On any given afternoon, chances are you'll find the regular happy-hour crowd at the Ice House Cafe and oyster bar in Herndon gathered around the dark wood bar drinking beer, munching peanuts and talking football, football and more football.
But three Sundays ago, four of the regulars were noticeably missing. Mat Mendenhall, Dexter Manley, Nick Giaquinto and Peter Cronan, it turned out, had a more important engagement:
These four members of the National Football League champion Washington Redskins, all of whom take up considerable space at the bar, were in Pasadena, Calif., whipping the Miami Dolphins.
And what were those left behind doing back at the Ice House Cafe? Why, just what you'd expect: rooting for the four they like to consider home-town boys.
"We're just a small, little town, but the Redskins give us something that's a little unique, a little special," says restaurant owner Dan Chamblin. "We're real proud this is their home."
Herndon, population 13,000, is the year-round home of six Washington Redskin players, more than any other community in the Washington area. Neighboring Reston comes close, however, with five year-round resident Redskins.
Although Herndon can hardly be likened to the star-studded communities of Malibu and Beverly Hills, for now, at least, residents say they are happy to revel a little in the sweet taste of victory that comes to a town harboring so many Superbowl XVII champions.
Herndon, says Chief of Police Walter R. Bishop, has few marks of distinction. It is a quiet, neighborly place full of commuters who work in the District and their families.
"This sort of puts us on the map," says Bishop. "It gives us something special."
For Herndon High School linebacker Dan Jamborsky, 17, that means a chance to talk with Redskin linebacker Larry Kubin, who was introduced to him by a neighbor.
"I mean, I can dream of becoming pro, but the chances are, well, slim," says Jamborsky, whose high school team can boast a 7-3 record last season. "It's great to actually meet someone you look up to. I think it means a lot to the guys on our team."
His teammate Stephen Saupe says Herndon residents can even gloat somewhat over the fact that so many of the Redskins are neighbors.
"We used to tell our relatives from Pittsburgh--big Steeler fans, always talking about the Steelers--that a lot of Redskins lived here and they didn't care," said Saupe. "Now they want to know more about it."