For all the havoc he’s wreaked, and will by all indications continue to wreak, on my Redskins, I guess I owe some thanks to Norv Turner. If it weren’t for him, I never would have met Boudreaux.
Around the time Turner came in from Dallas, a caller whose on-air handle was “Boudreaux From Northern Virginia” started showing up on local sports radio. He’d bash the Redskins, and particularly the coach, with breathless brutality and wit. Renunciations of Turner’s genius weren’t taken lightly by sycophantic media types and lemminglike fans in his first few years here, if you can believe that, so Boudreaux’s smart bombs, and the listeners’ and hosts’ reactions to them, dominated Redskins’ programming.
But, as quickly as he’d become a guerrilla star of the postgame shows, Boudreaux took himself off the air. I tried to get him to reconsider, but Boudreaux told me at the time he felt less like a watchdog than a cog in the media/industrial complex responsible for all the Skins propaganda. After hearing the owner referred to as “Mr.” Cooke one too many times, he no longer wanted to listen to the Redskins broadcasts, let alone play a significant role in them.
I held out hope that Boudreaux would dial back in, especially after Cooke passed on. True to his word, however, Boudreaux has refused to let his fingers do any walking for the better part of three years. But just because he was out of earshot doesn’t mean he was out of mind. And with training camp opening up in Frostburg this weekend, I couldn’t help but call him up and ask if he would mind narrowcasting any opinions about the franchise with me.
Three years’ worth of thoughts, by my count, and then some, came out. And they came out in a torrent even more splendid than the eloquence I recalled. So I just got out of the way and let Boudreaux remind me of what we’ve been missing since he went on hiatus. A sampling:
“Well, I think it’s neat that a local fan and a ticket-holder bought the Redskins. But for $800 million, all he got was the team, the stadium, and the practice facility; he didn’t get the crown jewel of this burgundy-and-gold setting, Miss Marlena. Miss Marlena is the owner’s box. I’d tell him: ‘You got shortchanged, Doogie Howser. You didn’t get all the marbles!’”
“I have a feeling this Snyder kid might be in over his head. I love it that he said he needed to acquire a high-impact player, and first the kid says he’ll get Deion Sanders. Then he says we’ll try for Barry Sanders. My guess is young Daniel will look like Col. Sanders before he wins a Super Bowl, because he didn’t come close to getting either of them.”
“None of the Redskins free agents work out, anyway. But of all of them, I love Dana Stubblefield best. I can hear him saying, ‘Football? You pay me $47 million…and you want me to play football? Mister, a man with that kind of money don’t play football!’ How can you pay somebody that much and expect him to play that kind of game, a hard game? I’ll never figure that out. You look at the high-paid guys on the team. Michael Westbrook, he’s the biggest mystery ever to come out of Boulder other than ‘Who killed JonBenet?’ The guy lines up for more snaps at the X-ray table than the line of scrimmage. And Tre Johnson, the fat bastard? I finally figured out what Tre stands for: three games played, and three games out.”
“And what about young Daniel repainting the training facility? He says he wants something in ‘must-win’ colors. So all of a sudden the newest rage in football X’s and O’s isn’t the West Coast offense, or the 3-4 defense, but [whether] you have enough Laura Ashley in your interior decorating. I can see it now: Pat Summerall and John Madden, third and long, game on the line. Pat: ‘Guess we’ll find out how good a paint job they got in their locker room, now, won’t we?’ There’s going to be a bunch of limp-wristed general managers at the next owners meeting, complaining to the league’s Competition Committee that Green Bay changed color schemes in their lavatories after getting league approval on hot pink and periwinkle. It’s sad for the Redskins. After spending $18 million for Heath Shuler, they come to find out all they needed was a couple pails of paint. Can you see Norv Turner’s postgame press conferences now? I mean, didn’t the guy have enough excuses for losing already? Now, he’s got a new one: ‘We could have won this game, but our locker room walls clashed with the ceiling tiles. I’ll get with the Duron rep in the off-season.’ It’s ridiculous. I mean, doesn’t Denver know they can paint their locker room, too?”
“And no matter how I try, I can’t stay away from Norv Turner. All talk about the Redskins comes to Norv Turner. He’s amazing. There’s so much to indict him as a sorry-ass coach, but all you really need to know about him is that interview he did with George Michaels in his first preseason, when he was asked if he’d stake his reputation on Heath Shuler becoming a starting quarterback in the NFL, and he said yes, and then Michaels asked him the same question again, and he said yes again. You’ve got to hold his feet to the fire on that! If you’re a stockbroker and you invest $18 million of somebody else’s money in a stock and it flops like Shuler flopped, they’ll have your ass before the Securities and Exchange Commission. But he’s always blaming somebody. President Kennedy plagiarized somebody when he said that victory has a thousand fathers and defeat is a bastard. Well, Norv Turner turned it around, and for him every defeat has a thousand fathers, but he doesn’t think his DNA had anything to do with that child. He won’t pay child support.
“And he still gets away with it! He’s like Custer’s horse, the only one who survived Little Big Horn. He got the Omega Man complex. But ever since young Daniel came in, Norv’s gotta be feeling like one of those cheerleaders at the top of a human pyramid. He’s looking down, and he’s seeing all the bodies being chipped away from beneath him. Now Norv’s got nobody’s back to jam his knees into anymore. The secretaries, the public relations man, they’re gone. Even Charley Casserly, D.C.’s second-most-famous intern, who also got fired for sucking on the job. Casserly pulled a deep oar in the boat that brought Norv Turner on board for the Redskins. But Turner goes to young Daniel, and he gets Casserly fired. Norv Turner must be like one of those barroom hypnotists, the guys that work in nightclubs and mesmerize everybody in the room at once. He’s got everybody hoodwinked. I don’t get it, though, that Casserly loses his job but is retained as a ‘consultant.’ Consultant? What does that make Norv Turner, the team’s insultant? I love it that all the newspaper stories about Turner, they’re still saying, ‘If he doesn’t win now, he’s in trouble.’ That’s the same thing they said about Milosevic!
“But your future’s in your past, so there’s no reason to think Norv Turner will start winning now. Coming soon, to a stadium near us: NFL Films presents its version of Titanic, with Norv Turner as the captain, the Redskins as the ship, and the 1999 schedule as the iceberg.”
Whew. I think I get the picture. Skins fans don’t have much to look forward to. But, I ask Boudreaux, couldn’t he at least end his radio silence and reprise his role as Anti-Fan?
“No, I can’t do it,” he tells me. “I don’t pay attention to the Redskins anymore…”—Dave McKenna