The Board of Trade could have picked a lot of themes for its annual luncheon and meeting. Surviving The Recession, perhaps. Profiting on the Cheap. Lunching Less and Loving It. Instead, the theme was football, and the 900-plus guests at the Crystal Gateway Marriott couldn't ignore it.

Bouquets of little blue plastic footballs dotted the tables. The MC, public-relations maven Charles J. Brotman, wore a referee's hat, striped shirt and knickers. He blew a whistle to quiet the crowd and introduce the program. The board's directors made their entrance under a bright spotlight as Brotman whipped up the applause from a sampling of the area's power elite.

Board president William B. Wrench was the "first-quarter" speaker, though his speech during the salad course was drowned out by the muffled cheers -- uh, conversations. Incoming president William C. Harris did a bit better in the second quarter, perhaps because the attendees' appetites were more sated by then, or they had become accustomed to eating in the dark.

True Redskins fans never leave before the game is over, no matter the score, but this audience was less loyal. By the time the awards were announced -- brothers Robert Linowes and Sol Linowitz, both lawyers, and Junior Achievement of the National Capital Area captured the Golden Links awards -- there was a steady stream toward the exits.