Nobody celebrates the Redskins quite like the Redskins


Former Redskins wide receiver and Hall of Famer Charley Taylor is among a large throng of Redskins alumni to show up for Thursday’s 80th anniversary kickoff at Redskins Park. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Eighty years ago this week, the Lindbergh baby was found dead, a key moment during one of the most spectacular true-crime stories of the 20th century. 

I wasn’t expecting to hear about the Lindbergh baby at the kickoff to the Redskins80th anniversary campaign Thursday evening, but this event included plenty of things I wasn’t expecting.  

Like Mike Shanahan, transitioning from a story about once seeing Joe Jacoby relieving himself into a round of fantastic praise for Robert Griffin III. After calling the rookie “a franchise quarterback who will be here for the next 15 years,” Shanahan promised the Redskins Park crowd that Griffin “will do things that you have not seen quarterbacks do.”

Or like the Redskins marching band, adding a musical refrain to the proceedings by launching into an enthusiastic version of “Don’t Stop Believin.” Cole Porter or Jerome Kern probably were better known among the 1932 crowd than Journey, but I guess there’s no marching-band version of “After You, Who?”

Or like the Redskins introducing their new throwback jerseys, paying tribute to their 1937 D.C. debut with “a rich, darker color palette,” a patch from the early years, and a helmet that has “a unique, leather-like finish.” 

“Love ’em,” GM Bruce Allen said, shortly after the uniforms were unveiled inside the team’s new indoor practice facility. “It’s our tradition. It’s authentic. That’s what we were looking for: authenticity.” 

Or like Larry Michael’s 80th anniversary speech, which mentioned not only the Lindbergh baby but also FDR, Herbert Hoover, Babe Ruth, Walt Disney and Mars bars.

Eighty years ago, of course, the Redskins were founded in Boston, moving to the District five years later. The franchise will honor that anniversary with a season-long “Hail to the Fans” campaign, which Michael promised will be “the most comprehensive and fan-engaging campaign ever.” 

In addition to the throwback uniforms — which will be worn at two as-yet undisclosed home games — the campaign will feature an 80th anniversary bus that will tour D.C., Maryland and Virginia; a poll (involving fans and dignitaries) to add 10 names to the list of 70 greatest Redskins; an 80th anniversary gala; and special anniversary programming on both NBC 4 and Comcast SportsNet.

“It’s really about the fans, it’s about the alumni, and it’s about the great tradition of the Redskins,” owner Daniel Snyder said in brief remarks. “It’s gonna be a special year for us.” 

About a dozen Redskins legends attended Thursday’s reception, which featured a spread including throwback fare like watermelon soup, cake pops, salmon with mango salsa, fried chicken with pineapple and coconut, and artichoke salad. Among the alumni were Charley Taylor, Sam Huff, Bobby Mitchell, Brig Owens, George Starke, and Ken Harvey, who addressed the crowd on behalf of the legends.

“How great is this?” he began. “We represent the greatest fans in the world. . . . We also represent the future. It’s not just about the past.” 

To that end, there was the new practice bubble to admire, a massive structure whose roof, Allen said, was 12 feet higher than the bottom of the Dallas Cowboys’ scoreboard.  

“You can kick off, you can punt, you can do anything you’d want to do,” Shanahan told reporters before the event began. “To have a facility like this is something you need, and something we’re looking forward to.”

The current players seemed excited by the uniforms, which bear a strong resemblance to those worn by the Redskins in 1994.

“It’s a great look, great feel,” Brian Orakpo told my colleague Mike Jones. “They’re gonna look good out there when we get all 53 men out there wearing them and representing.” 

And the ex-players? Well, they were excited, too.

“It’s quite a thrill to be here,” Pat Fischer told me, “and to still be on the right side of the dirt.”

Dan Steinberg writes about all things DC sports at the DC Sports Bog.
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