He had traded for both starting defensive tackles, Eric Williams and Tim Johnson. When Super Bowl XXVI ended, no one had a wider smile than Casserly.
Casserly had arrived at Redskin Park as an unpaid intern in 1977. He had been a high school teacher and coach in Massachusetts who wanted to give coaching on the NFL level a try. He lived in the Alexandria, Virginia, YMCA, drove a Chevy Nova with 120,000 miles on it, and typically dined on peanut butter and crackers. He fetched milk shakes for George Allen, broke down films, made scouting trips and slowly earned the respect of those around him.
When he finally drew his first NFL paycheck, he gave it to friends and schools that had helped him. By the time Beathard resigned, Cooke had so much faith in Casserly that he didn't interview anyone else.
Casserly was meticulous in organization and research, a workaholic who also found time to read a book a week and to see virtually every popular movie that came out. Once, when Cooke kept dropping the name of legendary Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey in conversation, Casserly bought a Rickey biography. He highlighted a few passages like this one that could describe Casserly as well: "He was driven, as he had always been, by the ethic of work for work's sake, and also by his passionate faith in detailed and meticulous planning. Luck, as he so often informed everyone within earshot, is the residue of design."
He did the same with books on such other sports figures as basketball coaches John Wooden, Red Auerbach, Pat Riley and Rick Pitino. He kept the highlighted excerpts typed up in a loose leaf binder, and one of his goals before each training camp was to read the passages again.
Two months after the Super Bowl, Casserly took the biggest gamble of his career. He traded a pair of first-round draft choices to move into position to take wide receiver Desmond Howard, who had just won the Heisman Trophy after a dazzling season at Michigan. Casserly and Gibbs gushed over Howard on draft day, calling him an explosive playmaker, someone who should have a big impact for the next decade. "I've never seen a receiver who reacts as well to the ball when it's in the air," Gibbs said on draft day. "The guy makes plays."
With three veteran thirtysomething receivers, Howard was going to be the added ingredient in 1992 as the Redskins attempted to win a second straight Super Bowl.