I went to the Redskins game Monday night and took my seat, which was next to a guy with a bottle of Hennessey and behind a woman with a portable television set and across from a man with an extra pair of binoculars.
Home viewers, eat your heart out. I got a free ticket.
Win or lose, I was going to have a good time because here, in the full house of RFK Stadium, it is not so much the players as the fans that make gridiron confrontations into real live sporting events.
Simply put, there's just nothing like being at RFK, so for all of those city residents who will never know what it's like because the suburbanites have bought up all the season tickets, let me tell you about it.
First, there is Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke, pacing around his viewing box. The more he walks, it seems, the better his team plays, and that night he walked and stalked like a rooster in a hen house.
I wanted to yell, "Be cool, Jack." But Jack has bodyguards.
Then there was Duke Zeibert, the famous downtown restaurateur, walking with Cooke, his chest puffed out under flaming white hair, watching intently as the Skins racked up a 10-0 lead against the St. Louis Cardinals.
It was just like the beginning of the game against the Chicago Bears -- which the Skins lost 45-10. So Duke wipes his brow and says, "I just hope they play as good in the second half."
I say, hey, don't sweat it, Duke.
Down on the field, there is Edward Bennett Williams' oldest child, a Redskins ball boy, conferring with fullback John Riggins, taking time out to retrieve the kicking tee after a kickoff.
I intend to send him a letter proposing a job swap during the playoffs.
Meanwhile, the game played on.
It is fourth down and less than a yard to go for the Redskins. Field goal kicker Mark Moseley starts onto the field. The fans say, "No. Go for it, Joe." Moseley returns to the sideline. Riggins gets set in the backfield.
Just as I get the binoculars set, a Redskinette jumps into view.
The crowd roars.
"Fabulous," I scream.
"What moves," I yell.
"It's a fake," the announcer cries.
But it looks real to me.
"Touchdown," the announcer blares.
How they did it, I still don't know. The one thing about RFK, when you miss a play -- you miss it. But wait, there is that woman with the television set. If only she did not prefer watching, "The Long Hot Summer, Part II."
But again, that's okay, because the sound of 56,000 fans, their voices blended in unified uproar, is satisfaction enough. There is a fantastic power in the people of the Washington area, who together look like jumping jellybeans lining a huge fruit bowl. (And the Hennessey ain't bad, either.)
The stadium rocks and reverberates, creating the spiritual equivalent of the Doppler effect. The Skins have been shaken to their senses.
Suddenly the sign on the side of the stadium wall takes on new meaning. "Slumpbusters," it reads. Only an announcement that the game is being broadcast nationally by longtime Skins bashers Frank Gifford, Joe Namath and O.J. Simpson dampens the jovial mood.
But that didn't last long. With popcorn, beer, pretzels and Redskinettes, the spirit stayed alive. The special teams were fired up. The defense was hot and the offense on a roll. Even the Redskins Marching Band was good enough to make you forget about television halftime gibberish.
Seated near me, two guys that I mistook for Soviet diplomats (they were wearing black Russian hats) turned and revealed themselves to be priests.
With three minutes left to go in the game and the score 27-10 Skins, the two men stood, nodded to each other knowingly, then quietly departed.
You had to be there to see it. But wherever you were, the results were the same: the Redskins, and their beloved fans, had been blessed -- at least last Monday night.