Neal Olkewicz and his vintage photos
When I saw Olkewicz at the Skins' alumni day a few weeks back, I asked him to explain this glut of visual awesomeness.
"I just had them boxed up and I hadn't really looked at them in years," he said. "And now with the internet and everything, I finally got a scanner, I figured that out and posted a couple and everybody loved them. For me it's been fun, too, to kind of go back and look at all the stuff. A lot of it is kind of inside stuff that people want to see."
Like the War in Dallas image above, probably my favorite of the bunch. Is it silly and over the top? Of course. But man, they don't make 'em quite like that any more.
"We went to the army surplus store and just started buying stuff," Olkewicz recalled. "How it came about, I don't know, but it was like, hey, that's a good idea, and we did it."
And how did Joe Gibbs respond?
"We were scared to death of that," Olkewicz said. "He was usually a pretty straight guy, but we got pretty much everybody together to do it, so that was the way we got away with it. Luckily we won, too."
Indeed they did. That was Dec. 11, 1983. Here's Dave Kindred's A1 lede from the next day's Post. They don't make ledes quite like this anymore, either; not too many current sports editors would go for this.
A platoon of Redskins took Dallas today. There was little opposition from the hostile troops. Less than an hour after accepting the Cowboys' unconditional surrender, the conquering heroes were on their way home. Get the bands ready.
"We came prepared for a battle," said Redskin linebacker Rich Milot, explaining why two dozen Redskins left their three-piece suits in the closet this weekend and chose to wear Army surplus camouflage fatigues.
Seeing all that khaki and green and all those paratrooper boots and Special Forces berets--these warriors had been to John Riggins' tailor--someone asked Milot what country the Redskins were prepared to take.
"I guess we invaded Dallas today," he said. Washington 31, Dallas 10.
And here was Gary Pomerantz in Sports:
As the pregame pressure neared the boiling point, sanity took the day off at Redskin Park. Nearly half of the Redskins players came to practice wearing camouflage fatigues, bottomed out by black, high-top boots. Linebacker Neal Olkewicz even carried a commando bag and reserve cornerback Brian Carpenter (of "The Pearl Harbor Crew") wore a pullover pilot's cap.
"This is war, you know," said kick returner Mike Nelms, winking and giggling and straightening his army hat. Offensive guard Russ Grimm held a dud hand grenade and said, "This helps to keep us loose."
Back to Olkewicz. You'll notice that in all of his old photos, he has a fairly wild beard. Now, though, his face has about as much hair as my head. When did he lose the crazed look?
"Right when I started getting gray hair," he cracked. "My senior year at Maryland we kind of grew [beards] just as a rebellious thing. [Jerry] Claiborne was real strict, so our last semester we thought 'Oh, we'll grow our beards. We're big senors.' Then I just kind of kept it when I went to the Redskins, and I made the team, so I was like, 'Well, now it's my good luck thing.' Kind of stuck with it. I never really liked beards."
And what has Olky felt, digging through his photo archives?
"Like a different lifetime, but in some ways it's like it was just yesterday, too," he said. "It's been neat remembering them all. I've got more, I've got a lot more. I think the best might be on there already, but I'm sure I'll dig up some other stuff."
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