When we were champions

Redskins 1991: Welcome to Minnesota

Twenty years ago this week, the Washington Redskins won Super Bowl XXVI -- the last of their three Vince Lombardi trophies under Coach Joe Gibbs. To commemorate the 1991-1992 season, The Washington Post spoke with more than two dozen players, coaches and others connected with the team and asked them to tell the story in their own words.

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Super Bowl XXVI was to be played in the Metrodome on Jan. 26, 1992. The Redskins arrived in Minneapolis six days earlier.

Gallery

Chapter 5: Cast of characters

Jeff Bostic
The Redskins’ starting center in 1991. He played in Washington from 1980-93 and had a key role on all three of Joe Gibbs’s championship teams.

Charley Casserly
Served as general manager of the Redskins from 1988-99, helping add the pieces to the roster that would win Super Bowl XXVI.

Monte Coleman
Played with Washington from 1979-94. Only Darrell Green has played more games in a Redskins uniform. A defensive captain, he won three Super Bowl rings playing linebacker in Washington.

Andre Collins
A second-year player in 1991 who started at linebacker for the Redskins in Super Bowl XXVI. He played with the Redskins through the 1994 season and retired from the NFL in 1999. He led Washington with 151 tackles in 1991.

John Kent Cooke
The son of the late Redskins’ owner, Jack Kent Cooke. The younger Cooke carried the title of executive vice president and played a role in all aspects of the organization from 1981-99.

Ricky Ervins
A third-round draft pick out of USC, was a rookie in 1991 when he ran for 680 yards, which stood as his career-high. He had 72 yards on 13 carries in Super Bowl XXVI.

Joe Gibbs
Took the Redskins to four Super Bowls during his first tenure as Washington coach 1981-92, winning three of them. He was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996.

Joe Jacoby
Played right tackle for Washington in Super Bowl XXVI. He was a four-time Pro Bowler who played his entire career — 1981-93 — for the Redskins.

Tony Kornheiser
A regular fixture in the Washington Post from 1978-2008, writing columns for both the Sports and Style sections.

Jim Lachey
A three-time Pro Bowl tackle who protected Mark Rypien’s blind side in Super Bowl XXVI. He played in Washington from 1988 until his retirement in 1995.

Chip Lohmiller
Made three field goals in Super Bowl XXVI for the Redskins. He led the NFL in scoring, field goals made and extra points in 1991. That season he played in his lone Pro Bowl.

Charles Mann
Played in four Pro Bowls and won two Super Bowl rings with the Redskins. The defensive end led the Redskins with 11 ½ sacks in 1991. A third-round pick in the 1983 NFL Draft, Mann won a third title in San Francisco in 1994 before retiring.

Brian Mitchell
A fifth-round pick of the 1990 NFL Draft, Mitchell was in his second season in 1991, serving primarily as a return specialist. He returned three kicks and one punt in Super Bowl XXVI.

Art Monk
A three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008. He was selected by the Redskins in the first-round of the 1980 NFL Draft, and the 1991 marked the last of Monk’s five 1,000-yard seasons. In Super Bowl XXVI, he had 113 yards on seven catches.

Mark Rypien
Posted career-highs in 1991 in completions (249), yards (3,564) and touchdowns (28). He threw for 292 yards and two touchdowns in Super Bowl XXVI and was named the game’s MVP. A two-time Pro Bowler, Rypien played only two more seasons in Washington.

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Cooke: It was so damn cold. Jesus, it was cold.

Mann: Who in the heck plays a Super Bowl game in Minnesota? We got there and it’s freezing cold. I mean, guys went out ice fishing.

Coleman: It was all great until we started to drive out there on that ice. And we’ve got this big truck we’re in. In Arkansas, people fall through ice all the time, and we’re going to drive a truck? We was like, “Hold up, Chip, are you sure we’re going to be safe?” He assured us we were going to be. Got the drill thing and able to drill holes. We didn’t catch anything — we didn’t get a bite — but it was a great experience.

Lohmiller, native of Woodbury, Minn.: All the guys came over to my house and relaxed and played cards and got away from everything. … Had food and just hung out and got away from everybody and relaxed and went back to the hotel that night.

Ervins: The only time I did go out, pretty much everybody went to Prince’s club. It was a lot of folks there.

The team practiced at the Minnesota Vikings’ facility and hit the field for the first time on the Wednesday before the Super Bowl.

Mitchell: If you would’ve been at our practice, you would’ve sworn we were playing a game.

Gibbs: I’d never seen such violent hits in a practice. John Madden was there with the TV group, and he couldn’t believe it. I cut practice short 30 minutes that day. I had to. If we kept goin’, we were going to kill somebody.

Lachey: On Thursday, Matt Millen and I were talking about getting in a fight … and the next thing you know, we’re on the ground. We talked about this as something to do, and it turned into a good battle. We were kind of waiting for the troops to pull us apart, but they didn’t.

So we were out there whaling into each other. Gibbs said he thought we were fooling around, but then it turned into a fight. He was like, “What the hell are you guys doing?” Well, he didn’t say “hell.” But that’s the intensity the players wanted. It wasn’t something the coaches talked about, but the players talked about it.

Jeff Bostic, center: I went to Joe after Thursday’s practice and said, “Joe, you gotta get us out of pads on Friday.” He said, “Why?” I said, “Because someone’s going to get hurt.” He said, “You think practices are too physical?” I said, “Are you watching the tape? This team is ready to play right now. We don’t need to be beating on each other.”

Mitchell: Joe Gibbs had to tell everybody to slow down. Guys were getting more and more pissed off because Buffalo was in the papers talking about who was going to be the MVP off their team, calling the Hogs fat. The Hogs started going harder in practice, so the defense would have to go harder. And I remember Ryp got his ankle sprained.

Collins: You could have heard a pin drop out there.

Mitchell: Joe called us together and said, “Look, we’re teammates. We can’t kill each other. We’ll get them on Sunday. We’ll get ’em.”

Rypien: It would have taken something surgical for me not to play.

The electricity stretched from Minneapolis to the District, and by January, the whole town was on the bandwagon with Kornheiser, who actually drove a decorated R.V. to Minneapolis. The road trip took three days, two nights — 1,150 miles in all. They’d purchased the movie “Misery” for the VCR.

Kornheiser: If I could do something idiosyncratic and write it, people said, “Do it.” Then they’d say afterward, do it this year or that year. But no, we never really did it again. I got the sense that it captured a certain spirit of a certain amount of the fans and the players. I would have loved to have hammered them, and I did hammer them – for not winning 100-0. But God, they were good. … It was the most fun of anything I ever did in all my years at The Post.

Casserly: The night before the Super Bowl, I’ll never forget Joe’s talk to the team. He got up there and told the players, “I wish I could be in your shoes. I was never good enough to play in league. I wish I could change places with you.” That’s a hell of a statement for a guy who’s a Hall of Fame coach. That really resonated with the players. The other thing he did, he showed a video — there was a coach with the Bills who’d done a TV interview making fun of the Hogs. Joe said, “I want to show you this.”

Lachey: Coach Gibbs was good at that, finding a newspaper clipping or whatever to put up on the bulletin board to motivate you. 

Among other things, Chuck Dickerson, the Bills’ defensive line coach, called Jacoby “a Neanderthal” and said he “slobbers a lot, he probably kicks dogs in his neighborhood.” Of Lachey, he said, “The thing we’ve noticed about him more than anything from watching the tapes of them is that he has bad breath.”

Jacoby: That’s part of the territory when you carry a name. We knew what we had to do.

Lachey: Just, really? You want to do this a night before the game?

Bostic: I don’t know what this guy was thinking, but when you have the talent and chemistry that we had, you don't throw gasoline on the fire. … Joe showed it to us Saturday evening at our last team meeting. And we were ready to play right then.

PREVIOUS: CHAPTER 4 — THE PLAYOFFS

NEXT: CHAPTER 6 — GAME TIME

 
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