Regaling over the Super Bowl season one more time, the Washington Redskins were honored at the 22nd annual Welcome Home luncheon at the Sheraton Washington hotel yesterday.
"I'm convinced that if the Redskins want to win Super Bowl XVII more than anyone else on the face of the earth," team owner Jack Kent Cooke told an audience of more than 2,000 people, "by God, they will."
The two-hour, coat-and-tie affair was largely an exhibition of one-liners, primarily jokes ribbing quarterback Joe Theismann for his glibness. Stage lights constantly zeroed in on the Redskins players and coaches sitting at the head table, at times casting a mysterious glow off defensive end Dexter Manley's Mohawk haircut. As they were lauded, players fidgeted.
It was the kind of day where the loudest cheers were addressed to running back John Riggins and recently inducted Pro Football Hall of Famers Bobby Mitchell and Sonny Jurgensen, where Mayor Marion Barry bellowed, "I'm going Hog wild," and where Cooke said of kicker Mark Moseley, "Mark is eating so many Chicken McNuggets he is starting to look like Frank Perdue."
It was the kind of day where veterans like defensive tackle Dave Butz, center Jeff Bostic, quarterback Theismann and offensive tackle George Starke showed poise in public speaking.
Starke, suave as ever, approached the microphone as though he were receiving an Oscar. The Head Hog said simply, "At this particular time, I am a world champion." A loud ovation followed.
Rookies like defensive end Charles Mann and cornerback Darrell Green seemed utterly starstruck, while delivering short speeches. After Green nervously rambled off a few words, standing about six feet from the microphone, Theismann came on, whipped the microphone off its stand, Perry Como-style, and told Green with a cagey laugh, "This microphone is not a wide receiver. You're not supposed to stand five yards away from it."
Eleven days shy of the season opener against Dallas, Coach Joe Gibbs was more serious, telling Redskins fans, "I think we've proven that, with your help, we're a tough combination to beat . . . We have a chance to do something great this year."
Concern still rattles about the Redskins' offensive line.
The champions entered training camp with six solid linemen: tackles Starke and Joe Jacoby, guards Russ Grimm and Mark May, center Bostic and reserve guard/tackle Don Laster. But Joe Bugel, the coach in charge of that unit, has not been able to find other blockers (the Redskins likely will keep eight offensive linemen) able to provide the depth that guard Fred Dean took with him when he departed to the U.S. Football League. Maybe that was remedied yesterday.
The Redskins brought aboard guard Ken Huff, a nine-year veteran of the Baltimore Colts. Huff, a durable 6-foot-4, 259-pound former all-America at North Carolina, became available when he had a salary dispute with the Colts and did not report. The Redskins researched Huff for more than a month.
"Huff has been starting for Baltimore for five years, since when the Colts were division champions. I see him fitting in as a swing guard," Bugel said. Though Huff is graying prematurely, Bugel said, "He may be 30, but I think he's got a lot of years left in his body. He's taken care of himself, like Starke (age 35)."
Besides Huff, the Redskins picked up guard Bruce Kimball, a second-year player waived by the New York Giants. Kimball is a 6-2, 260-pound strong man, who has a Fu Manchu mustache and the ability to bench press more than 500 pounds.
"He's a tough son of gun, a self-made man," Bugel said. "I'm trying to convince Joe (Gibbs) to keep nine (offensive) linemen, but that may be too greedy.
"If we can get one or two (reserve) guards to come through for us, I'd be able to relieve (starting tackles) Jacoby and Starke with May and Laster," said Bugel, who requires each of his linemen to be able to play at least two positions. "That would give us four good tackles all the time."
Grimm has a bruised left shoulder and May's partially torn right triceps still hinders his movement. Bugel said neither will start in the final preseason game against the Bills at Buffalo Saturday at 6 p.m.
Laster will replace May at right guard and Roy Simmons, a fourth-year guard brought in last week after being waived by the Giants, will start at left guard for Grimm, according to Bugel. Simmons seems on the verge of claiming one of the final two line spots.
Rookie tackle Bob Winckler is on the injured reserve list with a neck injury and rookie guard Nathan Newton has not been impressive. Veteran center Art Kuehn, picked up last week after Seattle released him, appears vulnerable.
"I told the guys today that I hope we'll get all five (starters) healthy for Dallas (Sept. 5). I've only started that bunch one time in the preseason, against Atlanta," Bugel said.
The Redskins waived wide receiver Jack Steptoe and rookie cornerback Isaac (Bo Scott) Metcalf, recently acquired from Pittsburgh. The moves were necessitated by the acquisition of Kimball and Huff; the Redskins thereby remain at the 60-man limit. NFL rosters must be trimmed to the final 49-man limit Monday.