As a 31-year-old Redskins fanatic, I’ve seen a whole lot of bad over the last 25 years. But there’s one glorious memory I’ll never forget: At 6, my father made me watch Super Bowl XXII, when Redskins quarterback Doug Williams led the burgundy and gold to a championship.
It didn’t dawn on me until years later how significant that moment was. Significant for me because it was the catalyst for my lifelong Redskins fandom. But it was also significant to adults all over the Washington area who looked like my dad.
Williams was a black quarterback in Chocolate City who defeated the mighty John Elway. In the minds of many black Washingtonians, it was a David and Goliath story because at the time, black quarterbacks were considered inferior to their white counterparts.
After the Super Bowl, I would see Williams on TV and in commercials and marveled at how he had a certain coolness about him. He had swag. And even though Williams’s run was short-lived — he was released the following season — it was a memorable moment and set the tone for things to come in the NFL.
Randall Cunningham and Warren Moon, both African American quarterbacks, became perennial all-stars in the early 1990s. But the new generation of successful black quarterbacks started here in Chocolate City.
Thursday evening at the 2012 NFL Draft, Washington gets another chance to recapture this magic. Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III — RG3 — is expected to be the team’s first-round pick. He has the potential to be the burgundy and gold’s first bonafide black franchise QB. And while Griffin’s statistics and college career speak for themselves, the streets of Chocolate City aren’t only buzzing about his athletic potential.
If coolness could be measured, RG3’s would be immeasurable. Wherever he goes, his presence demands attention. Whether he’s at a Baylor basketball game or at the NBA All-Star weekend, all cameras and eyes are on him and he never disappoints. I saw him dancing during a timeout of a women’s college basketball Final Four game this year and a fan reached her hand down to receive a high five from him. He clapped his hands in rhythm while doing a little dance and gave the girl her five effortlessly. That boy has soul!
For us natives of the DMV, this is exactly what we’ve been waiting for. Gentrification has drastically changed Chocolate City I’m sure many other Redskins fans from this area, like me, look for RG3 to bring back some winning ways and some of those old feelings of pride.
Griffin will have plenty of pressure on him from all corners of Redskins nation. It won’t be “get to the playoffs in two years” pressure. It will be “we want to be a serious Super Bowl contender yesterday” pressure. That’s a lot of expectation for a 22-year-old to handle.
Will he be able to? Only time will tell. But he will have old-school fans like me in his corner, hoping that he will not only deliver another championship to the nation’s capital but also bring back the good memories of what it’s like to have a black star quarterback leading Chocolate City’s No. 1 sports team.
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