If you happened to be sitting in FedExField's lower bowl last Thursday night for the preseason finale between the Redskins and Jaguars, well, scratch that. If you happened to be anywhere in FedExField Thursday night, you very likely heard one fan screaming above them all.
This is not as close to exaggeration as you might think.
In a relatively meaningless game (in terms of the final outcome), Shirlene Miller of southeast Washington, D.C., sitting several rows in front of the press box, was yelling her lungs out like the team was in a playoff game, like it was the only way to stay warm.
Except that it was a muggy, early September night and, at this point in the season, her shouts of joy watching third stringers battle against each other was either a way to get attention or a level of extreme fandom known by very few. Once you speak with her, and simultaneously cover your ears, you know this is not a gimmick.
"Sixty-one years of Redskins!" she shouted. "I've been a lifelong fan since my brothers taught me how to yell."
They taught her well.
Miller's son, laughing the entire time behind his mother getting interviewed, tried to explain that she was not crazy, "just crazy about the Skins." Though, that delineation is usually hard to see during football season.
Miller works at Medstar Washington Hospital Center, where she tends to patients who are recovering from open-heart surgery. "This," she says of screaming about her Redskins, "is my outlet."
"When I get to work in the morning, I'm like, 'Oh, God, I can't talk.'" Miller said. "It's very stressful. When you have open-heart surgery that's a new life on your body, you almost have a new heart. The way we get new transplants, which are very, very important to us, we take care of them and we heal [patients] and let them go back out into the world and [they] have a real life without problems."
Thursday was Miller's first game of the season, but she's been attending games since she was a kid. Her whole extended family are Redskins fans, except for her nephew. He lives in Dallas and has adopted the Cowboys. "He's a Dallas Dumbo," she calls him.
"I love the men with the big muscles," Miller said, elaborating on her love for football. "The running backs are my favorite. Alfred Morris is on my list. But we've got a new one coming out, No. 30 [Matt Jones]. I'm crazy about him. That boy can drag all the men. He's like Riggo."
Miller wore a Robert Griffin III jersey but isn't too concerned with him recently taking the backup position.
"All we want is for somebody to get the job done," she said. "I love them all. They're great. But if we don't get the pass protection, we're not going to get nothing."
At this point, midway through the third quarter, Miller's voice showed signs of straining and cracking, understandable symptoms for a woman screaming for more than a half of a game. You could say this was preseason for her larynx.
"I'll be hoarse in the morning," she laughed.