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“I’m not sold on Joe Gibbs,” Boudreaux tells me.
Ah, yes. The days are getting shorter. Leaves will soon be turning color and falling. And Boudreaux’s bashing—er, assessing—the Skins.
Boudreaux has been my go-to sage for all things burgundy and gold for about a decade, ever since a caller simply identified as “Boudreaux from Northern Virginia” began to dominate local sports-talk radio by savaging the home team.
The guy clearly took the Redskins very seriously. Not just the way the team played, though the caller could gab offensive schemes and X’s and O’s with the best. Boudreaux also used his time on the air to blast the way the Skins were covered by the local media, which he saw as nothing more than a marketing arm for the franchise. He stopped phoning into Skins radio programming once he realized that his calls, which routinely became the highlight of whatever show he dialed up, were only feeding the beast.
Though the calling has ceased, Boudreaux still has his opinions. For several years now, I’ve tracked him down around football season and goaded him into working up a radio-worthy rant about the late-model Skins. And, season after season, Boudreaux comes up big. His brutal assessments of Heath Shuler and Jeff George were spot-on and way ahead of the curve. Same with his brutal assessments of Norv Turner and Marty Schottenheimer and Steve Spurrier. And Deion Sanders and Dana Stubblefield. And, especially, Dan Snyder.
As the 2004 season opens this weekend, Boudreaux, like everybody else around here, is caught up in the Gibbs comeback. But, as I found out when I sat down with Boudreaux (which is not his real name) at the Silver Diner in Fairfax, his take is a little less glorious than the average Joe’s.
Here’s Boudreaux’s ’04 assessment:
“No need for me to counterbalance the hype: With Gibbs, the Redskins will be well-coached,” Boudreaux says. “The team will be extremely sound. They will be competent, efficient, heady. The on-field product will be quality—my word, they’ve got five quality-control coaches alone.
“But I really feel bad for Patrick Ramsey. He threw himself on Steve Spurrier’s grenade last year. And now he’s behind Mark Brunell? You have to remember that last year this is a guy who was beaten out by a rookie, Byron Leftwich, in Jacksonville. As far as I can tell, Brunell’s best attribute as a quarterback is being able to drive a car while his passenger is having a diabetic attack. That sure put Ramsey at a big disadvantage. He never got a chance to ‘Tony Stewart’ Gibbs to the hospital. Maybe Ramsey can hide Gibbs’ insulin on an away game and get another shot at starting.
“Clinton Portis is so good, but he can’t play without No. 26 on his jersey. For $40 million, you oughta be able to play with a decimal point on your jersey! I guess we should all be glad Sammy Baugh wasn’t No. 26. But now that he’s got No. 26, Portis says, ‘I feel like Superman now!’ I guess that means Iffy [Ohalete] was Jimmy Olsen. This whole thing is like a Marvel Comics comic book.
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“And what happened with that announcing team really bothers me. They get rid of Frank Herzog after 25 years for Larry Michael. Larry Michael is a lap dog. Larry Michael still wants you to believe that Norv Turner and Heath Shuler are the second coming of Weeb Ewbank and Johnny Unitas. But they got rid of Frank Herzog for him. Sam Huff and Sonny Jurgensen could have stepped up for Frank Herzog. Herzog sure saved them enough on air when they were starting out without any broadcasting experience at all.
“But no, these two phonies only nurture their own self-interest. Those two bozos have ridden Vince Lombardi like he was a 10-cent pony ride. Get this straight: Vince Lombardi’s middle linebacker was Ray Nitschke, and his quarterback was Bart Starr. Sonny Jurgensen has gotten more mileage out of an empty tank than Amelia Earhart. Frank Herzog fell to the same curse that gets everybody Sonny Jurgensen buddies up to—Gus Frerotte, Billy Kilmer, Glenn Brenner. I’m sure there are others. Anybody who gets close to Sonny Jurgensen has the life span of a 101st Airborne paratrooper at Normandy. That’s about three minutes. Know this about Sonny Jurgensen: The guy never lost a beer gut and never won a playoff game.
“And, folks, go get the game films: Jimmy Taylor and Jimmy Brown ran all over Sam Huff. Huff was mostly a product of playing in New York City at a time when New York was the media center for the country.
“But this year, I’m most interested in what brought Joe Gibbs back here. What’s behind that? And who’s going to be right: Thomas Wolfe or Joe Gibbs? When they all showed up for that press conference, all these old guys, Gibbs and Bugel and everybody were acting like they’d just gang-banged the homecoming queen. What’s with that giggle Joe Gibbs has got now? And Joe Bugel—well, Boss Hog is definitely off his Ritalin. The guy’s more excitable than Ben Affleck on his first sleepover with Jennifer Lopez. He’s looking like the Dennis Hopper character in Apocalypse Now.
“At some point you have to ask, What does it say about Joe Gibbs that he would align himself with a guy like Snyder? What does it say about Joe Gibbs that he would allow himself to be used like he has by Snyder to shaft the fans? [Redskins spokesman] Karl Swanson and Snyder keep saying that all those new seats that were added into the stadium are there to meet the demand of all the fans who want to come in and see Joe Gibbs. That’s using Joe Gibbs to shaft the fans! Snyder’s put in 300 new ‘dream seats.’ If you sit in them, you’ll be dreaming of a better seat. The only game you’ll see is in your dream.
“And those lower-level seats, ‘partially obscured,’ they call them? Those seats are right behind the main structural-support columns that hold up the stadium. Let me tell you this: If you sit and look at a support beam for four quarters, the Department of Homeland Security’s going to be after you. What’s your excuse going to be? ‘I was watching the game!’ Tom Ridge ain’t gonna buy that: ‘You weren’t watching the game! That’s impossible! You can’t even see the game from those seats!’ You’d be better off videotaping the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Anybody that would pay $70 to sit behind a main structural-support column has to be a terrorist. Or if he ain’t, Snyder will gouge him until he turns into one.
“And now Daniel Snyder’s trying to convince everybody the Six Flags amusement park is poorly managed, and that he’s the guy to fix it? Well, has anybody looked at how he’s managed his football team? Twelve years ago, Joe Gibbs left this franchise an admirable legacy. What does it say that the franchise had to go back 12 years to move forward? It says that the infrastructure of this team was so incompetent, and that Snyder had raped and pillaged the legacy that Gibbs built up to such a degree, that Snyder had to dig up this poor old geezer and bring him back. For $28 million, Joe Gibbs gladly let himself be dug up.
“That’s why I’m not sold on Gibbs: He’s too money-hungry and ambitious for me. It’s all over literature and philosophy, and it’s just true: You can’t have that much money without being tainted. One of my favorite Bible verses, Matthew 19:24, says, ‘It is easier for a camel to get through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to get in the Kingdom of God.’ Good luck game-planning that camel through the eye of a needle, Joe!”
Let the games begin…. —Dave McKenna