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As we observe another celebration of the World’s Biggest One-Day Sporting Event this weekend with too much seven-layer dip and too many chicken drummies, it’s worth sitting down with the perspective that the Redskins won a Super Bowl only five years ago.
Then again, that may be a “little too much perspective,” as Nigel Tufnel of Spi¬nal Tap used to say.
Oh, I’ll probably go to a been-there-done-that party on Sunday, chuckle at the new Nike and Pepsi spots, and maybe pay attention to the Bud/Bud Light tilt. And yeah, I’ll even watch the Pats/Packers game, though only because I’ll have thrown a buck or two into one of those betting pools that only pop up at Super Bowl time. (You know, the random-chance kind of pool that keeps you watching no matter how lopsided the score or boring the play and invariably inspires at least one dumbass per party to observe that he’s only a missed extra point and a safety away from a payday.)
I don’t mind mismatches, but any game that involves New England, the only major sports team without allegiance to a single state or city, can’t be taken too seriously. Nobody, anywhere, really gives a damn about the Patriots. Proof? Well, the NFL decided willy-nilly a few weeks ago that the team’s “host” city was no longer Boston and announced that that role from now on belonged to hardly divine Providence. Beantowners didn’t exactly run to the harbor to throw tea when the ruling was handed down.
The Packers are as vital to the league’s legacy as the Pats are irrelevant. Like the New York Yankees or Montreal Canadiens or Boston Celtics, it’s all well and good that Green Bay should win championships, for the good of “the game.”
But I’m too bitter to worry about the good of
So I’ll spend this final football weekend looking back in anger, fuming about what’s happened to my Redskins. Just as I have the entire postseason.
It’s been real easy to be hard on the Skins watching the playoffs, what with Jacksonville and Charlottetwo teams that were unfertilized eggs when Norv Turner got heremaking the conference finals. Turner and Charley Casserly have gone to the media with their odd argument that the Jaguars’ and Panthers’ youth is actually an advantage because they have “all that money under the salary cap” to spend on free agents.
Unsaid, of course, is that the Redskins would have “all that money,” too, if only they hadn’t blown it on sorry draft picks and sorrier free agents. Not only did Heath Shuler take just one snap last year (that fumbled reverse against the 49ers), he also took the biggest chunk out of the Redskins’ cap fundin excess of $3 millionof any player.
Watching so many former Skins toil in the playoffs this year has been just as infuriating an exercise as thinking about the cards Casserly has held onto. To ease the pain, I threw together a squad of ex-Skins. The All-Maddening Team would be anchored by offensive linemen Raleigh McKenzie (Eagles), Mark Schlereth (Broncos), Matt Elliott (Panthers), Ray Brown (49ers), and Jimmie Johnson (Eagles), all of whom started for playoff teams and shame their counterparts on the current Redskins.
Behind that line, even ex-Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien (Eagles) would have time to find Mark Stock (Colts), Keenan McCardell (Jaguars), anddare I include him?Desmond Howard, the Packer’s return guy. Casserly gave up two first-round picks to get Howard and got nothing in return, either while Howard was a Redskin or when he was plucked in the expansion draft.
The All-Maddening defense features current Steeler Jumpy Geathers. The Redskins’ failure to pressure opposing quarterbacks singlehandedly cost the team most of its games in the second half of the seasonand Ron Lynn his job. Geathers is still a better pass rusher than any lineman now wearing burgundy and gold, and defensive back/special teams god Johnny Thomas (Eagles) is missed almost as dearly.
The coach of the All-Maddening team, of course, would be Joe Gibbs, smiling in the NBC booth week after week during the playoffs. Jack Kent Cooke promised everybody that the current Redskins coach would lead a team in the postseason, but he probably wasn’t thinking about the squad of collegians Turner tutored in the Senior Bowl last weekend. The only way for an NFL coach to land the Senior Bowl gig is to make sure his team stays out of the playoffs.
Turner has qualified every year since he got here.
Together with Dave Wannstedt and Dave Shula, Turner is part of the triple crown of young, much-ballyhooed former assistant coaches for the Dallas Cowboys under Jimmy Johnson. Though all were tagged as sure winners, they seem mere geldings next to the output of the Bill Walsh stable: Former 49er assistants Ray Rhodes, Mike Shanahan, Dennis Green, Dennis Holmgren, and George Seifert all made the playoffs this year.
In other words, Turner wasn’t bred to win. Given Cooke’s background in race horses, he should have spotted that. And maybe there’d be more for locals to do this weekend than contemplate finger foods.