Washington City Paper announced Thursday that it will start publishing a weekly sports column from former Redskins official team blogger Matt Terl. As it happens, Thursday is also the fourth anniversary of Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder dropping his lawsuit against the alt-weekly and its former sportswriter Dave McKenna.
Terl, whose column is called “Unobstructed View,” made his City Paper debut with a piece that rips the team for benching Robert Griffin III, referring to them as a “floating funhouse built with cheap, crappy boards.”
Terl’s perspective on the franchise is vast. For three years, he was on Snyder’s payroll as a team blogger, covering everything from roster updates to weird, behind-the-scenes minutiae (his swan song post was about tight end Niles Paul’s Twitter review of Captain America: The First Avenger). He plans to approach “Unobstructed View” through the lens of a DC sports fan, which he defines, via an email to the Washingtonian, as “the ultimate optimist and the ultimate fatalist.”
“My fandom is pretty unique,” he says. “I’ve observed the team as a fan, a writer, and an employee, and each of those brings its own perspective.”
Terl’s hiring also marks a return to regular sports reporting for City Paper, which never quite found anyone to replace McKenna when he left the alt-weekly, and his column “Cheap Seats” (which covered Terl) behind in 2011. Since then, other things have changed. In 2012, City Paper decided to stop printing the word “Redskins,” choosing instead to refer to them as either the “Pigskins,” “Skins” or the “Washington football team.”
Terl admits that this will take some getting used to, and isn’t sure if he agrees with the style decision to begin with. Yet, he’s confident City Paper‘s stylebook choices won’t affect his column at all.
“I wonder if using a cutesy substitute name like ‘Pigskins’ doesn’t just duck the issue rather than calling repeated attention to the name,” says Terl. “But ultimately ‘Pigskins’ is house style, so that’s what I’ll be using. Other than that, I’ve got my own biases to wrestle with, and don’t worry much about the City Paper‘s.”
As the year continues on, Terl’s focus will extend beyond just the Redskins to other teams like the Wizards and the Capitals. “I just wanted to put his brain against DC sports and see what happens,” says City Paper Editor Steve Cavendish, over email. “I didn’t tell him that he had to burn any local institutions down, but if he wants to, I’ve got the kerosene and a good lawyer.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story said Matt Terl’s last Redskins blog post concerned Niles Paul’s Twitter review of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Paul in fact had written about Captain America: The First Avenger. Thanks to commenter jumpingtheshark for catching the error.