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Every year about this time, I try to hook up with Boudreaux to ask him what he thinks of the Redskins.
Actually, I pretty much know what he thinks of the Redskins by now. I became aware of Boudreaux several years ago, after hearing him brilliantly and brutally bash the team during calls to local sports radio. Norv Turner, mislabeled a genius in his first year of coaching the team, took the heaviest hits from a frequent caller identified as “Boudreaux from Northern Virginia.” At the time, talk-show hosts and even other callers were as loath to rail against Turner or anything burgundy and gold as current green-card holders are to bash the Patriot Act. But history has proved every hypernegative first impression Boudreaux (which is not his real first or last name) put out over the airwaves about Heath Shuler, Michael Westbrook, and poor Turner to be dead-on.
He stopped calling in to radio shows a while back, but I’ve made a point of seeking him out around opening day of each NFL season to hear what I know will be a thoughtfully negative assessment of the home squad. A few weeks ago, I took him out to Redskins Park in Ashburn to catch the last day of training camp and get an earful about this year’s model.
When he got out of the car at the rural practice facility, Boudreaux took a moment “to remember all those lost souls who landed on this beach before us, all the people who in 2000 were gouged here by Daniel Snyder for $10 parking and $10 to get in.”
“I think it’s great that Redskins Park is right down the street from the headquarters of MCI,” he added. “So in the same neighborhood, we have simply wireless and simply clueless.”
Snyder has replaced Turner as Boudreaux’s go-to bashee. The sight of a set of cushy chairs, placed at midfield so the owner wouldn’t have to brush up against the team’s fans while watching his minions go through their paces, set off Boudreaux’s rant gland. Just as I’d hoped.
“I can’t stand Daniel Snyder,” he said. “Those chairs don’t belong on a football field. When Little Danny sits in them, smoking a cigar, he looks like Michael Corleone sitting in the boathouse on Lake Tahoe in Godfather II. Every year he comes back and tells everybody he’s learned from his mistakes, and the newspapers all print that. It’s like Baghdad Bob, the Iraqi minister of information, has taken a job with the Redskins. What has Daniel Snyder learned? He keeps repeating everything he’s done that didn’t work. This year, he again went out and spent more money than everybody else on big-name players. Which reminds me: Don’t the NFL bylaws prohibit an owner from buying more than one team? So why’d they let Daniel Snyder buy the Jets? Maybe he realizes that’s the only way he’s going to win a Super Bowl: He’s got to buy up every other team. There’s this Burmese proverb that I love: ‘If you take big paces, you leave big spaces.’ That’s Daniel Snyder: He overspent to bring some speed in, but he left glowing gaps on other parts of the team. What has he learned? He’s changed training camp every year; from Frostburg to here to Carlisle to here again. He’s had four head coaches. He’s had five defensive coordinators and I don’t know how many general managers or kickers. What has he learned? My favorite plays from the Super Bowl last year were former Redskin Brad Johnson throwing [two] touchdown passes to former Redskin Keenan McCardell. The Redskins are like Madonna: The team reinvents itself every year. Only Daniel Snyder reinvents the team with the same old thing that didn’t work in the first place. He’s hired and replaced Joe Mendes twice. He’s hired Vinny Cerrato twice. He’s brought in kicker Brett Conway and fired him and brought him back and fired him again. He cut Tre Johnson and brought him back. Johnson was cut again this week. He brought in Danny Wuerffel and cut him and brought him back. And now he’s back at Redskins Park for training camp. What has Daniel Snyder learned? My favorite part about this season is the new parking arrangements on game day Sunday, where now we have to park at the Jericho City of Praise Church. So much for keeping the money changers out of the temple on the Sabbath. In Casablanca, Humphrey Bogart said, ‘Of all the gin joints in all the towns in the world, she walks into mine.’ Redskins fans gotta be feeling the same way by now: Of all the teams in all the towns in the NFL, Daniel Snyder walks into mine. I can’t believe that I feel like the Dixie Chicks: We’re ‘ashamed’ Daniel Snyder’s from here.”
Boudreaux predicted that holding training camp at the team’s regular practice facility will, like most moves Snyder has made since taking over in 1999, pay no dividends
at least on the field. “Maybe it’s because I’ve read too much about Vince Lombardi and Bear Bryant, but I really think it’s a big mistake to have camp here,” he says. “A Spartan training camp away from the comforts of home is a tradition. It bonds and prepares the team for what will be the demanding and hopefully 20-week campaign ahead. But this is the opposite of the The Junction Boys. As usual, I’m sure it’s about the money. I guess it was cheaper for Daniel Snyder to stay here: He doesn’t have to hire a helicopter to get to camp now. Good thing Daniel Snyder isn’t commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps. He’d move Parris Island to Bethesda. Its like, ‘Join the Navy and see the world! Join the Army and be all you can be! Join the U.S. Marines and be among the few and the proud! Join the Redskins and sleep in your own bed every night! And be home for the holidays!’”
Just as he never bought the genius tag foisted on Turner, Boudreaux has yet to discern Steve Spurrier’s alleged sagacity. “Spurrier is the only coach in the NFL who Stephen Davis is not good enough for,” says Boudreaux. “Stephen Davis was the most durable, productive young running back the team ever had and was on the verge of breaking all the Redskins rushing records. But he didn’t fit into Steve Spurrier’s system. I don’t want to hear Stephen Davis was too expensive, because the Redskins just set NFL records for spending this off-season. So now Spurrier has a bona fide Lamborghini wideout in Laveranues Coles. He’s got an All-Pro offensive guard and the strongest man in the NFL. He’s got a world-class kicker built like a linebacker in John Hall. I can’t wait to hear Steve Spurrier’s excuses when they don’t win this year. Spurrier logged more off-season hours on the golf course than every other coach in the NFC East combined. So I can guarantee you this: If the Redskins don’t win, it won’t be because of Steve Spurrier’s golf game. Everybody keeps saying, ‘The jury’s still out on Steve Spurrier.’ Well, I’ve got a feeling the jury’s about to file in now. All 16 of ’em.”
Boudreaux, meanwhile, has delivered his verdict on the NFL’s season-opening bash on the National Mall, featuring Britney Spears. The league has partnered with the Pentagon for the event, which will take place on the night of the
Redskins-Jets opening game. Under the agreement, the Department of Defense, under the guise of something called “Operation Tribute to Freedom,” actually solicited soldiers to wear their “desert battle-dress uniforms.” The first 5,000 soldiers to show up in war garb will be put at the front of the stage.
“What the hell does that have to do with football?” he says. “You got Britney Spears exploiting sex on one end, and then you’ve got the soldiers being exploited to boost the Redskins and the NFL. I can’t believe they’re telling soldiers to show up in their uniforms. Am I less of a soldier if I don’t have a uniform on? What sort of hollow patriotism is that? The whole thing reeks and stinks. You don’t have a damn celebration and parade those soldiers in front of people while boys are dying every day….You don’t honor soldiers by making them come to your concert in uniform. If the government really wants to honor our troops, then bring them all home. Then we can all have a celebration. You really want to honor our troops, Paul Tagliabue? Then you can cancel an NFL game for every kid that’s killed in Iraq. This is nothing to celebrate. I hate this more than I can say. But I’ll tell you this, it ain’t about football anymore.”
Let the games begin. Dave McKenna