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With every exaltation of Steve Spurrier—NFL coaching record: 0-0—I’ve missed Boudreaux’s voice on the radio more.
For the unfamiliar: Early in the Norv Turner era, D.C. sports talk was dominated by a caller identified only as “Boudreaux from Northern Virginia.” Shortly after the kickoff of Turner’s first game, he forecast the Cowboys castoff as a loser. With similar sagacity, he instructed the audience to also disbelieve the hype about Can’t-Miss Kid Heath Shuler and Michael Westbrook, whom Boudreaux dubbed “the biggest mystery to come out of Boulder since ‘Who Killed JonBenet?’” His radio rants were more thoughtful than typical sports talk and often even enlightening—he linked current events to ancient philosophy and dropped Shakespearean couplets the way Westbrook dropped the thrown pigskin. But media types around these parts aren’t programmed to handle information that doesn’t champion the home team, so Boudreaux often got cut off in midtirade.
Yet each Turner loss and Shuler flub-up caused more listeners to acknowledge that it was Boudreaux, and not the homer hosts, who had seen the light. But he disappeared from the sports-talk scene as quickly as he’d emerged. Boudreaux (not his real name) says he gave up his unofficial Radio Free Washington duties once he realized that by railing against the propaganda machine, he was only bringing a bigger audience to it. The hype preceding Spurrier’s debut has already exceeded that which heralded Turner, but Boudreaux has no intention of reprising the anti-fan role on the call-in shows.
Even with his dialing days done, Boudreaux still reads the Redskins differently than the local media do. When I met up with him in a Falls Church tavern last week to watch the Skins-Patriots game, Boudreaux came ready to tear down the Tao of Steve.
So I just got out of the way and took it all in, like a radio listener.
“Like everything else with the Redskins, the hype about Steve Spurrier is so out of proportion to the reality,” he says. “I mean, OK, he won one NCAA championship. But doesn’t some coach win an NCAA championship every year? The fact is the guy couldn’t beat Florida State [lifetime record against the ‘Noles: 5-7-1] or Miami [0-1]. They say Steve Spurrier left college football for the pros because he was courted by Danny Snyder or because of that huge contract. He probably left because he didn’t like being the third-best coach in the state of Florida. But as soon as he comes to the NFL, he says Dallas is going to be his Georgia? Who’s he think he is, General William Tecumseh Sherman? Spurrier ain’t going to march through the NFL like it’s the end of the Civil War.
“And all I know about this ‘Fun and Gun’ is that, ultimately, most wars are won on the ground. All that stuff about his system being as complex as nuclear physics and only a Florida graduate with years of studying at the feet of the professor can handle it is pure bull. Knute Rockne had three plays. Joe Gibbs had about four. That’s all you need. First Norv Turner brought all the Dallas retreads here. Then Marty brought in all the ex-Chiefs. Now watching the Redskins is like watching a Gators alumni game. Any coach who has to bring in his own players is suspect. The great coaches take what they got and make it great. Lombardi and Gibbs and Parcells didn’t have great players. They made players great.
“I really don’t see how Steve Spurrier can last in the NFL. Head coaches have to be generic Stepford wives. Guys who show a personality, like Buddy Ryan and Sam Wyche and Jerry Glanville, get run out of the league now. I don’t think whiny Steve Spurrier will survive the NFL’s new millennium decorum.
“But for now, the media around here won’t say anything but ‘Steve Spurrier’s a genius.’ The fans around here just repeat what they’re told. Shakespeare said, ‘The miserable have no other medicine, but only hope.’ Hope is all that Redskins fans have, too. It has always amazed me how anybody with the Redskins is the greatest—until he’s fired. Then he was never any good to begin with. That’s the story of Desmond Howard, Heath Shuler, Michael Westbrook, and Norv Turner. Just the other day, Tony Kornheiser wrote how lousy Norv Turner was. Isn’t this the same guy who for five years wrote that Norv Turner was an offensive genius, the greatest offensive mind in the NFL, and how he was in the tank for Norv Turner? Now, he’ll tell you Norv Turner never was any good. So Steve Spurrier’s a genius now. But you watch: When he’s gone, everybody will write that he never was any good to begin with.
“It also amazes me that for 50 years we’ve heard all the experts tell us preseason NFL games mean nothing, but then along comes Spurrier, and now preseason games mean everything, just so long as you win them. It’s like the regular season is going to spoil everything by getting in the way of the preseason! I especially loved that Pittsburgh game, where dilapidated jalopy Sonny Jurgensen is telling Mr. Malapropism, George Michael, how meaningless preseason is as Pittsburgh builds up a 24-0 lead. Then Washington mounts a comeback, and by the fourth quarter, Frick and Frack are agreeing how important preseason is. Now the guy who quarterbacked the team during that comeback is with the Dolphins. But I guess they had to get rid of him: There’s no room for a Sage in the Redskins organization. Not with Little Danny Snyder running the show.
“I heard Steve Spurrier get on the microphone at FedEx a couple weeks ago and tell the fans, ‘This is your house! We are going to make noise and not let them win in your house!’ It’s our house? I don’t remember having to pay $180 to get into my house. I don’t have to pay $25 to park a mile away from my house. And I can walk into my house if I want to. That’s not my house. That’s Little Danny Snyder’s house. I still can’t believe Little Danny Snyder gets away with banning people from walking into that stadium. That’s pure greed. No pair of elevator shoes is big enough to make Little Danny stand tall in the NFL. I loved it last year when Little Danny gave away all those tickets to a preseason game to the sick children at Children’s Hospital. I could imagine all these kids at the hospital being so excited by getting to go to a Redskins game that like some great miracle, they throw away their crutches and they jump out of their wheelchairs! But there’s Little Danny telling them: ‘Sorry kids, no walking into the stadium!’
“Now Maryland has this Chinese snakehead fish that can walk on land. Boy, does that fish have a surprise coming if he tries walking near FedEx Field!
“I don’t know if Spurrier is a genius. But I like what Jonathan Swift said: ‘When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign: that the dunces are all in the confederacy against him.’ In this case, the dunces—Wilbon, Kornheiser, Jurgensen, Michael—are all in a confederacy for him. I’ll err on the side of Jonathan Swift.
“But I’m sure Steve Spurrier’s an OK guy. You got enough?”
Yeah, Boudreaux. I got enough. Let the season begin. —Dave McKenna