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Riggo Discusses Twitter and the Skins

Two men on Twitter. (2002 photo by John McDonnell - TWP

The best part of John Riggins's early experiments with Twitter? That I had to ask him for some mild help understanding his 140-character blasts. Even as every athlete plus their fourth cousin has started twittering, there haven't been terribly many references to the Stepford Wives. So what, for example, did Riggo mean by bringing that up when discussing last weekend's preseason Skins broadcast?

"Mind control," he said. "Everyone on the broadcast team felt like they were a member of the Stepford Wives. That's what it felt like I was watching. Everything was beautiful, every player on the team is all-world, this team does nothing wrong."

Or in tweeting that the broadcast made him think of Robert Shaw's Battle of the Bulge?

"There was a shot of Snyder and Zorn," Riggins recalled. "Snyder was wearing the Redskins hat with a parka on. Right away you think tank commander . He was right in the middle of it. In fact, I couldn't tell who the head coach was and who was the bystander."

Saying he'd rather pick up Freddy Krueger as a hitchhiker than Brett Favre?

"Brett Favre is scarier than Freddy Krueger, are you kidding me?" he said. "That guy has some emotional problems. If he's goofing on everybody, I give him a standing ovation and say you're far in front of the rest of us, but I don't think that's the case. I think this guy's ego is so big, and he clearly enjoys this so much, that he's become pathological."

Riggins was concerned that his tweets are too obtuse, but I'd say the bigger issue is that I'm too dull. Either way, your access to the thoughts of Riggo will only increase as football season nears. Riggins said he'll share his "particular slant at life" both on his feed and on an upcoming Facebook page and Web site, which will feature longer-form blogs. Why the social media blitz?

"I don't know if I really have a good answer, other than, according to Madonna, you have to reinvent yourself every so often," he said. "I never got a tattoo, I never got an earring. I think Twitter may be something similar. I figured, 'Hey, I denied myself two of these things, why not try this?' This seems a lot less harmless, and I don't have to see someone to get the tattoo removed."

Riggins, of course, has been a fixture on local media and TV shows through much of his retirement, and while he isn't a massive consumer of sports news, he sees what's happening and forms his opinions. In some way, "you get the feeling people rely on what your opinion is," he said, and Twitter is an easy way "to stay in touch with fans and let them know what you're thinking."

Like, what's he thinking about Mike Vick?

"Guy wants to come back and play football, get the hell out of his way," Riggins said. "What is football all about? It's basically about punching people, beating them up. If you look at the essence of football, there's rules, but the whole purpose, the job description, is to create mayhem on the field, which we legitimize by calling it a game. So now everybody who's a football player is supposed to be Dudley Do-Right? Don't you have to be a little pathological to play the game, a little bit unbalanced? So now we expect these people to be Congressional medal winners? What do you think you're watching here, Tiddly Winks. To me it's a contradiction."

Or this Tweet, about Jason Campbell: "JC showing signs of offseason turmoil, pressure mounting, when you shoot at the king; must kill him."

Again, being dull, I asked for an explanation.

"Management of the Redskins went after the king," Riggins said. "They took a shot at him, a couple times in fact, botched both attempts, and ended up with now a shaken king. Point being, is the king going to be able to perform with all the pressure that keeps mounting? Maybe I've got to be a little more straightforward."

No way. Anyhow, will the king be able to perform?

"Gosh, I'll tell you, Jason's a kind of guy that you'd want to take home, if you're a woman, and introduce to your mom," Riggins said. "But that doesn't necessarily translate onto the football field as a quarterback. I saw one moment last year where I thought maybe he might work. After the Giants game, he was completely humiliated, he in particular, along with Jim Zorn. I saw in that New Orleans game what I thought to be a guy that could be a leader, a guy with some fire. He had the flared nostrils in the second half when, he threw the touchdown pass.

"That's the guy. That was a week of humiliation, all the goading he did to himself, the hair shirts he put on and went through, and he got to that performance. And then the team started winning and he slid back into the old shoes of comfortability, which is who he really is. It's not unlike Wade Phillips down in Dallas. It's not in his personality to be that cocky guy, that in your face guy. I think there's an edge that perhaps he doesn't possess. That's just my opinion, I don't know, but as I've said all along, he seems to be more a guy who manages the game for you, and if everyone else makes plays, he can manage the game for you.

"If you're down to 90 seconds on the clock and you need a touchdown, is Jason Campbell that guy? Is he gonna take you down the field. I'd have to say I have my doubts."

Riggins becomes the second prominent ex-Skin to jump on Twitter this month; Darrell Green has already nabbed well over a thousand followers and, among other things, has engaged them in a discussion on what he could run in the 40. I asked Riggo whether he and Green were likely to become twittering pals.

"I hung out in the shed with the Hogs, he actually went to the light," Riggins said. "Kind of opposite ends of the spectrum. He's where the light is bright, I'm down at the bottom where it's kind of purple."

But, like all of us, Riggins already understands the lure of trying to build up his followers. As his numbers have gone up this week, he said, he felt like a politician, trying to play to the polls.

"Your ego gets involved," he said. "It's a weird dynamic. You feel like you've got to get pissy--how many followers you can get. In the end, is it an ego thing? Is it all about self-glorification? I don't know. Clearly you can get a message out. There's parts of it that actually are very fascinating, the part where you can immediately let people know what's on your mind."

And to steal a little bit of his thunder, here's his prediction for the '09 Skins, in 126 characters:

"I'm not gonna give you a number, but it looks to me like more losses than wins. I just think it's more of the same, basically."

By Dan Steinberg  |  August 27, 2009; 11:39 AM ET
Categories:  Media , Redskins  
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damn it! coming from riggo who's usually overwhelmingly optimistic, it doesnt sound good. is Redskins Report coming back this year with sonny, riggo, george and wilbon?

Posted by: mopp04 | August 27, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Riggins will always be a hero here in DC for what he helped bring to the city in the 80's, but he has been sort of a rebel without a cause recently. He always says what the Redskins do bad, but never has any ideas of what would be a better thing to do.

Kind of a sad case to me..........

Posted by: punchdaclock | August 27, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Riggo tells it like it is.
For all of his antics off the field during his days with the 'Skins, Riggins let his on the field production speak for itself. If Riggins has doubts about your leadership abilities, then it is time to put up or be sent packing. I Like Jason Campbell, but there will be no tomorrows if he doesn't prove that he can carry this team this year, with or without a decent line. That may not be fair, but that is the reality of pro sports.

Posted by: tapscott_k | August 27, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

In respect to Twitter Riggo says "maybe I need to be more straightforward". No way. Twitter is about developing your style and then mastering it. It's up to your followers to decipher the meaning of your tweets.

After all, they're called followers.

Posted by: jansjay | August 27, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

"I'm not gonna give you a number, but it looks to me like more losses than wins. I just think it's more of the same, basically."

By Dan Steinberg | August 27, 2009; 11:39 AM ET

Love it!!! Please, will more analysts and football people please predict doom for the Redskins??? The worse they think we'll be, the more I like our chances this year.

Everyone and their mother thought the Redskins would be great in 2000 and 2006. Both of these seasons followed 10-6 campaigns and 2nd round playoff appearances. Both of these seasons also followed an offseason of several high priced free agent acquisitions (00 it was Deion, J. George, M. Carrier, Bruce Smith etc...06 it was Brandon Lloyd, Adam Archuletta, Randle El, Andre Carter, etc)...and how did those seasons turn out???

Conversely, our last 3 playoff seasons 99, 05, 07 came after relatively quiet off seasons with no turnover among coaches and very few changes to personnel. The expectations for those seasons was also relatively low.

Enter 2009. We had one high priced acquisition in the offseason in Haynesworth and expectations are relatively low. We've got Riggo saying we'll have more losses than wins, Steinberg saying we should take the "under" on the season wins over/under of 8, we've got thousands of fans screaming for Jason Campbell's head, and we've had just about every sports publication predict we'll finish last in the NFC East.

What this all means is we are headed for a division title this year, Campbell is going to the Pro Bowl, and we'll have home playoff games at Fed Ex Field in front of 90,000+ screaming Skins fans.


Posted by: Barno1 | August 27, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Riggo is the MAN! Where has he been? Steiny, thanks for posting!

Posted by: richs91 | August 27, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

I don't know what "punchdaclock" is talking about when Riggo says "bad things about the skins" and "being a said case." Comments from Riggo always brighten my day and that my friend is not sad at all.

Posted by: richs91 | August 27, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Can't believe we won't get our weekly dose of Riggo on Redskins Report this year. Only Redskins tv show where there was actually honest talk about the team.

Posted by: TheFingerman | August 27, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

I don't get the little narrative about not understanding riggo's tweets - they seem pretty straightforward.

steinberg are you just being intentionally obtuse? its not believable.

but thanks for riggo's additional commentary.

still sad I missed him performing one-man theater in olney in the 90s.

Posted by: malcolmyoung1 | August 27, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Dag...I guess I'll have to get twitter!

Posted by: didnik | August 28, 2009 8:02 PM | Report abuse

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