Jerry McGuire was all over cable television this weekend -- perhaps the story of the conflicted sports agent was featured to celebrate the NFL playoffs -- and one scene in particular illustrated the life of a Washington Redskins fan.

Renee Zellweger and her impish son drop Tom Cruise off at the airport for the Super Bowl trip. As Cruise gets out of the car and heads inside the terminal, Zellweger -- a single mom -- and her son watch as happy families say goodbye to each other.

Zellweger and her son look around wistfully, wondering when, or if, they too will ever have a family moment like that.

Redskins fans have just suffered through another weekend of moments like that -- watching happy fans from afar celebrating the joy of winning and wondering when, or if, they too will have a fan moment like that again in their lifetime.

Some watched the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers, and wondered if they will ever experience the joy of being connected to one of football's great franchises in their lifetime.

If you were born after 1991 -- 20, yes, 20 years ago now -- you are one of those fans.

Weekends like this past one only serve to remind Redskins fans of a life others lead. And no matter what your age, it is a painful, consuming life when one year follows the next with no hope of being that happy couple at the airport.

If you were a Washington fan old enough to remember the 1980s, then you know how good it can be. There are few places that have experienced the three weeks of euphoria Washington did when the Redskins won three straight home playoff games in 1983 over the Lions, Vikings and hated Cowboys on their way to their first Super Bowl win.

It was the beginning of a decade of excellence, when your team was the standard others tried to be like. Fans from rival teams secretly envied the life of the Washington Redskins fans. When you've lived through that, it is so disheartening to watch others have those same experiences, knowing how good it can be and believing that pleasure is not within your grasp.

The only thing perhaps more painful is having been a Redskins fan post-1991 championship and having no point of reference of joy other than old stories and the occasional accidental playoff appearance (1999, 2005 and 2007 -- teases all of them).

Those fans fear they may never have a January filled with passion.

Following last year's 4-12 season and the two-year debacle under Jim Zorn, there existed at least for some Redskins fans the faith that the joy of January football was finally on the radar. The arrival of two-time Super Bowl-winning coach Mike Shananan and the trade for six-time Pro Bowl quarterback Donovan McNabb boosted a fanbase back to life.

Their faith was rewarded by the benching of McNabb and the tone-deafness displayed by Shanahan in his handling of McNabb and other issues. It hardly has generated any hope for the future. NFL playoff football means Redskins fans watching wistfully from a distance -- a lengthy distance.

Examiner columnist Thom Loverro is the co-host of "The Sports Fix" from noon to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on ESPN980 and Contact him at