The idea today was to check some newspaper buddies around the country and see why the Redskins (all together now) don't get no respect.
All of January, the Redskins did their Rodney Dangerfield bit. I didn't buy it. It was bogus. Every NFL team respected them. But Joe Gibbs used the idea as a motivational too, and it worked wonderfully, because in fact the Redskins were not on Monday night TV and some sportswriters, even those bright enough to wear matching shoes, believed the Redskins were flukes in a fluky season.
The morning after the Redskins beat Miami, Jim Murray of the Los Angeles Times wrote that the secret of an exciting Super Bowl is to "take two lousy teams that don't belong there, give them the football, wish them luck and close your eyes and pray.Sometimes you get lucky. The NFL did Sunday.C
Having the Redskins and Dolphins in the Super Bowl, Murray said, was like having Primo Carnear in a heavyweight championship fight. They were "two principals with ... suspect credentials." The Redskins were "an outfit which got its team out of the Yellow Pages and its plays out of an old 1912 Walter Camp manual." As for the Hogs, they were "five linemen so fat they looked like a team belch." John Riggins, according to Murray, was "probably found in a treehouse in Kansas."
Wait a second, folks. Don't cancel your subscriptions to the L.A. Times. There isn't now, never was and never will be a sportswriter who can go one on one with Murray when it comes to having fun at games. Riggins as Tarzan and the Redskins as obscure laborers are Murray's ideas of jokes, and chances are they're real knee-slappers in Los Angeles, home of Wink Martindale.
Then there is Bob Oates, the Times' solemn football specialist, who two days after the Super Bowl did a column accurately reflected by its headline: "Sure, John Riggins Was Great -- but Can He Do It Next Fall?" Oates denigrates Riggins as a runner, asking "where has he been" in 10 previous seasons and then writting, "The question is whether he can keep up his January pace."
Oates also says "bet on it" when he suggests the Redskins could become "overconfident and (fall) from grace next season."
Most sportswriters are sainted creatures who would pull your car out of a ditch while humming Beethoven's Ninth. However. To ask where John Riggins has been for 10 years and to suggest that Riggins is a failure if he doesn't keep up this January's work is enough to make readers wonder if all sportswriters have soup on their ties.
Riggins is the seventh-leading ground gainer of all time.
Only four runners ever carried the ball more often.
That's where Riggins has been for 10 seasons. To suggest this January's work is now the standard by which Riggins should be judged is the purest bullfeathers. Riggins had a month he never dared dream of. At his January rate, he would gain 2,440 yards in a 16-game season -- and the all-time record is 2,003 by O.J. Simpson.
It is not important whether Riggins ever gains another yard. Nor does it make any difference if the Redskins fall from grace and never get in the playoffs again. The memory of what they did in January of '83 will be golden forever.
Most sportswriters are human beings, which means we like to smile, and it's a lot eaasier to smile when the hometown team is winning. On the chance that there's too much smiling going on at this typewriter, I thought it necessary to check some buddies to see what they thought of the Redskins and this Super Bowl. Turns out they loved the whole thing.
Billy Reed, Louisville Cothier-Journal: "The Super Bowl was a helluva good game, interesting and entertaining, and it obviously had the two best teams in the league. In my mind, the Redskins are legitimate champions of a legitimate season."
Hubert Mizell's column in the St. Petersburg Times began, "Hail to the Redskins! In a devil of a National Football League season, they are God's Squad.' They are blessed, destined, applauded, the best. They're from D.C., which this morning stands for District of Champions.'"
Leigh Montville in the Boston Globe: "The Washington Redskins simply were too hard, too tough for the Miami Dolphins. They had an offense designed by David Stockman, a defense designed by Caspar Weinberger, a no-nonsense approach to life straight from James Watt ... I say it was the best Super Bowl of all."
Dave Anderson in the New York Times: "It had everything."
John Schulian of the Chicago Sun-Times: "I hated the Redskins once. I hated George Allen. But this time you found yourselft, if not outright cheering for Joe Gibbs and his guys, pulling for them and certainly liking them.
"If you couldn't like Joe Gibbs and Alvin Garrett and Dexter Manley, there's something wrong with you. The Redskins were appealing as a group. I suppose, under seom circumstances, Joe Theismann could grate on you. But that week -- well, there is a lot of 12-year-old boy in tjat 33-year-old body.
"Look at Theismann on that last touchdown pass to Charlie Brown. He's flat on his back and he still throws his arms up in the touchdown signal. You simply could not dislike this football team. I'd rank this Super Bowl as one of the three best ever, up there with Pittsburgh-L.A. and Pittsburgh-Dallas."