“Give It To The Diesel”
Greetings from The Booth!
In this case, the scorer’s table at Shenandoah University’s Shingleton Gym, where this time of year you’ll find me doing the public address for Hornet men and women’s basketball. Before we get to Super Bowl 51, I have a small soapbox to climb on.
Last night at the SU men’s hoop game against Washington & Lee, I saw both the best and the worst of basketball wrapped up in one game. In the Hornet’s win over the Generals, there were stretches where the teams were racing up and down the floor, raining three-pointers, firing pinpoint passes, and playing excellent foul-free defense.
Then came the final few minutes. That’s when most basketball games bog down into a free-throw shooting contest that goes usually something like this: foul, free throws, time-out, foul, time-out, free throw, missed free throw, made basket, time out…you get the idea. It’s unwatchable. I get the strategy aspect of this, but it’s not fan-friendly hoop, and the last two minutes of a game takes sometimes a half-hour in real time to play.
My idea is this: if a team trails by more than 3 possessions (7 points or more) with under 2 minutes to go, a foul committed with the intent to stop the clock would be accompanied by a 10-second time runoff. The same would apply for a team trailing by more than 2 possessions with under a minute to play. Seems like an idea whose time has come, but I don’t think it’ll ever happen…
OK, let me climb down now and get to today’s title topic. I wrote a blog post recently about the first Super Bowl I remember (SB III), but my most memorable Big Game was Super Bowl XVII, between my beloved Washington Redskins and the Miami Dolphins, 2 teams who met earlier in SB VII. Memorable for a number of reasons.
A player’s strike shortened the 1982 season, and four-round a post-season tournament was added to make up for fewer regular season games. The Skins were a unified unit during the strike, and held their own workouts, unlike most teams. Thus, Washington was the most prepared when the season resumed. They went 8-1, and breezed through their playoff games, thanks to one John Riggins. Riggo, known as “The Diesel”, ran behind the famed Hog’s, and piled up yardage with each playoff game, becoming a legend in the process. His famous bow to the crowd at the end of the Minnesota playoff game further cemented his folk-hero status in DC.
The Super Bowl in Pasadena created mixed emotions for me. Although I am Burgundy & Gold through and through, I couldn’t help but be happy for my Martinsburg High baseball teammate Fulton Walker, who returned a kickoff for a TD that put Miami on top 17-10. Thanks, “Brother” Walker, for putting us on the map that day! RIP…
But my favorite memory is of the now iconic Riggins run into Super Bowl history, a 43 yard fourth-quarter gallop on 4th and 1 that put the Redskins in the lead for good. The run itself would be memorable on it’s own, but there’s more. I happened to be watching the game with a friend that afternoon, and seconds before Riggin’s legendary TD, her father said something like “That Riggins never breaks a big run.”
I think I spiked every sofa cushion on the floor, as Big John calmly flipped the ball to an official. Thanks Riggo! Your timing was impeccable, as always…
That’s it from the Booth! Enjoy the Super Bowl, and until next time, GO HORNETS!