The Redskins homecoming weekend
Since nostalgia renders me gooier than the Redskins base defense, I will be incapable of offering a critical, jaundiced look at the Redskins' homecoming weekend, which included a Saturday night dinner and a Sunday reception, parade and halftime ceremony. The Bruce Allen regime has made probably 15 history-based innovations, from the training camp alumni day to the gold pants to the elevator display to this weekend's gatherings, and I've loved them all.
Six highlights from my brief interactions with the alumni on Sunday.
1) Hooray for Sam!
Several dozen alumni gathered on the field for a group photo several hours before kickoff. Everyone posed and smiled real nice, and then someone realized Sonny Jurgensen wasn't there yet. So they did it again. And then someone realized Sam Huff wasn't there. So they waited, and they waited, and they waited, and Huff finally came onto the field, and they did it again.
Except first, all these 50- and 60- and 70-something guys chanted in unison: "Hooray for Sam! Hooray for Sam! Hooray for Sam, he's a horse's ass!"
2) Pat Fischer Is My Hero
Pat Fischer is likely the coolest person I've ever met. In addition to shaking my hand and then punching me several times and slamming my entire body left and right, the 70-year old Fischer was the center of attention everywhere he went. During the photo process, for example, he repeatedly threatened the photographer.
"You got five seconds 'til you're coming down from that ladder!" he warned Ned Dishman.
"I'm gonna knock your ass right off that ladder," he said a few minutes later.
"Now throw him off that ladder!" he said when the process was finally over.
"Shoot him!" he instructed a young female security guard, pointing at Dishman. "Don't you have a gun? It's all his fault."
Of course, Fischer had taken a special interest in this guard.
"What are you looking at?" he asked her. "Why are you so pretty?"
Even the other players seemed to marvel at the guy's energy, and they remembered him on the field.
"I haven't seen Pat Fischer since 1974," Deacon Jones told me. "He's one of the meanest little guys I ever saw in my life. He knocked the [bleep] out of anyone."
Eventually, I stopped idolizing Fischer long enough to ask him what he thought of the weekend.
"I'm having fun," he said. "Look at me. Everybody has their moment. I extended my moment."
Then he ran over and hugged one of the young women who was organizing the event.
"See, there was another moment," Fischer told me. "You get to see your friends -- your teammates, which goes beyond friendship," he said, turning more serious. "You don't even ask them how they are. You see them and they're on the right side of the grass, and that's the important part."
Then he walked back out of the tunnel and saw two young men just sitting at a table, doing nothing.
"What's going on over here for [bleep's] sake!" Fischer yelled at them. "What are you guys doing?"
3) The Fans
Hundreds or thousands of fans ringed FedEx Field for the alumni parade. It sounds sort of hokey, but it worked. They all clapped and yelled and took photographs and shouted out the names.
"You walk around and half the people don't know who you are without the number," Joe Jacoby said, but I think he's wrong on that. Fans knew who an incredible number of the players were, despite the added years and pounds.
"Thanks for all the great years!" one fan yelled. "We love you guys!" someone else shouted out. "Support our veterans!" a third fan joked. And the players heard when their names were called.
"That's what feels so good," said Doug Williams, who was one of the biggest attractions. "You try to be humble, but to hear people calling your name, saying you're the man, that's a great feeling. But you're walking with Bostic and Grimm and Jacoby and McKenzie, and those are the people who made it possible to hear them saying 'Doug, you're the man.' "
4) The Ceremony
The halftime ceremony in Russ Grimm's honor, with many of the Hogs joining in a group hug near the 50-yard line, wasn't a bad thing.
5) The Gratitude
"Look, first of all, you have to understand the context," Jones told me. "You play this game, and when you leave, the whole existence stops. To be recognized by the people you committed to, to have them remember you....Everyone likes to be appreciated. So them starting this effort, acknowledging the old guys, is one of the great things you could do to keep the tradition going. It's beautiful."
"Look around, see how happy these guys are to be together," Doug Williams said. "The guys who played before you, the guys who played after you, the guys who played with you, it's one big happy family. I think every team in the NFL should have something like this weekend. We don't talk about any games or plays, we're too happy to see each other."
"Seeing the guys is the best part," Jacoby said. "What we did, the stories were like this," he continued, holding his fingers together, "and now they're like this," he concluded, holding his arms wide apart. "It's like being out of high school 10 years, everything is embellished."
"How many opportunities do we have to meet the guys who played in the '90s?" Fischer asked rhetorically. "There's a tremendous divide. The more you an exchange ideas and say hello, the better."
"I can't explain it to you," Deacon Jones said. "You have to have gone down that road to understand it, you have to have gone down that path. It's like family, and Bruce is keeping it together, and I love that. And all these guys love it. You won't have no trouble convincing people to come in the future, I can tell you that. You never forget what you did here."
6) The Names
Ken Barefoot, Mike Bragg, Larry Brown, Pat Fischer, Rickie Harris, Sam Huff, Sonny Jurgensen, Mitch Johnson, Carl Kammerer, Spain Musgrove, Brig Owens, Lonnie Sanders, Ray Schoenke, Charley Taylor, Ted Vactor, Eddie Brown, Fred Dean, Henry Doggett, Phil Dubois, Jean Fugett, Frank Grant, Buddy Hardeman, Roy Jefferson, Deacon Jones, Bob Kuziel, Ted Marchibroda, Ron McDone, Kirk Mee, Mark Moseley, Herb Mulkey, Lonnie Perrin, Ron Saul, George Starke, Bubba Tyer, Jeff Bostic, Reggie Branch, Charlie Brown, Joe Bugel, Ravin Caldwell, Brian Carpenter, Gary Clark, Reggie Evans, Darryl Grant, Russ Grimm, Steve Hamilton, Joe Jacoby, Kenny Jenkins, Larry Kubin, Tony McGee, Raleigh McKenzie, Mike Nelms, Ricky Sanders, Virgil Seay, Ed Simmons, Clarence Vaughn, Rick Walker, Doug Williams, Otis Wonsley, Andre Collins, Ricky Ervins, Ken Harvey, Sidney Johnson, Darnerian McCants.
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