John Riggins at Redskins training camp


(John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

During the darkest moments of the Redskins’ dark years, John Riggins became among the harshest of the franchise’s critics.

He slammed Dan Snyder in a Showtime interview, saying “this is a bad guy that owns this team. I’ll just tell you that upfront. Bad guy,” and adding that “this person’s heart is dark.”

He filleted Vinny Cerrato, saying the man’s “real true passion is radio,” and adding, “I mean, you’re a great guy, Vin, but you’re no GM.”

He spoke for the fans on WTOP, saying they were being held hostage, but that “The fans are not powerless. That’s what I would tell them. You’re not powerless, but you have to unite and you have to let your voice be heard, and that’s the only way that you’re going to perhaps change things. Because if you’re going to go along with the status quo, you’re going to get more of it.”

And he kept up the criticism into Mike Shanahan’s tenure, saying “I really believe that, for the good of the franchise, somebody else has to own this franchise. Because now, not only is the owner really not competent in football terms….They’ve made another bad choice in Coach Shanahan. I just don’t think he’s ever gonna get the job done. I think he’s not that guy any more, if he ever was.”

Then he took off to concentrate on “Riggo On the Range,” his hunting and fishing and cooking show.

“After 40 years of football, I think it might be time to try something else,” he told me last spring. “I haven’t had ESPN on in about four months, so I guess I’m doing something right.”

While he was gone, RGIII emerged, and the Redskins won a division title, and Mike Shanahan no longer looked like a bad choice, and Snyder receded from view, and fans began feeling better about all things burgundy and gold. Riggins apparently now shares their good cheer. Because there he was at Redskins training camp on Monday, hanging out with Snyder and Shanahan and Bruce Allen.

“You know what, it feels right. It really does,” he told Larry Michael on Comcast SportsNet’s Redskins Nation, where he was promoting the re-broadcasting of his show. “I got a chance to talk to Dan, and I got a chance to talk to Mike, and of course Bruce. Couldn’t be better.”

That’s a change. But Redskins fans would probably be grateful for a detente between one of the franchise’s most popular players and its current leaders.

Plus, Riggins met Alfred Morris, whom Michael described as humble, among other adjectives.

“You know, I think the last word says it all,” Riggins agreed. “Now, I didn’t get a chance to really watch Alfred play, because I was traveling so much last year. But I got to see you guys do an interview right when camp was opening up, and I told him, I said I feel like I’ve known him my entire life. He’s that kind of a guy, clearly a guy who’s very coachable and a guy that’s out there always giving it his best shot. I think what he accomplished last year is nothing short of fantastic. As they say, the sky’s the limit for him.”

 

Dan Steinberg writes about all things DC sports at the DC Sports Bog.
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Dan Steinberg | August 6, 2013