Across the country, Washington Redskins fans are getting ready for the exciting 2012 football season. They are hoping to see a new beginning, an era of greatness in Redskins history, and an overall renaissance in Redskins football.
Redskins fans hope that this year will be the beginning of a new era of greatness, which includes a couple of Super Bowl victories. The Redskins are a national team, as millions of government workers and military personnel spend part of their careers in Washington and return home with the Redskins in their blood.
A Brief History
Modern Redskins history can be divided into three distinct phases: the George Allen Era, the Joe Gibbs Era of Greatness, and the current period of frustration that started all the way back in 1993.
George Allen coached the Redskins from 1971-1980. Coach George Allen preferred experienced veterans to younger players, and his team was known as the "Over the Hill Gang." In 1971, the Redskins made the playoffs for the first time since 1945. They lost in the divisional playoffs to the San Francisco 49ers.
In 1972, the Redskins were furious in the NFC playoffs. They beat the Green Bay Packers 16-3, and, in the NFC championship game, they humiliated the Dallas Cowboys 26-3. In Super Bowl VII, they faced the undefeated Miami Dolphins and lost 14-7. Their only touchdown came on the famous Garo Yepremien pass. To view a video of the unforgettable play, please click here. The Redskins never returned to the Super Bowl under coach Allen.
The Joe Gibbs Era of Greatness
Joe Gibbs began is career with the Redskins in 1981, and finished 8-8 in his first year. The 1982 season was the year of the infamous strike. After the strike was settled, the Redskins won six of their final seven games and made the playoffs. In the second round of the playoffs, the Redskins beat the Minnesota Vikings 21-7. In the NFC championship game, the Redskins annihilated the Dallas Cowboys 31-7. In Super Bowl XVII, the Redskins faced the Miami Dolphins.Super Bowl XVII
Running back John Riggens provided one of the most famous plays in Redskins history, and a place in the hearts of Redskins fans. It was fourth-and-1 at Miami's 43-yard line, just 10 minutes left in the game, and the Redskins were behind 17-13. The play was designed to gain short yardage only. Riggens ran through a hole in the left side that was developed by H-back Otis Worsley and two of the greatest Hogs in Redskins history, tackle Joe Jacoby and guard Russ Grimm. Dolphins player Don McNeil was the last defender in Riggens' way. Riggens shook off McNeil and ran into the end zone for a touchdown and a 20-17 lead. The Redskins held on to win 27-17 to win their first Super Bowl.
The 1987 season was another strike year, and this time the schedule was reduced to 15 games and the replacement players played some of the games. The Redskins played the Denver Broncos on January 31, 1988, in Super Bowl XXII.
Super Bowl XXII
The Denver Broncos took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. In the second quarter, the Redskins achieved virtual perfection. The Redskins scored 35 points in just 18 plays, On a play-action play, quarterback Doug Williams threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to receiver Ricky Sanders, who caught the ball around midfield and outran cornerback Mark Haynes into the end zone. About 4 minutes later, Gary Clark caught a 27-yard touchdown pass from Doug Williams. On the Redskins' next possession, rookie running back Timmy Smith broke free and ran down the sideline for a 58-yard touchdown run. Just a few minutes later, Williams threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Sanders. An 8-yard touchdown pass to tight end Clint Didlier closed the scoring.
The 1991 Redskins were one of the most dominant teams in the history of the NFL, and arguably the best all-around team in Redskins history. These Redskins were a tough and determined team that started the season with an 11-0 record. They finished 14-2 and then annihilated Atlanta and Detroit in the playoffs by a combined score of 65-17.
Super Bowl XXVI
The Redskins faced the Buffalo Bills in the Super Bowl. The Bills were 13-3 in the regular season and had the most explosive offense in the league that featured quarterback Jim Kelly and running back Thurman Thomas.
The Redskins exploded in the second quarter and built a 17-0 lead. Just seconds into the third quarter, the Redskins scored another touchdown and went ahead 24-0. After a 30-yard touchdown pass to receiver Gary Clark, the Redskins built an insurmountable 31-10 lead. The Redskins held on to win 37-24.
The Fall of the Franchise (1993-Present)
The Redskins maintain a very dedicated and loyal fan base, but have fallen on incredibly hard times. The team has only two playoff victories in three appearances in this period.
Robert Griffen III
The Redskins finally drafted a franchise quarterback in Robert Griffen III, and Redskins fans hope he will end the long period of frustration and establish a new tradition of greatness. Griffen is a great cultural and football fit in Washington. He is already loved in Washington, as evidenced by the party they held for him at the stadium. Thousands of fans came out to greet him, and he wound up singing the Redskins' fight song. He is also a great football fit as he is mobile quarterback with a strong arm which the coaching staff craves. Griffen could be the next John Elway, the quarterback coach Mike Shanahan won two Super Bowls with in Denver.
The Fight Song
Speaking of the fight song here are the lyrics to it:
Hail to the Redskins!
Braves on the Warpath!
Fight for old D.C.
Run or pass and score -- we want a lot more!
Beat 'em, Swamp 'em,
Touchdown! -- Let the points soar!
Fight on, fight on 'Til you have won
Sons of Wash-ing-ton, Rah!, Rah!, Rah!
Hail to the Redskins!
Braves on the Warpath!
Fight for old D.C.
Please click here to see and hear an actual performance of the song.
The Hoggets are another great tradition in Redskins football. This started in the Joe Gibbs era. Gibbs loved big, physical, over-sized offensive linemen that could dominate a game. His linemen were nicknamed the Hogs -- and the Hogget tradition was born. Grown men attend the game dressed as female hogs.
For a list of activities the hogs have planned for this season please click here.
Rivalry with the Cowboys
The Redskins-Cowboys rivalry is one of the oldest and fiercest in all of sports. The rivalry goes all the back to the inception of the Cowboys franchise. The two teams compete every year in the NFC East and this has only intensified the great rivalry. The two teams play twice a year, once in Dallas and once in Washington. When the Redskins play the Cowboys, the fans call it "Dallas Week" and the game has a playoff atmosphere.
I am a former government worker who spent time in Washington D.C. and returned to Pennsylvania. I will always remember the joy of watching the Redskins win a couple of Super Bowls, and I continue to root for them even today.