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

 

Talkin’ WFT-Cowboys

For this Sports Dogs Podcast we pull Scott Bradley out of the bullpen and talk about Christmas vacation (not the movie), and the renewal this Sunday of an NFL rivalry that started in the early 70s with George Allen. The Dallas Cowboys march into Fed-Ex Field Sunday to take on the Washington Football Team in a game that has some relevance. Enjoy this latest edition of the SDPC and HTTWFT! RW

We Want Dallas!

Greetings from The Booth!

Let’s start with congrats to the Shenandoah University Men’s Basketball team, who are now 2-0 at the Wilkins Center after an 81-71 win against Ferrum last Saturday. In the last several seasons, wins for the guys have been few and far between, so it was nice to see them having fun and getting the “W.” I’m not sure what kind of springboard that victory will be, but on Saturday, something seemed to click. Kudos also to junior Jaylen Williams, who was named as the ODAC Player Of The Week, and is currently leading the league in scoring. Williams is fun to watch, and can score inside and outside. He is worth the price of admission. If anyone is deserving of some good fortune, it’s Head Coach Adam Walsh; let’s hope Santa brings him some the rest of the season.

Well, it’s Dallas Week for the Washington Football Team, as the Cowboys visit Fed-Ex Field this Sunday in an NFC East showdown. Dallas Week has lost a lot of it’s luster over the last 30 years as Dallas has just 3 playoff wins since winning their last Super Bowl in 1996, and Washington has just 3 post-season victories since their last Super Bowl win in 1992. Relevant games between the two teams have been scarce.

Sunday’s contest has some relevance. Washington, left for dead at 2-6, has reeled off 4 consecutive wins since their bye week and with a win against the Cowboys, would pull to within one game of the division lead, with control of their own destiny. A loss to Dallas, and The Football Team will probably have to set their sights on a Wild Card berth, still a very real possibility. So, with at least something to play for on Sunday, I thought I’d go back into the time machine for my top 3 memorable Washington-Dallas games. Enjoy, and feel free to send us yours.

3. Houston Corrals Garrison. Coming off their very first Super Bowl appearance in the 1972 season, the then-Redskins met the hated Cowboys on Monday Night Football October 8th, 1973 at RFK Stadium. The ‘Boys were 3-0, while the ‘Skins were 2-1, so it was a must win for the “Over The Hill Gang” in the nationally-televised affair. In a tight defensive battle, Dallas held a 7-0 lead well into the 4th quarter. I remember going to bed (there was school the next day) and listening to the radio broadcast, hoping against hope that Washington could find a way. Late in the contest, Sonny Jurgensen threw a short TD pass to tie things at 7, and on the next Dallas possession, Brig Owens sent the RFK crowd into a frenzy with a pick-6 touchdown for a 14-7 lead. Dallas was not finished as they drove deep into ‘Skins territory. On a 4th and goal, Dallas running back Walt Garrison caught a pass and headed for the tying score, when Washington’s Ken Houston grabbed Garrison and held him inches from the goal line to preserve the win. Sleep deprivation never felt so good!

2. December 31, 1972. George Allen’s Redskins, the aforementioned “Over The Hill Gang,” a collection of aging veterans and castoffs from other teams, finished the regular season 11-3, and after beating the Packers in the opening round of the playoffs, found themselves hosting the Cowboys for the NFC Championship in front of 55-thousand rabid fans as 1972 came to a close. After an early Dallas field goal, Washington QB Billy Kilmer found Charley Taylor for 2 touchdown passes, and kicker Kurt Knight booted 4 field goals, while the ‘Skins defense held Roger Staubach and the Cowboys offense to just 169 yards on the day in a dominating 26-3 win. I remember it like it was yesterday. George Allen would later say “that was our Super Bowl,” and indeed Washington would suffer a huge letdown in Super Bowl VII, falling to the Dolphins 14-7.

1.We Want Dallas! In the waning moments of a playoff win against Minnesota in January of 1983, the RFK crowd started a chant of “We Want Dallas,” a chant that increased in intensity until the very stands of the old venue were literally moving. Indeed, Washington would have a chance to avenge their only loss of that 1982 campaign the following week in the NFC Championship Game. The ‘Skins took an early 7-3 lead and had momentum on their side until Dallas backup QB Gary Hogeboom brought the Cowboys to within 7 at 24-17. With the game in the balance, Washington’s Dexter Manley tipped a Hogeboom pass, and Darryl Grant picked it out of the air and rambled into the end zone for the score that put the game away. In a moment of non-clarity, my friend Kevin and I decided that we were going to drive to DC and celebrate. The few remaining brain cells we had left prevailed, and we decided to go to Shepherdstown instead, where, as I remember, we did a 2-man “Fun Bunch” in the street. This time, the ‘Skins would not let down, and went on to beat the Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII. Good times…good times.

I’m not sure Sunday’s game will provide any memorable moments. The Fed-Ex stands probably won’t be rocking, there is no longer a fight song to sing, and there will surely be as many Dallas fans in attendance as there are Washington fans. Such is life as a WFT fan in 2021. But we can dream, and maybe, just maybe be able to muster up one more Fun Bunch celebration for old times sake…

Enjoy the game, and until next time from The Booth, HTTWFT, and GO HORNETS!

RW