City Paper is not for tourists
“Boudreau, my man, where are you?” pleaded former Skin and current WJFK (106.7 FM) host Jeff Bostic at the end of the postgame show that followed the Skins loss in the preseason finale at New England.
Bostic was referring to the reclusive ranter known only as “Boudreau from Northern Virginia,” a man with a mind as quick as Darrell Green’s feet and as deep as a Henry Ellard post pattern. Throughout the Skins’ dismal ’95 campaign, Boudreau phoned Bostic’s show and provided it with inspired observations and nuanced bashings of the home team. The on-air hosts and other callers spent most of their time either guessing who Boudreau would target for abuse when he called (which he did week after week after week), or reviewing his off-the-cuff but dead-on commentary after its delivery. The Boudreau-centric call-in segment became the most entertaining part of WJFK’s extensive Redskins coverage.
But when the entire 1996 preseason came and went without a single contact from their contributing (and unpaid) genius, the staff at the flagship station issued an all-points bulletin over the airwaves.
“We need you, Boudreau! Call us!” Bostic begged.
Bad news, Jeff: It’s not gonna happen.
“I’m done calling,” Boudreau told me over the weekend, in sincere, melancholy tones. I was only able to get in touch with Boudreau—which is not his real first, last, or middle name—because I star-69’d him after he called me last year for a story and I kept the number in my records. By last week it was pretty obvious WJFK staffers wish they’d done the same. Anyway, the most infamous anti-fan in the Redskins realm agreed to meet me in a Georgetown eatery only if his personal life was off-limits.
Boudreau said he’s retiring from his too-brief radio “career” because he in no way wanted to assist what he regards as the local media machine’s insistence on presenting a booster-ridden burgundy-and-gold version of the goings on at Redskin Park.
“I’m not going to call those guys because they’re all Stepford Children for Jack Kent Cooke, and I don’t want to be a part of that,” Boudreau explained. “If Jack Kent Cooke doesn’t tell all these people how to broadcast a game and what to say about the team, well, I’ll kiss your ass in a Macy’s window ’til we draw a crowd. This whole town, everybody in the media here, just grovels at his feet. Why the hell is he ‘Mr.’ Cooke? They don’t do that for anybody else in this town! Why the hell is that? I can’t tell you how mad that sort of thing makes me.”
He’s right. WJFK might as well change its handle to WJKC for Redskins games. In fact, that’s what put the bee in Boudreau’s bonnet to begin with. “A greater man than me once said that all it takes for tyrants to succeed in a time of moral crisis is for good men to say nothing. Norv Turner is a tyrant,” he declared last year, with equal parts sagacity and rage.
But over the course of the offseason, Boudreau realized that by venting his spleen on WJFK, he was actually bringing in a wider audience to the sanctioned Redskins broadcasts, and only making the enemy stronger. If he holds to his vow of abstinence, Bostic and his cronies won’t be the only losers. Pity the poor fans, many of whom are hungry for a shred of honest coverage about the underachieving Skins.
It’s not as if Boudreau has quit forming opinions since he entered radio silence. You don’t so much need to ask a question as just mention a topic to him, and in no time at all a minutiae-laden lecture flows forth like smoke from Susan Molinari’s hookah. For those who are in withdrawal, here’s a taste of my discussions with Boudreau about the state of the Redskins on the eve of the 1996 regular season. Since he’d already broken the crust with Cooke bashings, I started out my “cue-and-A” with Boudreau by asking him to expand on his views of the Redskins’ owner.
“Jack Kent Cooke makes me sick,” he railed. “He’s always talking about how much he loves ‘The Redskins family’ and everybody in the media here buys into it. What a load of crap that is! This is a business, and let’s not act like it’s anything else. Last year, I counted about 24 Redskins—former ‘family members’—playing well for other teams, and his former coaches are stuck all over the damn league. What the hell does he know about family? I’ll tell you what he knows: The very same week he paid $19 million to sign that shit-ass kid from Tennessee, he’s in a Loudoun County courtroom saying he’s not going to pay any more child support for his own daughter.”
You didn’t mention his wife, I said.
“My favorite ‘player’ in the whole Redskins family is Miss Marlena Pick-Your-Last-Name Chalmers-Romallo-Cooke, etc….She proved she can beat the bump-and-run and use a smoking-gun defense. She’s run a down and out, then showed she also has a beautiful comeback route. And she can go deep. She’s proven she’ll play all day and all night if that’s what it takes. From what she did in Georgetown, I thought we’d see her playing with the new Jaguars.
I love her! I mean,
wedding, instead of the bride throwing out the bouquet, she threw out her deportation papers!”
Then there’s the Redskins’ coach. “You want my definition of scary? That’s when you’re at home and you hear your doorbell and find Norv Turner at your front door, and he tells you, ‘Hi, I’m here to rebuild your house.’ Look what he’s done to this team! What was his last rebuilding job? The South Bronx? Every time I see Norv on the sideline at the end of a game where his team’s been knocked around again, wearing a baseball cap, I can’t get over how much he looks like Super Dave Osborne.”
And Heath Shuler? Surely, even Boudreau would feel a bit sorry for the rich second-teamer, right? Wrong.
“They put that shotgun formation in just for Heath. Well, think about that. I know a little bit about weapons, and you only give a shotgun to a hillbilly or somebody who can’t hit the target with a bullet. Heath tells the press that quarterbacks need the shotgun because when you drop back in the pocket, ‘your eyes bounce and you can’t see.’ I’m thinking, ‘Hey, Heathen, go tell that to Johnny Unitas and Joe Montana! Go tell them they need to go to a shotgun.’ Now we’ve all gotta hope that gorilla Benti rescues the little Heathen and plops his ass on the RFK loading dock for people from Tennessee to come pick up.”
“That kid came in and said he was going to be the ‘Michael Jordan of the NFL,’ but he never plays! Well, one thing I know about Jordan is that he sat out of basketball for a year-and-a-half. I guess that means Michael Westbrook is getting those one-and-a-half years…out of the way a little earlier in his career.”
At the end of our meeting, I implored Boudreau to rethink his decision to deprive local listeners of his views, but he said he wouldn’t. Whether he realizes it or not, there are signs that Boudreau has had an impact on the rank positivity that has long dominated coverage of the Redskins. At one point late in last Friday’s broadcast, Bostic, for the first time in memory, did a little banging on Norv Turner, who earlier in the week had emphasized how many of the Redskins’ losses during his tenure had come in close games. “A loss is a loss. That’s it. It makes no difference what the margin of the loss is. Norv Turner has to realize that,” Bostic fumed, quite uncharacteristically. Only Boudreau could have said it better.