So one Hog turned to another, puffing at a victory cigar, and said words never expected to be heard from a Hog, even one with a college degree. "What I want," said Jeff Bostic to George Starke, "is that Super Bowl ring."
Well, soooooeeee, or whatever it is that hogs say when they've kicked the grits out of a bunch of cowboys, who'd have ever dreamed cigar smoke would have to be waved away as hogs talk about rings for their stubby fingers?
A foolish thought once, improbable always, finally made real in the sweetest way possible for them--yes, the Redskins are in the Super Bowl. Their 31-17 victory over the Dallas Cowboys at RFK Stadium yesterday moved thousands of giddy crazies to stream onto the field, tear down a goal post, rip up chunks of stadium turf and, in general, behave as if transported to a joy indefinable. They were happy, too.
And why not? It's been 10 years since the Redskins were in a Super Bowl, a decade since George Allen went to Los Angeles with a play drawn up by Richard Nixon. Why not chant, 55,000 strong, "We beat Dallas . . . We beat Dallas"? Six times in a row the cursed Cowboys had whipped the Redskins, until yesterday.
And now, the Redskins have made sure Tom Landry won't get into the Super Bowl unless he pays his way by American Express.
Not only were the Cowboys run out of town before sundown, they suffered the extra indignity of having a posse bring them back onto the RFK field for one more play to finish the last 12 seconds. Everybody thought time had run out, and so went to the locker room. But the officials stayed out there, with thousands of banner-waving fans milling about, and waited until a dozen Cowboys dragged back out for the one last twist of the knife.
Why not, as one fellow did, then shinny up a goal post with the idea he'd plant a flag at the summit declaring, "This is Hog Country"? In the capital of the free world, a city of suave cosmopolitans, the fashion is to declare one's undying devotion to the hallowed Hogs, those offensive linemen who have rooted their way into our hearts, to say nothing of ironing flat those alleged monsters in the Cowboys' line.
And why shouldn't we look at the snow falling, only five minutes after game's end, and smile at the divine convenience of it? For two weekends now, snow was supposed to fall during games at RFK Stadium. Good teams hate snow, because it adds unpredictability to the competitive situation. So the sun shone for two weekends, and as heavy flakes began drifting down, the Redskins band serenaded the losers with several choruses of "Amen . . . Amen."
There have been such days in Washington before, but memory brings none of them back. The Bullets had to win their NBA championship in Seattle in 1978. Even old-timers here for the resurrection of the Redskins by Allen in the early 1970s say it wasn't this way back then. There was, for sure, no Fun Bunch in those days. Now, in this day of 80,000-seat antiseptic playpens with bubble roofs and plastic grass, RFK is an intimate, old-fashioned place where 55,000 zealots can set up such a din you'd think you'd walked into kindergarten at recess.
Before Joe Theismann threw his touchdown pass to Charlie Brown. . . before John Riggins, beep-beep, scored his two touchdowns . . . before Darryl Grant ordered the Cowboys out of town with his 10-yard interception touchdown late in the game--even before the folks of Washington had anything to cheer about yesterday, they were ready with bedsheet banners saying such as "Tom, You Left Home Without It."
Jim Palmer, who is famous for throwing fast balls and wearing teeny-tiny underwear, walked unnoticed through the early arrivals at RFK yesterday. He was singing, "Hail to the Redskins." Not much later, you could see a fellow in an E.T. mask, and then, in Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke's box seats, you could see a gentleman who once walked with the world's elite, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Richard Helms.
He wore an Indian headdress.
Someone asked Cooke what all this foolishness meant. Here is a city of sophisticates gone bonkers over a football team. Why? Nixon once said the Redskins are the only thing this city of transient politicians and bureaucrats thinks of as "ours." Allen says the Redskins became a religion here because, since 1945, nobody won at anything as long as they wore "Washington" across their chests. From Shaw to Glover Park, from Alexandria to Riverdale, the Redskins give a disparate population a single identity, maybe only for a passing moment of great fun, but then what else makes us all smile even a moment?
Cooke took a breath and said, "Look at this."
He waved a trembling hand around the stadium.
"This is controlled delirium. There is a coagulation, a community of interest here that is astonishing in its depth. All over this city. The rich, the poor. The black, the white."
Cooke was getting warmed up.
"The communists, the socialists. The affluent, the unpossessed. All are bound together in this city on this day by these Redskins."
A Hog couldn't have said it any better.
A Smurf tried. Alvin Garrett, one of the Redskins' teeny-tiny receivers called the Smurfs, said, "The way the fans go wild here, it makes us play way over our heads. There's a feeling here in RFK that we can't lose. These people here love the Redskins so much, they yell and holler for us so great, they raise us up until we think we can beat anybody. Around here, you can't lose if you're a Redskin."