When last we met Brian LaValley, the 27-year-old schoolteacher looked ready to lie down and die. After camping out for 36 hours on the cold pavement in front of RFK Stadium last week, he was the first in line to buy tickets to see his Redskins play Minnesota, and wondering if it was worth the wait.
Yesterday LaValley had no doubts. He was smack in the middle of hog heaven, surrounded by more than 55,000 like-minded fanatics, wearing his father's 1943 U.S. Army Air Corps flight suit, and cleared for takeoff.
"Now I'm awake and ready for excitement," said LaValley just minutes before the kickoff.
If you like your Saturday afternoons spiced with peace and tranquility, RFK was no place to be yesterday. The joint was rocking. The Redskins gave their followers a game to get loud about. There were beautiful, long passes from Joe Theismann, running by John Riggins to make you stand up and scream and tackles that could be heard in the nose-bleed seats.
While the Redskins were playing their parts, the fans were keeping pace, cheer for cheer. All a Redskin had to do was whip an arm above his head and the stands reacted like a trained chorus of gravel-throated songbirds.
"Any seat in the house is worth the wait," said Frank Clark, a 30-year-old Vepco worker who spent Monday night at RFK so that he could sit in the upper deck yesterday, at about the 30-yard line, and scream like a parrot.
Approximately 1,200 people were able to buy two tickets each on Tuesday after waiting in line at RFK. One of the happiest yesterday seemed to be Oscar Young. The 49-year-old biochemist had spent the night at the stadium, despite a back that has been broken in three places and gets so stiff you can hear it creak.
"Took me two days to loosen it up," said Young yesterday, sitting at the 50-yard line, upper deck with his 9-year-old son. While Oscar Jr. watched his first professional football game, covered in so many clothes he tended to disappear occasionally, his father was wearing a plastic hog's head on his own in honor of both the Redskins' offensive line and his Arkansas Razorbacks. "I'm a real hog," said Young. "The Redskins are pseudo-hogs."
Scott Weber arrived at the stadium two hours early to hang up his own fund- raising appeal. Weber left college in North Carolina last week to wait at RFK for tickets. Now he was thinking even farther ahead, to the Super Bowl.
"CBS--Tell Grandpa To Send Money To Scott And Andy For Pasadena" read the hand-painted sign he hung over a railing beside the official clock.
While Weber was in the stadium, others who had camped at RFK were in a stadium parking lot having a tailgate party. They had their own signs and coolers filled with liquid refreshments. But looking around, these rookies realized they had a long way to go before they would match some of the veteran fans' pregame spreads.
"We've been doing this for 15 years," said Don Sigmund, a Washington insurance man and season ticket holder who had his face painted in war stripes and wore an Indian head dress while he cooked hamburgers for a crowd that would swell to 30.
Not far away, Keith Krueger was doing business with a ticket scalper. The 22-year-old waiter spent $35 for a ticket that sold for $15. But Krueger was happy. He spent the night at RFK two weeks ago to buy a ticket for the Lions game.
"I was sick as a dog," said Krueger. "It isn't worth it."
None of the more recent campers would admit that yesterday. More than a dozen said they would risk their health to do it again.
"I just got over my sore throat from last week this morning," said Carolyn Harty. "But I'll wait in line again." On second thought, she looked at her husband John sitting beside her and said, "he will, anyway."
Sitting in front of the Harty couple was Lendora Branch. Her husband James waited in line all night last week to buy her a ticket. He gets in free because he sells beer.
"That was very nice of him," said Lendora Branch, wearing a knit cap over her white hair and clapping her gloved hands for the Redskins with slow, firm purpose.
The crowd was more than a little appreciative of Riggins' record-setting efforts. When he left the game in the fourth quarter, Riggins showed his appreciation for the fans by bowing from the waist twice before leaving the field.
If there was one cheer that dominated yesterday it was "We Want Dallas." East Capitol Street and the Stadium subway stop echoed with the chant after the game. But not everyone joined in that celebration.
"I came out here in the third quarter," said Bill Gonzalez, 24, who was making himself at home next to the ticket window. "I don't know when they're going to start selling tickets. But I'll be here until they do."