A little nostalgia goes a long way at FedEx Field

Dan Steinberg
Tuesday, October 19, 2010

There were a lot of memorable moments Sunday at FedEx Field: Carlos Rogers dropping a would-be interception, Kareem Moore dropping a would-be interception, Carlos Rogers dropping a would-be interception, Kareem Moore dropping a . . . well, you get the idea.

And sure, there were dozens of good moments, too, but the one I'll actually remember came when Sam Huff showed up slightly behind the crowd of Redskins alumni members who were waiting on the field to take their group photo.

"Hooray for Sam!" chanted the 40-, 50-, 60- and 70-something former stars. "Hooray for Sam! Hooray for Sam, he's a horse's ass!"

They don't talk trash like that any more.

"The same jokes," Deacon Jones later said. "We just rephrase 'em a little bit, but we laugh just as hard. You never forget what you did here."

I'll willingly admit that sporting nostalgia makes me gooier than the Redskins' base defense, so I can't think of a single bad thing to say about Bruce Allen's four-limbed embrace of the team's history. From inviting alumni to training camp, to bringing back the much-loved gold pants, to leaning on the glory years in his talks to fans, to this past weekend's "homecoming" festivities, Allen has leaped into the Burgundy and Sepia pool.

You sometimes worry that such events will feel creakier and dustier than intended, but when the alumni and the band paraded around FedEx Field's outer ring - which, okay, isn't quite like parading down Pennsylvania Avenue - it felt plenty vibrant.

"Thanks for all the great years!" one fan yelled. "We love you guys!" someone else shouted out. "Support our veterans!" a third fan joked. And the players heard.

"That's what feels so good," said Doug Williams, who was one of the biggest attractions. "You try to be humble, but to hear people calling your name, saying you're the man, that's a great feeling. But you're walking with [Jeff] Bostic and [Russ] Grimm and [Joe] Jacoby and [Raleigh] McKenzie, and those are the people who made it possible to hear them saying 'Doug, you're the man.'

"You have to understand the context," said Jones, the Hall of Fame defensive end. "You play this game, and when you leave, the whole existence stops. To be recognized by the people you committed to, to have them remember you. . . . Everyone likes to be appreciated. So them starting this effort, acknowledging the old guys, is one of the great things you could do to keep the tradition going. It's beautiful."

There were more than 60 names on the final alumni list, and none were likely as hard to miss as the small-but-noisy Pat Fischer. In between punching me in the chest, threatening to knock the photographer off his ladder and asking a security guard how she got so pretty, Fischer consented to answer a few questions. Like this one: "What do you think of all this?" all this meaning the dinner on Saturday, the parade on Sunday, the halftime ceremony.

"Look at me," Fischer said. "Everybody has their moment. I extended my moment."

Then he ran over and hugged one of the young women organizing the event.

"See, there was another moment," Fischer then told me, before turning more serious. "You get to see your friends - your teammates, which goes beyond friendship. You don't even ask them how they are. You see them and they're on the right side of the grass, and that's the important part."

"Look around, see how happy these guys are to be together," Williams said. "The guys who played before you, the guys who played after you, the guys who played with you, it's one big happy family. I think every team in the NFL should have something like this."

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