There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
“That was our Super Bowl!” gushes Nadine Smith as she stands outside RFK Stadium an hour after the Redskins’ upset of the again-hated Dallas Cowboys. Every inch of her Lilliputian frame is covered in burgundy and/or gold.
“That was our Super Bowl!” echoes her equally diminutive—and similarly garbed—sibling, Adine Smith. They offer the exclamation after a brief session of fist-waving and screaming at the caravan of tour buses that is carrying the vanquished visiting players to the airport.
Those who know the Smith sisters should be anything but surprised to hear that they offered up the exact same epitaph for the afternoon’s proceedings. Adine and Nadine are identical twins, but they share more than physical likeness and a birthday. The Smith sisters also share the same address, nickname—individually (“Shorty”) and collectively (“The Twins”)—and craving for all things Redskin. Describing the monozygotic siblings as Redskins fans is like saying Bill Gates is well off.
“For the Twins, the Redskins are their whole lives, really,” says former Skins kicker Mark Moseley.
Adine and Nadine can’t rebut Moseley’s characterization of them as obsessive, at least not when their team of Davids has just stoned the reputedly Goliathan Cowboys. They’d arrived at the stadium three hours before kickoff, dressed in the same homemade cheerleader-type outfits with matching stitched-yarn fezzes and pom-poms. Some seven hours later, when they leave the locker room area and begin ambling toward the parking lot, the Smiths are in no hurry to head home.
“We’re going to go to the car and eat,” says Adine.
“We’ll go home and watch the highlights of the game,” says Nadine.
Even with efficient use of their time, there aren’t enough hours in a Sunday for the Twins to satiate their Redskins jones. Adine and Nadine might have to show up on Monday at Grevey’s in Falls Church for the James Washington radio show on WTEM, and at Petitbon’s in Fairfax on Tuesday to catch Ken Beatrice’s weekly football-centric remote broadcasts for WMAL, and on Friday at Fairfax Hospital to rally convalescing youngsters around the Redskins.
“We go to everything that has anything to do with the Redskins,” says Nadine.
And in the off-season?
“We have a little more free time then, but that’s when we watch videotapes of last year’s games,” says Adine.
The Twins also spend a good bit of time calling the talk shows to chat about the Redskins, and drafting letters to players, team management, and even news organizations requesting more or different coverage of the home team. Nadine’s latest letter-writing binge was aimed at getting the team to bring back Art Monk for a retirement ceremony. Earlier this year, she solicited and received letters from Monk and team owner Jack Kent Cooke, who praised her on the occasion of her own retirement after a career in the civil service.
When they’re running around together at team functions, the combination of their undersize stature—Adine is “the tall one” at 4-foot-6-and-a-half, Nadine a mere 4-foot-5—and over-the-top garb make the Smiths hard to not regard. And their presence is by now so routine at the football team’s fetes that when they do miss one, people get concerned.
“I walked onto the field before the Cardinals game at the start of this year, and I noticed that the Twins weren’t there,” recalls Moseley. “I’ve always seen them in the same place since when I first played for the Redskins, but they weren’t there. I got worried. I couldn’t believe they’d miss a game unless something was wrong.”
As it turns out, nothing was: On opening day, the sisters traveled to their native Wise in southwestern Virginia to attend the first-ever reunion of their elementary school class. (The Twins demurely decline to divulge what year that class graduated.) That was the first home game they’d missed “since the ’70s” says Nadine.
“We thought it would be a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” she explains. “We’d agreed to go before we knew we would miss a Redskins game. I was mad about it all weekend, and I’m still mad about it.”
Redskins fever isn’t anything new for the Smiths. But the self-described coal miner’s daughters didn’t know or care much about pro football in the early 1960s, when they moved together to D.C. in search of work. Adine soon fell in with a crowd that followed the local team, and she began hosting game-viewing parties for her peers that sound a lot like the affairs today’s kids throw for Melrose Place. Adine picked up the game’s nuances quickly, while Nadine forced herself to learn to love the game, and by extension, the Redskins, as a way of fitting in.
“I didn’t watch with everybody else at first because I didn’t know what was going on in football,” Nadine says. “But I decided I better learn after I got tired of staying in the kitchen during those parties and cooking and cleaning up while Adine and everybody else watched the Redskins. I could tell they were having a lot more fun than I was.”
Shortly after Sonny Jurgensen was traded to the Redskins, the Twins decided that just watching the games on television wasn’t enough of a thrill. Going to RFK became the thing to do. Then the Sunday-encompassing tailgating routine ensued. And always dressing in team colors. And showing up at every burgundy-and-gold function. And calling call-in shows. And writing letters. And, well, you name it.
Is it possible, the Twins are asked in the parking lot long after the Dallas game, that their Redskins fan shtick has gone a little too far?
“Oh, no!” says Adine. “There’s no way you can take it too far!”
“You can’t take it too far!” chimes in Nadine.
Shortly after saying that, the Twins spot Gus Frerotte driving slowly through the parking lot, and quash his attempt at a quarterback sneak around the hangers-on outside the locker room. They scurry up to his vehicle, get on tiptoe, stick a game program inside the cab, and request an autograph. Gus complies, and the sisters walk away feeling, oh, 5 feet tall.
Frerotte is far and away the Twins’ favorite among the current Redskins crop. So as far as they’re concerned, regardless of Heath Shuler’s health, there is no quarterback controversy.
“This isn’t like Sonny and Billy [Kilmer],” says Nadine.
During that quite contentious episode in Redskins history, Nadine threw her weight behind Sonny, and to this day she hasn’t totally forgiven Adine for advocating Kilmer for the coveted starting QB job. She has, however, come up with a theory that might explain why Adine didn’t side with her.
“I think Adine just liked being different,” says Nadine.