedford residents get to see every single Redskins game, there will be a lot of Redskins fans around here.
Throw in the fact that the team is geographically the closest to us and that it has been around forever (to institutionalize its fan base), and you would think that we'd be awash in a sea of burgundy and gold.
But that's not the case. While there are certainly a preponderance of 'Skins fans, there are still those that boldly fly their Cowboys, Eagles and Giants flags.
How can this be?
Well, you're probably thinking, "It's all of those outsiders that have moved here."
I suspect that explains a lot of it, but we certainly can't put the full blame at the feet of interlopers (yours truly among them).
There are plenty of native-born Bedfordites who cheer for teams that a) aren't the Redskins and b) are, in fact, the teams most despised by the Redskin Nation.
These rogues fall into one of two categories.
The first grouping is of those who came of age when one of the Redskins' rivals was doing well (and the 'Skins were in a downturn).
Think about this for a moment. Most kids adopt a team when they are anywhere from six to ten years of age. Many likely latch on to a team they see win the Super Bowl or some other major contest. Of course, many choose based on the team's colors or mascot or cheerleaders (well, the mature kids do, anyway).
Many others glom onto a team that they see as winners. So, I'm willing to bet that many of you Cowboys fans are in your late 20s or early 30s. That's because Dallas won three Super Bowls in the first half of the 1990s.
Similarly, I'd bet that many local Giants fans are in their mid-30s, having witnessed the G-Men winning the big game in 1987.
Such people are well-meaning, if misguided.
The second type of rogue is a real rebel. This type of fan is sticking his (or her) thumb in the eye of a person in a position of authority.
It is this fan who, at a young age, thought, "How can I really irk Dad? I've got it! I'll cheer for the one team he really doesn't like!"
For most, this was the height of their rebelliousness.
For many, this was also a grievous breach with the family patriarch.
I know there are some fathers who are fine with their kids, oh, dropping out of school to take up moonshine-running or eloping with an escapee from the local nursing home.
But these same fathers are completely intolerant of the fruit of their loins donning an Eli Manning jersey or affixing an Eagles magnet to the family minivan.
The smart ones, of course, let their rebellious progeny tinker with the idea of cheering for a Dallas or a New York. They know that if they tried to prevent Junior from becoming a fan of the enemy, it would result in the kid only digging in his heels more. They also know that, eventually, the kid will see things Dad's way.
On the other hand, it is the father who tries to nip fandom of other teams in the bud who winds up with egg on his face.
Indeed, the harder Dad tries, the worse it gets for him.
Worse, as in local youth taking on the likes of UNC or Florida State as their college teams. Scandalous!