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Revisiting The 1982 “Strikeskins”
Greetings From The Booth!
Hard to believe, but we are rapidly heading into mid-season of the high school football schedule, as Fall comes in on cue this week with cooler weather. Soon, shorts will give way to long pants and fleece jackets, and hot chocolate and coffee will replace soda as you take your place under the Friday night lights around the area. At the (almost) midpoint of the season, the cream is starting to rise among area teams, and 2 remain undefeated: The Handley Judges and Central Falcons. All is not lost among the other schools, however, as these days even 3 wins can get you into the post-season. That is a conversation for another day. Enjoy your games this week!
In case you don’t remember, this is the week in 1982 that NFL games came to a screeching halt because of a players strike that would last 57 days. As a fan of the Washington Redskins, this was especially bad news. The year before, under new coach Joe Gibbs, the ‘Skins started 0-5 before ending the season 8-8, winning 8 of it’s last 11, and optimism was high going into 1982. Indeed, Washington started the season with a thrilling 37-34 win over Philly and a win over improving Tampa Bay 21-13 to start 2-0. But the dark cloud of a players strike loomed, and the season was halted on September 21, 1982.
While other players sat around doing little during the strike, something very different happened in Washington. Coaches were not allowed to have any contact with the players during the work stoppage, so ‘Skins quarterback Joe Theismann gathered the team together and organized unofficial practices, and the ‘Skins stayed sharp and unified. When the 2 month-old strike came to an end, Washington rolled through the 7-game amended regular season, losing only to the Cowboys while finishing 8-1.
The ‘Skins would get their revenge on hated Dallas. With running back John Riggins carrying the load through the 4-game playoff format, Washington would defeat Detroit and Minnesota at RFK, setting the stage for the 1982 NFC Championship Game with the Cowboys. With Riggo plowing for 140 yards and Daryl Grant’s iconic pick-six sealing the deal, Washington was on to the Super Bowl with a 31-17 win over Dallas!
In Super Bowl XVII against Miami, Riggins would put the exclamation point on one of the greatest postseasons ever by a running back with his now-famous 43-yard run that would give Washington the 27-17 win–the first of it’s 3 Lombardi trophies.
There are no asterisks in the NFL next to World Championships, but I still feel like the Redskins never got the love or respect they deserved for that 1982 season. Yes, there were fewer regular-season games, and the playoff format was a bit different, but because they were ready to play when most teams weren’t once the strike ended, the ‘Skins proved to be worthy champs. We’re they lucky? Maybe, but as the old saying goes, luck is a by-product of preparation.
Until the next visit from The Booth…HTTR!