Who started the "We Want Pittsburgh" chant?
As the day grew late and victory had been assured, a clamor rose in the stands behind FedEx Field's northwest end zone yesterday afternoon. It started small, buried in the throats of the heartiest few, the truest of believers and then slowly wafted into the afternoon sky. " We want Dallas! We want Dallas! We want Dallas! " It bounced from seat to seat, row to row, until it had blossomed into a minor roar. " We want Dallas! We want Dallas! We want Dallas! "
That was how my former colleague Les Carpenter started his A1 story about the Redskins in September of 2008. It's a fine enough way to start a story, but I have to figure he used a little artistic license there, unless he had a stringer embedded in the throats of the heartiest few, the truest of believers.
It's interesting if you go back and read about the original "We Want Dallas" chant, the one that rocked RFK Stadium before the 1983 NFC title game. The chant was mentioned twice in the next day's paper, and several times in the following weeks, but no one tried to figure out where it came from. Here's from the gamer:
Moments before John Riggins finished an overpowering 37-carry, 185-yard performance, moments before the Redskins advanced to the National Football Conference championship game with a 21-7 victory over Minnesota, the chant began throughout RFK Stadium yesterday. "We want Dallas, we want Dallas," the 54,593 fans shouted. "We want Dallas."
And here's from the fan sidebar:
If there was one cheer that dominated yesterday it was "We Want Dallas." East Capitol Street and the Stadium subway stop echoed with the chant after the game.
But it all does make you wonder how a chant like that -- or like Tuesday night's "We Want Pittsburgh" refrain -- starts. Is there one person in one section who comes up with the idea? Does one group of friends start it and convince their neighbors to carry on? Does an entire arena suddenly realize that yes, this is the right chant at the right moment?
"I started chanting it from my seats five rows behind the Caps bench, right on the red line," one reader, Warren, wrote me. "I have no idea if that's what made it spread or not....After I'd tired of having fun with Devils fans around me, my thoughts turned to Pittsburgh."
"After the fourth or fifth goal, there was a distinct We Want Hedburg chant coming from behind the Devils net, referring to Johan Hedberg, the Devils backup goalie," wrote Justin, another fan. "The arena picked it up and it kinda mangled itself into the We Want Pittsburgh chant."
"I started the chant," wrote Brendan McCann, a 32-year old longtime fan who has watched the Washington-Dallas football rivalry diminish in importance. With a few minutes left in the game, he wrote to one of his friends at the game, suggesting a We Want Pittsburgh cheer. His friend complied.
"Unfortunately, it was accompanied by claps and a sing-songy chant," Brendan wrote me. "I wanted the exact replica of the We Want Dallas, incessantly and fervently shouted, but I guess I should've gone to the game and started it myself."
Was that all? It wasn't. One reader said someone tried starting the chant in section 403
526. Two more readers suggested it started in section 107. And I got at least four e-mails pinpointing the location in section 426, several of which actually named the originator: Gavin Schmidt, a 24-year old in his second season as a season-ticket holder.
"We were talking [during] the intermission," Schmidt told me, when I tracked him down. "A guy sitting two rows in front of me had a Evgeni Malkin t-shirt jersey, and that got me thinking about the next game. We were already well up on New Jersey, so it was hearkening back to the college days of calling out your next opponent while you're still trashing the last one."
Still, even Schmidt said the cheer seemed to rise up organically in different parts of the arena almost at the same time, and that he couldn't be given full credit.
"It started a couple different places at once," he said. "It wasn't like I stood up and said, let's go! It was just happening all over."
The wildest part about Schmidt's involvement? He was born several years after the advent of "We Want Dallas," and although he's a Skins fan, he was wholly unfamiliar with the story. He felt initially proud that the chant became loud enough to hear on the Versus broadcast, and then briefly worried about the bad karma other Caps fans have attributed to such a brash cheer. But you know what he decided? The chant worked on Tuesday night, no matter what happens next time the team takes the ice.
"It was good in the moment," Schmidt said, when I asked what happens if the Penguins win. "I wouldn't regret it."
A few people wondered whether this chanting thing might fire up the Caps, might make them share the massive enthusiasm Washingtonians have for this showdown with the Penguins, might make this a repeat of that legendary day at RFK, which once led Dallas receiver Tony Hill to taunt D.C. with a "Want some, get some,' retort. Well, let's leave that at maybe.
"I asked Brooks what they were saying," winger Mike Knuble told The Post's Katie Carrera. "I thought they were saying like we want pizza or we want chicken wings."
Posted by: TyPiggington | December 22, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: cnewso01 | December 22, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Leeguru | December 22, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: JohninMpls | December 22, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: sjford23 | December 22, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: MC12345 | December 22, 2010 6:34 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: JohnWWW | December 22, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: NateinthePDX | December 22, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: longbow1 | December 22, 2010 7:15 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: longbow1 | December 22, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: StevefromSacto | December 22, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: StevefromSacto | December 22, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: I-270Exit1 | December 22, 2010 9:21 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: JWJr | December 22, 2010 11:30 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: MReilly9 | December 23, 2010 7:56 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: washingtoncapitals | December 23, 2010 8:05 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: gerse | December 23, 2010 8:14 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: futbolclif | December 23, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: chevychase10 | December 23, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: mjw4m | December 23, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: kerach | December 23, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: ltlrdtop | December 23, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.