Tony Peters has pleaded innocent to drug charges, Clarence Harmon is awaiting trial, Jeris White refuses to report, Mat Mendenhall goes home, Mark Moseley thinks he's been stiffed by the bosses, Fred Dean skips to the other league, Art Monk's wheels are on the fritz, Mark May's arm is half-strength--and the dark shadow of those cursed Cowboys is moving this way.
Time to get serious, folks.
The party's over.
Let's have no more ga-ga over those Super Bowl rings. Let's leave the Hogs in the mud. Get Dave Butz off that heat pump and Mark Moseley out of the chicken store. Joe Theismann has really gone too far now: he's writing a sports column in his own newspaper. If the giddy folks in this town keep this foofaraw going on, Dexter Manley will be running for president instead of running for Danny White.
The party's over and it's time to let these guys go to work.
The Welcome Home luncheon is always a nice reward for those Redskins who survive training camp. But they've never had one nicer than yesterday's in the Sheraton Washington's ballroom, for never before had the Redskins been Super Bowl champions. There is an understandable reluctance on all sides to let go of the sweet memory of January last at the Rose Bowl, and so the ballroom was alive with the sound of music: world champion this, world champion that, we are world champions, we are blub-blubbbzza . . .
"Ladies and gentlemen," cried out the mayor of this great city, "I'm just going Hog wild!"
The guy oughta be arrested. Where are the cliche police when you need 'em?
Then he said, "I'm looking forward to Tampa," which, of course, is where they play the next Super Bowl. "No question," he went on, as unstoppable as Riggo on a roll, "that we're going to beat the heck out of Dallas, aren't we?"
Politicians ask only questions to which they know the answers. There came back from the 2,000 lunchers a murmuring of damn-rights and you-betchas, because the exercise of fantasy is the reason those kindly folks paid $25 to eat vulcanized steak and gaze upon their heroes. At the elevator afterward, a stockbroker type confided to a buddy, "I don't think they'll win all 16, but . . ."
Shaddup, E.F. Hutton. As good as the Redskins can be, they aren't close to being good enough to go undefeated. Let's get real. If the Redskins go 11-5 and make the playoffs, it will be good work. With the current problems and with more likely to come from "the imponderables" as delineated yesterday by owner Jack Kent Cooke, the Redskins have no more time to celebrate deeds already done.
How quickly the mighty have fallen the last two years in the NFL, with Oakland (7-9) and San Francisco (3-6) sliding to mediocrity the season after winning the Super Bowl. They had their excuses, as the Redskins would have theirs should last week's 38-7 embarrassment by Miami truly be foreshadowing this season. But no one wants to hear explanations of mediocrity, especially after a season of going, in the statesman's phrase, Hog wild.
Redskins who spoke yesterday were more reserved than the mayor. Jeff Bostic said, "Hopefully we can . . . get to the playoffs and maybe to Tampa Bay." Dave Butz: "We might not win 'em all, but we're going to give everybody a hell of a lot of hell." Sports columnist Theismann told his readers, "We'll be playing hard for you."
Among the imponderables cited by Cooke, the most insidious is complacency, which in virulent form metastasizes through a team's system and creates a plague of injuries and ill will. "A killer," Cooke called it, adding, "I think we have none of it."
When the mighty fall, complacency often is seen as the lumberman's ax. Unless last season was a lie and we have misjudged the players and coaches, complacency will not hurt the Redskins. "We are characters with character," Theismann says. These Redskins will be hungry for more success.
The question is: do they have the necessary talent? Gibbs was astonished last season when his team played at peak efficiency weekly. He'd never seen anything like it, he said. There was never anything like the Redskins of last January, when they made the earth tilt their way for a month, and now they come back, marked men, with great expectations.
It is more difficult to stay on top than to get there. Luck switches sides, talents ebb, motivation changes. Even without the Peters/White/Mendenhall/et al. troubles, the Redskins would have had hard times. Only the dynastic teams, Pittsburgh, Dallas and Miami, have successfully defended Super Bowl championships. This preseason suggests already that the Redskins may have lost the exquisite balance of a year ago.
Can they regain it? Can the Hogs again dominate good defenses? If not, can Theismann do it in the air with Monk injured and Charlie Brown double-teamed? Without Peters and White, is the secondary terminally vulnerable after a year in which it made the defense the league's best?
Joe Gibbs made no jokes yesterday. Everyone else had one-liners and world champion chatter. Gibbs is worried about finding answers. He said the Redskins did their best work under adversity last year, the implication being they'll need do that again. Can a team giddy with Super Bowl memories be gritty enough to do it again?
"We need to put the memories of the past behind us," Gibbs told the lunchers, knowing that his football team heard him, too. "We have a chance to do something great . . . I'm looking forward to the chance to see if we can do it again."