There on the wall was the portrait of the newest Touchdown Club hall of famer, Bobby Mitchell, just one (Sonny Jurgensen's) removed from that of George Preston Marshall, and there on the podium were Dave Butz and Kenny Houston locked in a long embrace, crying.
Old times, new times.
Butz was being honored by the Quarterback Club as 1980s outstanding Redskin, Houston as beloved about-to-be-former-Redskin, and if any in the audience of 300 didn't get caught up in the emotion, it must have been only the pictures on the wall.
Butz, the defensive tackle who ended probably his finest year as an NFL performer playing the Cardinals one-handed while a cast covered the other on which a broken pin protruded through the broken thumb, called it a "very, very trying year," full of "mental and physical anguish."
"Look back over the scores," Butz said, "and you get only pain out of it."
But the overriding theme of the occasion was the excruciating end of Houston's career in RFK Stadium, and Butz applied the final touch: "I hope what happened to him on a day he was honored, I hope that this does not force him to prove he can play another year. If he plays anywhere, I want him playing on my team." Whereupon he broke down and bear hugged Houston.
George Michael, WRC-TV-4 sportscaster who has persistently editorialized about the Redskins' failure to play the veteran safety a single down in the home finale Dec. 13, earlier took the microphone to say: "Nobody from the Redskins has apologized to Kenny Houston yet. We and Channel 7 and 9 had more calls about this (from the citizenry) than anything all year." 7
To which Houston, admitting the veracity of Michael's comment that "You're warring inside, you want to play another year yet you want to retire out of love for Washington," appended:
"I'm glad George Michael made that speech this week, because if he'd said it last week, I wouldn't even have played in St. Louis."