The Redskins have made a major effort in recent seasons to bring back alumni from the good old days, during both training camp and the regular season. I always thought this was both a nice nod to the ex-players, and a pleasing treat for fans, who have been served two decades of mostly mediocrity and deserve to live in the past here and there.
But the “homecoming” hype seemed more extreme this season — culminating in Sunday’s game against Carolina, with throwback uniforms and dozens of old-timers shown on the pre-game shows, during Fox’s broadcast, and on the team’s web site. And, believe it or not, Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams said this offered a huge dose of motivation.
This speech came after Williams — during post-game interviews — was asked about his 30-yard touchdown run that gave the Panthers a lead they would not relinquish.
“It was very important,” Williams said of his run. “I mean, the guys up front did a great of blocking for us.
“I get over and I pick over the game day [program], and I’m looking at the [program], it’s customary,” Williams continued. “And I look on there and it says homecoming. And I’m thinking to myself, like, this is the National Football League. Are you serious? Homecoming? Homecoming.
“And it’s not like you tried to hide it. You blatantly put it on the front of the game day. And you’re talking about somebody fired up today? I was pissed.”
So Williams was asked if he was the only one so bothered by this designation.
“It was the whole team,” he said. “It was the whole team. That was definitely motivating. I mean, you don’t say you’re gonna have a homecoming in the National Football League. I mean, you do it in college. It’s [against] one of those teams that’s just terrible. You don’t book a good team for homecoming….I don’t know if they had a dance or anything; I just know you don’t give a team extra motivation by putting that on your program, just blatantly coming out and saying you’re our homecoming game.
Williams went on to explain that he even mentioned the alleged slight during pre-game meetings.
“I did, I brought it up,” he said. “I don’t know if anybody else saw it or not, but I know it pissed me off….[That happened] in college a couple times, a couple times, but not in the National Football League. I didn’t know they did that….I just know we was a homecoming game today.”
At least one other player mentioned the supposed slight during post-game interviews.
“I think it was their homecoming, which was kind of embarrassing for us to be in,” Cam Newton said. “And that was a challenge. I think some of the guys took that and put it as a chip on their shoulder to play harder.”
Williams later tweeted that “I’ve never been more insulted in the nfl until today! The redskins schedule us for their HOMECOMING game!” He included the above image of the game-day program.