This is a 21 part fictionalized story about my beloved football team's quest for the mythical Super Bowl Three-peat.
Chapter 3 - Print Media
My hangovers tend to have a life of their own. My kind of hangover won’t take yes for an answer, it makes my head feel like a hippopotamus slept on it, and the headache won’t go away until it sees that it is hopelessly surrounded by a half-dozen Tylenol tablets. The hangover didn’t help things the next morning when I was reminded of the invitation to the Redskins’ opening day brunch at the Willard Intercontinental to shake hands with some of Washington’s elite. Jack Kent Cooke arranged the brunch in a private dining room of the hotel.
The Big Three
As I had predicted, the big three of DC’s print media were there: The Washington Post, The Washington Tribune, and the USA Today. In attendance were mostly the higher-ups (CEOs and their drones), managing editors, publishers. I was the only writer, which surprised the higher-ups of the Tribune because none of them didn’t bother to mention this event to me.
“Mr Cooke asked me to come,” I told a managing editor dressed in his burial-at-sea outfit.
The other attendants were your usual congressmen, senators, joint chiefs, corporate execs, and law partners from firms that are entrench in DC like pubs in Ireland. I stayed long enough to have Jack see my presence, but before then, I was trapped into having to listen to the conversations of the print media:
A senior editor asked, “When’s the Clipper coming aboard?”
“Up to the Commodore,” said one of the drones. “The Brycer’s the man who unfurls the spinnaker.”
The Brycer spoke in, “We’ll tack for two or three weeks. I’ll let him find his way around the main deck. Jimbo runs a heck of a flotilla, but he’s earned another stripe, Fenton’s taking him to fleet.”
“Jimbo will be a tough skipper to follow,” said a senior editor, “but I think the Clipper can keep all of our oars in the water.”
I was the first to excuse myself from the dockside reunion, and after shaking Mr. Cooke’s hand, I told him that I had to leave early for the stadium to speak to the players and coaches. But he read through my pretense and told me that he was looking forward to reading my article. He had a limo arranged to take me to the stadium and back to my apartment at Adams Morgan. I asked if the limo was stocked.
“No,” he said, “But you can grab yourself a single-malt on your way out. Tell ‘em to put it on John Riggins’ tab.”
He would later explain that John would come to the Willard whenever he’s invited to a “mandatory” event. He’d drink himself to an oblivion and walk out on his check. By season’s end, he’d get an invoice from the hotel and Riggo would pay for it no questions asked.
Redskins Continue Dominance, 38-14
By Fidel Andrada
September 22 - With the Redskins ahead by 24 points midway through the fourth period, Coach Joe Gibbs was still running Joe Washington on end-around plays and sending Art Monk deep down the middle on fly patterns. Meanwhile, I’ve already made a reservation to the Old Ebbit Grill.
"I just didn't think we had it put away," Gibbs said after his team manhandled the Colts, 38-14, giving them their first loss this season. "We lost a game once (in college) when we pulled the starters too early. I didn't think we had things wrapped up until the last few minutes."
Gibbs recalls seeing too many erratic bounces and fluke plays from his first season as head coach to relax. But this game was over by the half, when the Redskins held a 28-7 lead over the team predicted to win their division this year.
"Get Your Mind on the Colts..."
Washington presented itself a 2-0 record, beating their last two opponents by at least 20 points. The Redskins have won seven straight games since last season. And going into next Sunday at Los Angeles, the undefeated Rams are showing to be a formidable top seed division team.
Indianapolis’ season is also promising. Their two game winning streak was predicted as they showed a lot of promise from their playoff appearance last year.
"This was a must win situation for us, really," said Redskin safety Tony Peters. "Indianapolis have also dominated their last two games. Last night, I was lying in bed thinking of other things and I said, 'Get your mind on the Colts or you'll be sorry.' "
The Redskins kept their minds on the Colts long enough to break away from a 7-7 first-quarter tie and scored on five straight possessions. Indianapolis’ second touchdown didn't come until Washington had built a 35-7 lead and most senior writers had left the press box, watching the rest of the quarter from the corporate suite for their free whiskey and finger-size cold cuts.
Redskin statistics against the Colts defense were impressive: 486 total yards, 27 first downs, 339 passing yards, and 143 on the ground.
Joe Theismann completed 23 of 36 passes for those 339 yards and two touchdowns. He ran eight yards on a quarterback draw for another touchdown. And I’m pretty sure he’s still talking about it to the custodial staff in the locker room.
The Kind of Game Receivers Love
Monk caught nine passes for 157 yards, a personal high for him, and one touchdown. Joe Washington, playing against his former teammates, ran for 77 yards and had five receptions for 61 more yards. John Riggins, despite a bad cold, rushed for 62 yards on only nine attempts and scored twice.
"We wanted to be aggressive," Gibbs said. "We figured we had to make things happen, we didn't want to sit back and wait. So we came out after them."
The Colts helped by blitzing on almost every early down, especially in the second half. Once the Redskins saw their receivers getting mainly single coverage, Gibbs reduced his running calls and ordered more deep passes.
As Monk said, it was the kind of game receivers love. "We like to make big catches and create some excitement. Going in, we thought we could do anything we wanted, as long as we played well, and we did."
Gibbs Still Worried about the Colts
If Washington receivers had not dropped a couple of those long attempts, the final score would have been even more lopsided. But Indianaoplis also will remember one muff as being particularly damaging.
That came with the Redskins ahead, 21-7, late in the second period. Theismann's pass down the left sideline from the Colts eight went into the hands of cornerback Larry “Paddle Hands” Braziel, who had open field ahead. Braziel juggled the ball for five steps, then dropped it.
"If I hadn't had gloves on, I would have caught it," Braziel said.
Instead, Washington kept possession. Two plays later, on third down with the first-half clock nearing expiration, Theismann waved off a play call from Gibbs and took the advice of center Jeff Bostic, who wondered if a quarterback draw might just work with the way the Colts have been attacking.
"Everyone from the Colts was trying to pinch in from the sides and the line thought they could open a hole up the middle for me," Theismann said. "But when the play started, the Colts ran a stunt and one guy came right in on me. I had to sidestep him, and get away from another, before I could get into the end zone."
Mark Moseley's extra point gave the Redskins a 21-point lead, the type of hurdle no opponent has yet to clear in the past two seasons.
Until then, Indianapolis offense had been able to pick up yardage. They had 191 total yards in the first half, including 148 passing by Bert Jones, who played despite a sore shoulder.
"That's what worried me," Gibbs said, explaining why he didn't replace Theismann with Bob Holly until 3:10 remained in the game. "The Colts can score so fast and their offense is so good. I kept seeing receivers fly by me all day."
The Redskins scored on the game's opening possession when Theismann found Charlie Brown open down the right sideline for a 38-yard touchdown completion. No Colt was within 10 yards of Brown; their free safety Reggie Pinkney had decided to double-cover Monk across the middle.
A 10-yard pass from Jones to Raymond Butler with 1:45 left in the quarter tied the game, but the Redskins regained the lead with a 78-yard drive that ended when Riggins scored from eight yards out.
"John was pretty sick," Gibbs said, "and we picked our spots with him. But he sure ran well. We just didn't want to push him too much."
Another Riggins scoring run, this one a tackle-breaking thrust of 14 yards, increased the advantage to 21-7. Then free safety Mark Murphy intercepted a tipped pass to set up the fourth Redskin touchdown of the half.
An artful leaping catch by Monk and a 38-yard Moseley field goal around another Colts touchdown pass finished the rout and, with the same speed, this article. I have to get to Old Ebbit.
Chapter 4: What to Wear in L.A. & the Rams
- My Tale of Perfection - V
Clean and simple, Washington dismantled a first-place team, making the Rams (3-1) seem as easy to beat as St. Louis, Dallas, or the Colts. To these Redskins, foils come in all shapes and sizes.