There are certain abstract concepts that are tossed around in sports to define what happens on the field of play.
There's the term "chemistry" to explain how everyone is happy when a team is winning.
There's "choking," the notion that some athletes or teams can't come through in clutch situations.
I propose to introduce a new fuzzy description to explain a pattern of results in sports -- the "aura of self-destruction."
Some teams have an aura of deceit, like the New England Patriots. The Pittsburgh Steelers have an aura of toughness.
The Dallas Cowboys have an aura of self-destruction -- meaning that it seems no matter how talented they may appear to be or whatever they do, they are doomed to self-destruct.
They have arguably the most-talented young receiver in the game in Dez Bryant, but there is the perception that he is just as likely to help them lose a game as win it. They have a quarterback in Tony Romo, whose talent is overshadowed by his ability to find ways to lose.
It goes past the field, though. This aura exists in the team offices and beyond.
Exhibit A: A Cowboys fan is suing the team and owner Jerry Jones for negligence as a result of burns she received on her backside after allegedly sitting on a bench outside Cowboys Stadium in August 2010 while attending a Cowboys scrimmage.
You expect bad things to happen -- even the absurd -- because they're the Cowboys.
Now, the aura of self-destruction is not the same as self-destructive behavior. From what we know, Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman is not a self-destructive person. But when he steps on the football field, there is as much of an expectation of an interception as there is a touchdown -- the aura of self-destruction.
Don't get too chesty about the Cowboys' misery, Redskins fans -- Washington is engulfed in that same aura of self-destruction.
The examples of the Redskins' aura of self-destruction go back to the last gasp of their aura of excellence, following the 1991 Super Bowl championship. In 1992, their Super Bowl MVP quarterback, Mark Rypien, held out, as did their No . 1 pick in the draft, Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard.
Rypien was never the same quarterback. They found out Howard wasn't the player they had hoped for on the first day of training camp. And Joe Gibbs resigned following the 1992 season. The aura of self-destruction continued with Heath Shuler and reached epic proportions with the debacle of Albert Haynesworth.
And if you don't believe this aura still surrounds the team, please note: In two consecutive days last week, the Redskins lost unprecedented cases of former players filing for workers' compensation from injuries -- one of them a punter, Tom Tupa.
The only hope is that the aura of RGIII can trump it.