There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Former Redskins great Gary Clark has invited you to a Redskins party that is too good to be true.
According to the party announcement, published last week on a Web site dedicated to promoting and selling tickets to the shindig, every Redskin from each of franchise’s three Super Bowl champion teams would be showing up for an all-day affair on Aug. 29 at RFK Stadium, the most hallowed grounds to fans of the burgundy and gold.
There would be an all-day party outside the stadium, billed as the “Ultimate Tailgate.” There would be “coaching clinics” taught by unnamed “NFL legends.”
And Chris Cooley, the current face of the franchise, would host the finals of a massive video-game tournament. A battle of the bands would be held outside the stadium.
A dinner gala, to honor Joe Gibbs and the “Gridiron Warriors” who led the Skins to the three Lombardi Trophies, would follow the tailgate inside the stadium, on the RFK grass where so much gloriousness took place.
Gibbs would be both the featured guest and a speaker at the dinner. Skins owner Dan Snyder would address the bash, also, giving his remarks “on the upcoming Redskins season.” Fans in attendance, which would number 20,000 according to the invite, would get a chance to ask questions of their heroes. The celebration would be capped off with a “Monte Carlo night” program after the dinner, where fans and guests of honor could commingle.
Ticket packages were advertised from $25 to $12,500 for what the invite dubs “the greatest sporting event ever held” in the city.
Proceeds from the fest, according to the Web site, would go to charity.
A diehard Skins fan would think they’d have to die and go to heaven to attend such a soiree. Well, they might be right: At least one of the scheduled attendees named in the invitation on the “Gala Roster of Gridiron Warriors” will be in a better place on Aug. 29.
Ex-Skins linebacker Mel Kaufman died of a heart ailment in February.
Snyder wasn’t planning on attending, either. “We have not been approached regarding this event,” says Redskins spokesperson Karl Swanson.
“There is no agreement to hold any such event here,” says Erik Moses, head of the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission, the quasi-governmental agency that operates RFK Stadium. “For anybody to say there is going to be [a party] here, that would be premature.”
Clark is among the most beloved players in franchise history. He wasn’t the biggest or the fastest, but he was the toughest receiver on the best Redskins squads of all time. He’d take the biggest shots and always get up, making him a perennial contender for the All-Madden teams, and gave the gaudiest touchdown celebrations. He made four Pro Bowls and caught TD passes in Super Bowls in 1988 and 1992, and his backpedaling dance across the end zone after scoring, fingers pointing to the crowd, provided thrills and chills for a generation of fans.
So the name “Gary Clark” still has clout around here. He’s also thrown smaller-scale Redskins reunions before: In February, he produced “Gary Clark’s Super Bowl XXVI Reunion Party!” at Velocity Five, a Falls Church bar. Cathy Porter, who helped Clark promote that bash and others in the past, says Clark went his own way in the Ultimate Tailgate planning.
According to sources with the Sports and Entertainment Commission, when Clark contacted the city agency earlier this year to talk about putting on a party inside and outside his old stomping grounds, folks listened.
But the bash described in Clark’s informal proposal, say the sources, was nothing like the massive, even-the-dead-will-show-up undertaking spelled out in Clark’s invitation.
And, regardless, no Redskins function of any sort was ever approved.
Sources in the agency say officials thought Clark had shelved his party plans until Washington City Paper contacted the commission last week to ask about the party invitation and ticket solicitations.
After the inquiries, the commission contacted Clark, and he started pulling down many pages on the party’s dedicated Web site (which is registered to Clark). Pages that promised speeches by Joe Gibbs and those requesting donations for as much $12,500 were removed.
Yet, as of this column’s deadline, tickets are still being offered on Clark’s web site for $25 to $75 for the party that, according to the folks who run the stadium where the shindig was allegedly going to happen, is not going to happen.
Sponsorships for the video-game tournament are also still being sought on Clark’s site. The ambition Clark has for his gamers gathering, which he’s dubbed the “Gridiron Legend Sports Bar Challenge,” is, like pretty much all of the plans detailed in the gala invitation, either admirable or foolhardy.
Clark describes a tournament where 32 or more unnamed bars around town would each pay $4,000 to sponsor their own three-day Madden NFL competition, each with 32 players, who would each pay $25 to participate. The tournament winner would get to meet Chris Cooley at the Ultimate Tailgate. Not quite as ambitious as the chance to meet Mel Kaufman, but, still.
And, again, the proceeds would go to a good cause. According to the invite, Clark and a group of unnamed “former Redskins” have formed a charity called Athletes Committed to Educational Success—which, by the way, isn’t registered in either D.C. or Virginia, as required by law. The mission statement of ACES, published on the tailgate/gridiron invite:
“This program is designed to provide a platform for our gridiron legends to mentor and train those future gridiron stars of tomorrow. Not only thru physical training, the sharing of game knowledge and trade secrets from true game experiences, but also by providing these future gridiron stars with the necessary educational tools, resources and educational personnel required to allow these special athletes to truly reach that next level of true greatness and completeness.”
Clark did not respond to phone calls or e-mails requesting comment.
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