The Louisiana people who now call the Washington area home, say about 1,000 of us kindred souls, are proud as pecans today because a homeboy is at the helm of the Redskins in the Super Bowl. And we just can't get enough of Doug Williams.
Call us web-footed and mock our shoe sizes ("must be gator stompers"), laugh at the demise of our natural resources ("the only gas they have is in their stomachs"), but the pride is back, and we native Louisianans in this almost urban and pretty-close-to-the-north city can even start talking like homefolks once again -- thanks to Doug.
"You know in Washington they talk about leadership in terms of Teflon, but Doug is a different kind of leader," said Richard Stebbins, a 1964 Olympic gold medal winner from Doug's alma mater, Grambling State University, who now lives in Northeast Washington. "Doug is like that old frying pan your grandmama used, you know, the real black one. He's the real thing."
For those of you who heard Doug Williams say he was playing only for the Redskins, that he was not carrying the "burden" of black America, remember that it was some foreign sports reporter who first came up with that crazy word.
For black people, banner -- not burden -- is a more appropriate term.
Here, let some of Doug's homeboys (and girls) put that into its proper perspective.
"At Grambling, we were taught, as men and women, that if we are willing to pay the price, we will be able to do anything we want, and Doug is an outstanding example of that," said Faye Williams, national president of the Grambling Alumni Association. "As a graduate of a historically black college, he was taught to be a role model, to be responsible on and off the field, and to reach back to bring others along."
"Doug will be playing for a lot of black people," said Leo Givs, a public relations officer for the D.C. Fire Department and former offensive tackle at Grambling when Doug's brother, Mike, was the quarterback.
"He'll be playing for the 'Prez,' the late president emeritus of Grambling, Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones, who used to ride with the football team and tell remarkable stories of going through the back door of the state capitol to beg for money to keep the school going. He'll be playing for the 'Coach,' Eddie Robinson, who for 50 years did nothing but win with only one-tenth of the resources that other colleges had. He'll be playing for brother Mike, Matt Reed, Willie Totten and all the other good black quarterbacks who never got the opportunity."
"I want to see him do good so bad I can hardly stand it," said Dr. Bruce Merrick, a native of Shreveport, La., who now lives in Columbia. "But winning is not even the point. The issue is being there. He made it. Whether the Skins win or lose, Doug is a superstar."
Today, beginning at 4 p.m., Suzanne M. Mayo, president of the D.C. chapter of the Grambling Alumni Association, will host a Super Bowl party at Triples at 3714 Branch Ave. in Hillcrest Heights. It is mostly for Grambling alumni and friends of the school. But it is one place where Doug Williams fans will be able to purchase, or find out where to purchase, his authentic "Touch of Class" shirts, as opposed to those of the bootleg variety.
"Hopefully people really mean it when they say 'I love Doug,' and buy the real shirts and not send the message, 'I love crooks' by purchasing the wrong product," said Bob Piper, Williams' personal manager and creator of the "Touch of Class" shirt.
Right now, however, it's hard to blame anyone who scoops up a Williams memento wherever they find one. Within minutes of the Redskins' winning the NFC championship, telephone calls and Telex messages began pouring in from points south: "Urgent," one read, "Need 10 Doug Williams 'Touch of Class' T-shirts. Will send gumbo with choice of corn pones, fritters or crawfish pie."
For us Washingtonians who left our hearts in the Bayou country, it doesn't get any better than this.