The Future Is Now!

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Greetings from The Booth!

Today is Selection Sunday, one of the most exciting days in sports if your college basketball team is going dancin’ (or you think they should be) in the NCAA Basketball Tournament. And most of us will fill out our brackets tomorrow and get ready for wall-to-wall basketball in the coming weeks. We’ll probably talk about that next week, but today I want to get away from college hoop and remember a glorious time to be a Washington Redskins fan.

The last few weeks have seen a bevy of personnel moves by new Washington Commanders’ General Manager Adam Peters. Peters has taken advantage of a surplus of salary cap money and brought to DC the likes of future Hall-Of-Famer Bobby Wagner, exciting linebacker Frankie Luvu, quarterback Marcus Mariota, and others who will dramatically transform this long-sorry franchise into potential playoff contenders as soon as next season.

We all know about the glory days of Joe Gibbs and Bobby Beathard, and what transpired with that great Coach-GM combo. But I want to go back even farther than that, because what happened this past 10 days with the Commanders reminded me of 1971.

In 1969, the great Vince Lombardi came to Washington and gave Redskins fans an all-too-brief glimpse of what could be. In his first and only season in DC, Lombardi molded the team into a unit that went 7-5-2, their first winning season in 14 years. There was much anticipation about the 1970 season, as things could only get better under the legendary “St. Vince.” Sadly, Lombardi would be diagnosed with cancer and pass away before getting to coach the 1970 season.

That season was a lost one, as the ‘Skins fell back into their losing ways. Shortly after that 6-8 campaign, George Allen was announced as the team’s new Head Coach and GM. Asked about his coaching philosophy, Allen would say famously, “the future is now,” and would proceed to trade away most of the Redskins’ draft choices in return for proven players, many of who were thought to be past their prime. Allen, a defensive-minded coach, brought in veterans like Jack Pardee, Myron Pottios, Richie Pettibon, Ron McDole, Verlon Biggs, and Diron Talbert, players that would turn the Washington defense from laughing stock into one of the NFL’s best.

Offensively, Allen brought in Billy Kilmer to backup Sonny Jurgensen, and it would be one of his best moves. Kilmer, once an agile, running-style quarterback, was now a potbellied journeyman who threw wobbly passes, but had something Allen loved–a fierce desire to win and an inner fire that burned to silence his critics. Kilmer would do just that over and over again in his time with the Redskins.

After an initial 9-4-1 season in 1971 , the “Over The Hill Gang” would post an 11-3 record and NFC East Championship in 1972, with Kilmer throwing 2 TD passes against the hated Cowboys in the title game at RFK Stadium. Over the next few seasons, Allen’s players would eventually get too old and Washington would have no draft choices to replace them with, but for a city starved for winning, that brief time would be a glorious one.

Fast forward to this week, and it indeed feels like “the future is now.”

Until the next visit from The Booth…HTTR!

RW