What does it mean to be a fan?
Does it mean investing yourself emotionally into a team and letting those emotions be your guide, logic be damned?
The Redskins face the Cowboys for the first time this season on Sunday. One of the historic rivalries of the NFL, it has lost some of its luster over the years, and the generational gap between fans who grew up watching the Redskins win Super Bowls and those who didn't is a huge contributing factor. That gap is widening.
"No," Paulsen said. "You wouldn't."
"I would," Rouhier insisted. "I would lose to the Bears and I would lose to the Titans if it means I could beat the Cowboys."
"That makes no sense, though," Paulsen said.
"It doesn't matter about making sense," Rouhier said. "It's that rivalry. And that's my point. It's engrained in so many of us because it was my parents and whatever else."
This notion of trading success against others for success against the Cowboys set the show on a collision course of ideology, pitting emotion vs. logic, a battle that cuts to the heart of fandom.
Paulsen rephrased the question: "The Redskins can go 10-6 and lose to the Cowboys both times. Or they can go 9-7 and beat the Cowboys twice, and at 10-6 they make the playoffs, and at 9-7 they do not. You're choosing beating the Cowboys and missing the playoffs?"
"Yes," Rouhier said. "Because that 10-6 team isn't going anywhere in all likelihood."
"Well that makes no sense," Paulsen reasoned.
"It's not about making sense and that's my point," Rouhier argued.
Paulsen: "That is a terrible bit."
Rouhier: "It's not. It's not a bit. It's a visceral reaction. That's the thing that you and younger fans don't understand."
Paulsen: "But that is a completely botched, warped prioritization."
Rouhier: "That's what fandom is."
Paulsen: "The entire point of this is to make the playoffs."
"There's a lot of takes that old people have that aren't right, if we're going back through history," Paulsen said.
"What I'm telling you, this isn't a take. This is a visceral, emotion-filled gut reaction about how much those evil pieces of you-know-what mean to me. Them going down is almost more fun than winning the game. I love watching them lose more than even I like to win."
"I am shocked," Paulsen said.
"You shouldn't be," Rouhier returned.
A caller in the next segment tried his hand at explaining fan emotion to Paulsen.
"Grant, are you without passion at all? Do you not understand rivalries?" said Matt in Reston. "Like it literally is driving me crazy that you do not understand hating someone so much that you will give anything to see them lose. I watch Dallas games just to see them lose. It doesn't matter who they play, I want them to burn. This is a passion. You're talking like you're without passion."
Grant made his final plea for sanity.
"I think that what makes us human is the ability to use our brains and process out emotion with information," he said. "I think that what makes us adults is the ability to say, 'Yeah, this is my emotional reaction to this, but I know that this is actually what is the case.'
"It's one thing to feel this way with my heart. It's another thing... my brain is telling me, because I'm a human and I'm an adult, that I'm not seven anymore and I can't pretend like something is that isn't. And so, to me, I'm not bothered or upset that people – 29 percent of them on Twitter or whoever's calling in now – that feel this way. God bless you. I mean, that is your prerogative. It is the equivalent to me, if we're having this debate right now, of like what is 2+2? And people are going, 'I can't believe you can't see that it's 3!' Like that's how I feel about this. And that's cool. If it's three to you, it's three to you, man. But I just... I can't do it. I can't get behind it."