The Redskins reportage around these parts this summer could lead one to believe that next season’s Super Bowl is what fans of the home team should be focusing on. It would appear this year’s championship is already in the bag.
Maybe it’s time for a Boudreaux fix.
“The Redskins disgust me,” Boudreaux tells me.
That’s my boy.
I first met Boudreauxwho never reveals his real identityduring the 1994-1995 season. At the time, he was the guerrilla star of Redskins radio. Though the team was in the midst of a 3-13 campaign, most news outlets were intent on perpetuating the myths of Norv Turner, Offensive Genius, and his Can’t-Miss Kid, Heath Shuler. The burgundy-and-gold propaganda machine had one relentless adversary, however. It seemed as if every sports talk show that season attracted a caller identified only as “Boudreaux from Northern Virginia,” who would offer thoughtful, objective (and therefore scathing), and occasionally even poetic appraisals of the then-rookie head coach and his young quarterback. Boudreaux would invariably be cut off after quoting some 16th-century French philosopher, by way of accusing the talk-show hosts of being soulless shills for the Redskins. His influence on local sports radio that year was quite profound. As the losses piled up, other callers echoed Boudreaux’s assessments of Turner and Shuler, and many among the hoi polloi even took to quoting Boudreaux.
Subsequent seasons have proved Boudreaux a sageTurner’s posted a 42-53-1 mark in his six years in charge, and Shuler’s now selling real estate in Knoxville. It’s been a long time, however, since Boudreaux took to the airwaves. He realized that, although his ravings made for good radio, they ultimately didn’t blunt the propaganda that inspired them. And, after deciding he didn’t want to do anything to bring the propagandists a bigger audience, he stopped calling in.
He’s still, however, got all sorts of discouraging words. Over the weekend, I make what has become an annual call to Boudreaux, to get his take on the upcoming season. As I hoped, he’s ready to turn some sacred cows into so much beef jerky. Starting at the top:
“I don’t like Daniel Snyder,” Boudreaux says. “People forget how he backed into getting the Redskins, how he was teamed up with Howard Milstein, a roundly heralded world-class snake, but Snyder was quick to jettison Milstein once that guy’s locomotive ran off the track. But everybody should remember: That’s his lineage! He goes around with this attitude: ‘I spent $800 million for this team. Now everybody’s going to pay!’ There’s a toll-booth mentality to the team since he bought it. He charges for training camp, raises the price of tickets that were already the most expensive in the league, and puts a tariff on everything remotely connected or inferring the name Redskins. I was driving around the Beltway the other day and I was afraid to glance over at FedEx Field, because I didn’t want to get a bill from Snyder. When Daniel Snyder says Washington has the best fans, he must mean you can gouge them best. Shakespeare said some men are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. He left out the part that some buy greatness for $800 million.
“By paying so much for the team, he’s cheapened what it means to be a Redskins fan. Under Snyder, it means bending over and taking one for the owner. Now he’s trying to control pizza distribution along the I-95 corridor! I was going to order from Domino’s the other day, but now that Danny has switched to Papa John’s, I didn’t want to do anything that might jeopardize my spot on the waiting list for season tickets. I had a strange dream last night. I was at FedEx Field, watching the Redskins kick a game-winning field goal, and I looked down and Snyder’s got his hand in my pocket. It felt strangely appropriate. What does that mean?”
Boudreaux doesn’t endorse Snyder’s off-season strategy of compiling every ex-Pro Bowler on the free-agent market.
“If you had all these guys in 1992, you’d be going to the Super Bowl. This isn’t 1992. They’ve got 15 former No. 1 picks, five on the defensive line alone. They’ve also got four guys who were once first overall picks, and two of thoseJeff George and Irving Fryarwon’t start. These players, like the owner, have become bigger than the team, bigger than the game. I don’t like that, and in the end it’s not going to work.”
“I will say this for the guy: He knows how to pick a nickname,” Boudreaux says. “You look up ‘Neon’ in the dictionary, and you’ll see ‘a gaseous element that is used in display and television tubes.’ Is that him or what? As much as he says he doesn’t play football for the money and as much as he tells you how religious he is, I bet he doesn’t tithe as much to his church as he does to his tailor. I read in the paper the other day where a reporter asked him if he was ready to play and he said, ‘You don’t rush wine, and you don’t rush Prime.’ [Sanders also calls himself Prime Time.] From what I know, even prime wine will become distasteful if you don’t stick a cork in it. I still would like to know what Brian Mitchell did to get voted off the island.”
Boudreaux watched the Skins’ preseason finale against Pittsburgh on television. He wasn’t as annoyed by the level of play as he was by the level of play-by-play turned in by WRC’s preseason broadcast team. The propaganda machine, he says, was in overdrive.
“Those guys are a latter-day version of the monkeys who see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil,” Boudreaux says. “George Michael can’t say what he means, Sonny Jurgensen can’t possibly mean what he says, and Michael Wilbon can’t ever say anything meaningful. Don Corleone said anybody can be bought, and these fools are proof of that. I mean, I see a punt drop in front of Deion Sanders and roll dead, and then I have to hear each of these three stooges tell me the Steelers were ‘clearly kicking away from Deion.’ They’re all just building up the myth of Danny’s $56 million man! What the hell ever happened to journalistic integrity? What are all of these guys doing telling the fans how great Papa John’s pizza is, just because Domino’s no longer sponsors the Redskins? I thought advertisements had to be labeled advertisements! That may sound small, but I can’t tell you how disgusted I am by that, because it’s a symptom of what goes on in this town with that team!
“George Michael and Michael Wilbon may think they’re laughing all the way to the bank, but to cash Snyder’s check, they have to deposit their soul. My god, with his book deal [for an authorized Michael Jordan biography], how many payrolls is Wilbon on now? When Snyder bought the team, even he probably didn’t know the NBC affiliate and a Washington Post columnist were thrown in. As for Sonny Jurgensen, well, he’s enough to make you rethink the old maxim ‘There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.’ Ever since Anne Heche and Ellen Degeneres broke up, my favorite couple is Danny and Sonny. If I was Snyder’s proctologist, I’d have him insist that Jurgensen wear a nose guard.”
When I stop laughing, I tell Boudreaux how badly the local airwaves miss him, and, as I do each year, suggest that he should get back into calling sports talk shows. He, as always, tells me not to expect a return. But he doesn’t disagree that he served a worthy cause. “Somebody really should get equal time to give the opposing viewpoint when we hear all this crap about the Redskins,” he says. “But I felt like that Mel Gibson character in The Patriot, trying to advance the flag, even if you’re going to get killed doing it.” Dave McKenna