There are plenty of stories about John Riggins’s fondness for brewskies during his playing days.
Here’s one, from Jane Leavy, written in 1983:
He is slouching in a bar in Georgetown, pondering “the depths and breadths of my craziness.” He remembers another day in another bar during his self-imposed exile from the Washington Redskins three years ago.
“I’m out on my feet,” he says. “I’m getting ready to leave. There’s this bouncer standing there. I look back at my friend like this, ‘Watch this.’ I throw a haymaker for no reason. This guy grabs me, throws me out the door. He’s polishing the curb with my shirt. The bad part was, I’m still in it.”…
The sun hangs lower in the sky. His drawl, drenched in beer, grows deeper, thicker, more self-deprecating. “I don’t think I have the contempt for the game I once had,” he said, smiling. “I cooled off with the war protesters.”
George Starke, the veteran tackle, once said, “John is a living representation of an old Hank Williams Jr. song. ‘Hard drinkin’, hard fightin’, ornery.’ ”
“Fightin’? No,” Riggins said. “I’m not a fighter.”
And there was this, from a 1983 story in the Miami Herald about Joe Gibbs’s famous trip to Kansas to recruit Riggo back.
On the conversation when Gibbs visited him in Lawrence, Kan., to see if he was interested in playing again: “I don’t remember. I was out pretty late the night before. I think he just wanted to meet me. I don’t know if he went for meeting me at the back door at 9 in the morning with a beer in my hands, but I sure did.
Anyhow, Riggins recently hung out with Orioles skipper Buck Showalter for his Riggo on the Range program, and the subject of refreshing and delicious adult beverages came up.
“When I went into [pro football], I said ‘Man, the last thing I want to do is come out of here all broken in half,’ ” Riggins told Showalter. “And I can’t believe I didn’t, now that I look back on it, I really can’t.”
“When you get with old teammates or with reunions or whatever, they’ve got to be real jealous of you,” Showalter speculated. “They go ‘How in the world did you survive this?’ ”
“Then again, maybe when you’re in a constant state of lubrication, the joints stay nice and loose,” Riggins joked. “I don’t know. There are those rumors about me I’m sure.”
“Pickled, I think,” Showalter said.
“Exactly. How can you get hurt?” Riggins asked.
The episode — during which Riggo and Showalter go after ducks in Stuttgart, Ark, a.k.a. the ‘Duck Capital of the World’ — airs Saturday morning at 8:30.