Of all Redskins, Pete Wysocki put Dallas Week in its proper perspective. A special moment needed special trappings, so he rented a limousine for after the game. And though the thought scarely crossed his mind at the time, the gesture symbolized both the team's cocksure attitude before the kickoff and its jubilation when a rout, of all things, had been accomplished.
The Redskins and their fatihful have waited nearly eight years for a victory of this magnitude, when the haughty noses of their most depised opponents were firmly buried in the midfield grime of RFK Stadium.
"It feels as good as '72," said offensive left tackle Terry Hermeling, referring to the 26-3 victory here in the NFC championship game. It's one good feeling to beat Dallas -- and beat 'em good. It's been the best beating since I've been here."
Everything considered, he was exactly right. That '72 team was excellent -- and that game was in fact the zenith of the George Allen years. Though not as talented man for man, this team might be just as memorable -- and this game surely was among the very best in Redskin history.
This is the team only a zealot, before the season began, could see as being over .500 now, a team clearly in transition, a team rebuilding without the proper tools, a team with no more than cleatful of players anyone else would covet.
And this game was against a Super Bowl team that needed a victory badly, so there would be no postgame excuses. The Cowboys had the superior team, the Redskins were the big talkersbefore the game. And Wysocki backed the bravado in style.
"After St. Louis," he said, "well, I just didn't want to go into this week with any kind of doubt. So I made a commitment, and $20 an hour for a guy like me isn't a trifle. I'm gonna drive around and watch the sunset, watch Washington out the window, have a good feeling for the day."
Wysocki has a wonderful eye for life. He has experienced nearly all football can offer a man; he has been All-Pro in Canada but a special-teams headhunter in the NFL who seemed about to be phased out by the Redskins until a few weeks ago.
He is short at a position that demands height and agility. Two weeks into his 32nd year, he is inexperienced. Presumbly, the Cowboys were practically salivating during the week for a chance to run all over Wysocki. And the Redskins.
So he went uptown, took a chance, decided to leave the game with a flourish, win or lose.
Wysocki arrived at RFK properly attired. The Cowboys demand cowboys garb, so he came in a five-gallon hat, jeans and the boots he ordered nearly a year ago from a store in El Paso that just arrived a few days ago.
He carried his limo threads in a flight bag and dressed ever so slowly after the game, in a three-piece suit, felt hat and sun glasses.
"Anybody ever see a Polish godfather?" somebody wondered.
Nearby, the team was gathering its thoughts. The dressing room scene was not noticeably different from other successful games, because the Redskins actually anticipated winning.
That was in contrast with the stadium crowd. It was joyous, but at the same time restrained. The town still is not quite sure what to make of this team, as though giving its hearts too soon will somehow result in a collapse even more drastic than last season's
Late in the third quarter and early in the fourth, when they should have been losing their voices in ecstasy, the fans were rather tame. This was still Dallas -- and how many times this season have the Redskins frittered away leads to teams not as good?
This time the defense held -- and Joe Theismann acted out a fan's fantasy. After passing for the absolutely clinching touchdown, he went out of his way to taunt the Cowboys' D.D. Lewis. It was an act of joy inspired by years of frustration. Some of us would prefer a more profesional, Staubach-like air under such circumstances but we also understand the motivation.
"This is a different Dallas defense," center Bob Kuziel said. "It's very predictable (with defensive tackle Randy White injured). In the huddle, we were alerting ourselves to dogs (blitzes) before we even called the plays.
"They are predictable. When you cross the 50, they want a big play.That means a blitz. On second and long, if they don't send certain people in, it means they're dogging.
"They're telling you."
"If we don't go to the playoffs," Kuziel continued, "we ought to kick ourselves in the butt. Who's better in the NFC? Dallas is supposed to be the class, but this isn't the Dallas team of the last couple of years.
"We're going this year."
All around the room, the veterans were reflectiive and the newcomers were aglow with so much sucess so quickly. Dallas Hickman was asking: "Do you finally believe in this team?" And Wysocki was finished dressing.
He left the dressing room and walked toward his public, signing autographs and bantering with fans.
"My mafia man," somebody shouted.
"I do kinda look like a hit man, don't I?" he said.
Wysocki left the stadium and was immediately surrounded. He signed papers, accepted adulation and then considered his appearance, saying: "They think I'm Tom Landry."
He had missed sunset, and for a few minutes he feared he also had missed the limousine. He walked about the parking lot, muttering: "Do you know what these things look like?" Had the final part of his dream been shattered?
"That's it," he said suddenly, pointing toward a car about an acre long sitting perhaps 100 yards away. Wysocki was not long making connections.
The limo driver, undoubtedly accustomed to more orderly duty, presented himself to Wysocki and his wife and son. He suggested a hasty exit, but Wysocki said no. At $20 per hour, this was not going to go unflaunted.
"Pick me up over there," he ordered, "where my teamantes are celebrating."
Wysocki walked toward a knot of Redskins and the man from Admiral Limousine Service brought the car around for everyone to see.
"Still tryin' to make the big time," Hermeling yelled.
"That's George Allen's ex-limousine," a fan shouted.
"Got a little mustard for that hot dog?" Teddy Fritsch said.
There were pictures, Wysocki not looking too unlike Al Pacino. And two hours after the game of his life, he was carried away in the limo. As it moved slowly off, Wysocki told a friend to come close to the window.
"Right now," he said, "I feel like a quarterback."