Washington's latest hero became a superhero last night.
In Georgetown bars, in nightspots throughout the city, in front of a giant-screen television at the Old Post Office Pavilion, in countless living rooms across the District and its suburbs, thousands screamed their appreciation for Redskins quarterback Doug Williams, the man who whipped Denver and went on to be named the game's most valuable player.
For some, Williams represented another kind of milestone -- the first black quarterback to start in the Super Bowl.
"This is a lot more than another Super Bowl game," said Robert Belt, celebrating with friends at Eugertha's, a bar and restaurant on Georgia Avenue Northwest. "It will open up a lot of doors for talented black athletes who've been sitting on the bench. Kids really need role models, and Doug breaks down the stigma."
In every quarter of the city, the 42-10 victory prompted spontaneous eruptions of joy.
More than 100,000 delirious fans poured into the streets of Georgetown, climbing street lights, standing atop newspaper boxes and forcing police to close off several blocks of M Street and Wisconsin Avenue. Traffic was backed up beyond the Washington Cathedral on Wisconsin with police predicting similar chaos on the Key Bridge.
Residents of the Mount Pleasant neighborhood in Northwest took to their balconies to cheer and shout. Residents of Meridian Hill Park took to the streets to dance, literally. In normally sedate Logan Circle, firecrackers erupted, horns honked and fans ran and up and down the street screaming the good news.
For much of the night, police described the Georgetown crowd as boisterous but good-natured. However, the mood became uglier about 1 a.m., a half-hour after police began clearing the area's streets.
Police said a man was shot about 1 a.m. in the left leg at 30th and M streets, on the fringe of the celebration. The victim, who was described as about 24 years old, was taken to George Washington University Hospital, where he was listed in stable condition. Police said they had identified no suspect or motive in the shooting.
About 1:20 a.m., as police wrestled a man to the ground in the middle of Wisconsin and M Streets for resisting arrest, they were showered with bottles from spectators on the surrounding sidewalks.
Police also said some fans overturned an empty cab at Thomas Jefferson and M streets NW, and there were reports of fire hydrants being opened.
Police estimated that 10 people were arrested for disorderly conduct during the celebration.
The festivities all seemed to happen so quickly. As the drama of Super Bowl XXII unfolded a continent away in San Diego, Washington fans appeared to be heading for a major anticlimax.
During the first quarter, a crowd of about 1,200 stood glumly in front of the 20-foot television screen at the Old Post Office Pavilion as the Broncos took an early 10-0 lead and Williams limped off the field with what appeared to be a serious leg injury.
"It's early, it's early," said Tim Leary, a bellman at the Hyatt Regency Bethesda, as Denver quarterback John Elway threw a 51-yard touchdown pass on Denver's first offensive play of the game.
His faith was not misplaced. As Williams took command of the game, throwing one deadly accurate pass after another, the crowds began to come to life.
Guards at the Pavilion jumped in the air and slapped the hands of passers-by. Fans in Georgetown began spilling onto the streets. At halftime, dancers took to the floor at Triples Night Club in Hillcrest Heights where many in the crowd were alumni of Grambling State University in Louisiana, Doug Williams' school.
"He's a quarterback first and a black second," said Jimmy Williams, a warehouse supervisor for Giant Food, who was part of the Triples crowd. "All he had to do was have an opportunity. It's very exciting."
Ron Baker, a free-lance journalist decked out in a Redskins sweatsuit, summed up the mood of the crowd at Triples. "Black people have kind of a universal kinship to him, but everyone likes to see a guy handle adversity the way Doug Williams has in life and in his career," he said. "They want to see him win."
"I guess I'm overwhelmed with joy," said Emmett Watkins, a private investigator who attended Grambling. "Because of all the things that Doug has gone through, I'm glad to see it's finally paying off. I can't stop talking about it."
Fred Jackson, a federal government auditor, was almost sheepish in his confession about his football loyalty. "I'm not a Redskins fan, I'm a Doug Williams fan," he said. "I'm a student of football and he's just so good. He's just a good quarterback. He'd be good if he was green."
At Eugertha's, fans dined at halftime on candied yams, pigs feet, black-eyed peas, collard greens, barbecue chicken, ham and corn bread. Charlie Davis, who is blind, listened closely to the game with a transistor radio.
"You can't do anything if someone doesn't want to give you a chance," he said. "With Doug, the question is the opportunity. He was given the chance."
Redskins fans were already making plans to greet the victors, who were due to arrive at 7 p.m. today at Dulles International Airport. Buses are supposed to take them directly to Redskins Park. In San Diego, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry promised a victory parade on Wednesday.
Across the D.C. area, Redskins fans hunkered down in overstuffed armchairs, stood shoulder to shoulder in front of big-screen televisions and hoisted untold numbers of beers in an exuberant display of team loyalty and regional pride.
Sunny skies and springlike temperatures that reached a high of 65 degrees drove many pregame and postgame activities outside. Hours before the 6:18 p.m. EST kickoff time, celebrants filled the streets of Georgetown, honking horns, cheering and stocking up on Redskins T-shirts and other game-related necessities.
"Everyone playing in that game, they're making history," said Paul Glover, a street vendor in Anacostia who reported brisk sales of Doug Williams T-shirts throughout the afternoon. "If it was two white quarterbacks, it wouldn't be history."
Almost everybody was a football fan yesterday. Grocery stores closed early, movie theaters were all but deserted, and local ministers added a special prayer for the home team during morning services.
At Langston Golf Course in Northeast, players hurried through their rounds so they would have ample time to go home and get ready for the game.
"I think it's a very important event," said James Scott, a 58-year-old retired biologist who spent the afternoon with friends in the clubhouse. "Blacks have always been stigmatized that they could only run and jump. This may change that."
Scott remarked to his friends that an acquaintance, a retired judge, had scheduled his wife's wake so that none of the guests would be late for the game. "Nothing wrong with that," said Glenn Mills, 61.
When the game finally ended last night, the whole city jumped for joy.
Residents of the Shaw neighborhood waved pennants and honked car horns as the celebration spread to Washington's inner-city neighborhoods to a degree that witnesses described as unprecedented.
In addition, exuberant fans were flinging eggs at each other on South Dakota Avenue NE, and bottles at the intersection of 14th and Fairmont Streets NW, as they surged out of houses and apartment buildings.
By 11 p.m., the crowd had nearly overwhelmed Georgetown. It filled M Street from the Key Bridge to 29th Street, and hundreds more packed Wisconsin Avenue from M Street to R Street.
Packs of fireworks exploded in the crowd. A few of the fans took their shirts off, climbed light posts, and began to hang and swing -- sometimes upside down -- to the applause of the crowd at least 50 feet below and to the chagrin of police, who had given up trying to coax them down.
College students appeared to make up much of the crowd.
Brian O'Connell, a student at American University, said he had come down to Wisconsin Avenue and M Street after the Redskins lost to the Raiders in the 1984 Super Bowl. "It was dead," he said. "I wanted to see what the place was like when we won. It's great. It sure beats Times Square for the spirit."
Jennifer Norwood, 19, a sophomore at Howard University, said, "Everybody's together because we won. It's a time to be happy. And this is the place to be."
There were also some younger and older persons in the crowd. One of the youngest was 6-month-old Patrick Scroggin of Q Street NW.
Staff writers Karlyn Barker, Fred Brown, Paul Duggan, Lawrence Feinberg, Rene Sanchez and Michael York contributed to this report.