The gloomy crowd caught the attention of the players, too. When asked about getting booed by his own sparse crowd during a home opener, free-agent signing Adrian Peterson told reporters, “That was a new one for me. It was different.”

There are all sorts of ways to try and explain how an NFL team in one of the country’s biggest markets fails to fill its stadium for the first home game of the season—the high cost of tickets, traffic, worries about Hurricane Florence, the generally bad experience of attending a live NFL game—but none of them are as convincing as the most obvious one: this franchise stinks. Aside from Robert Griffin III’s rookie season, the Skins have been nothing but moribund and mismanaged for more than a decade, and not even a team with as much unearned mythology as Washington can go on cashing in on legacy forever. People in D.C. who want to have fun at a live sporting event simply have more and better options these days, and that means the Skins are going to go on playing in front of the sort of crowds you’d expect to find at a preseason game. Which is to say they’ll play in front the crowds they deserve.