Friday, September 8, 2006
Amid the din of politics, Redskins' fan cries: 'Stop Shuler!'
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- In the mountains of western North
Carolina, former NFL quarterback Heath Shuler talks about illegal
immigration and the Iraq war as he tries to oust Republican Rep.
Charles Taylor in one of the more competitive House races.
Thousands of miles away, in San Diego, Jason Woodmansee fears a
crucial issue is being overlooked.
"From an objective, quantitative viewpoint, Shuler was a
terrible NFL quarterback," Woodmansee writes on his blog,
www.StopShuler.com. "He completely failed at the one thing he was
trained to do out of college, and yet was paid millions of dollars.
The last thing we need in Washington is someone who gets paid a lot
of money to do a lousy job."
Don't go to Woodmansee's site if you want nuanced debate on the
candidates and their positions. He has only one thing on his mind:
Keeping the former Redskins quarterback from getting back to
"There are certainly former athletes that run for Congress or
office, happens all the time," Woodmansee said in a phone
interview from his home. "But there are very few who played in
Washington and would be returning. And there certainly haven't been
many cases where the person has failed in Washington and now wants
to go back.
"(You) don't want Shuler's stench of failure rubbing off on the
Shuler's campaign has followed Woodmansee's online campaign with
"He is a very fervent Redskins fan, and we applaud that kind of
devotion," Shuler spokesman Andrew Whalen said Friday. "My
fantasy team is especially hoping for a good season from (Redskins
running back) Clinton Portis."
The 34-year-old Woodmansee, a graduate of George Washington
University, was living in Washington in 1994 when the Redskins
selected Shuler with the third pick in the NFL draft. Shuler was
highly regarded, having finished second in voting for the Heisman
Trophy the previous year while at Tennessee.
The Redskins were just two years removed from a Super Bowl win,
and Dallas Cowboys coordinator Norv Turner had been hired to
succeed then-retired coach Joe Gibbs. As Woodmansee recalls, the
idea was that with Shuler, running back Stephen Davis and receiver
Michael Westbrook, Turner would duplicate the Troy Aikman-Emmitt
Smith-Michael Irvin trio that led the Cowboys to three Super Bowl
titles in the 1990s.
Instead, Shuler held out during his rookie training camp for a
big contract and played in only 19 games over the next three years,
with the Redskins winning just four.
So far, Woodmansee hasn't been impressed with the efforts by
Taylor, an eight-term Republican incumbent, to beat back Shuler's
challenge. So he decided to take matters into his own hands.
"(We) are sick of standing idly by while Taylor screws up this
campaign. If he is afraid to talk about the REAL issues in this
campaign, we aren't. Here is our TV ad," he wrote on the blog,
next to the first of his two anti-Shuler "attack ads."
With the requisite ominous music and voiceover and grainy
black-and-white photos, the ads -- which Woodmansee also posted on
YouTube.com -- are pitch-perfect satires of a dark political art.
They've helped draw attention to his site, which Woodmansee says
"is obviously a joke."
"The ads are very funny, and Heath had a good laugh at them,"
Now living in San Diego, where he works for Digitaria, an
interactive ad agency, Woodmansee is a Democrat and recognizes that
a Shuler win over Taylor could help Democrats take control of the
But he places Redskins loyalty ahead of party loyalty.
In the end, whether Democrats or Republicans control the House
doesn't matter, he said. "The really important thing is football.
A Redskins Super Bowl vs. a Democratic Congress? That's not really
that hard of a choice."
On the Web:
Stop Shuler: http://www.stopshuler.com
Shuler's campaign site: http://www.heathshuler.com