Hello, boys and girls. It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor. Would you be my? Could you be my . . . neighbor? Welcome to Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, boys and girls. How do you like my new sweater? It's by Perry Ellis, and I have 10 more in the trunk of my Lamborghini. Look in your fathers' closets, boys and girls. Do they have designer clothes like Mr. Rogers? Do they make $450,000 a year playing football like Mr. Rogers? You might want to remind them of that the next time they tell you to take off that helmet right now and get in the house and do your homework.

Here's a new word for us to learn today:


Would you like me to use it in a sentence?

Okay. Repeat after me. "Am I dreaming, or did the Washington Redskins just get Mr. Rogers for next to nothing?"

The Redskins gave up the 24th pick in the draft and got a 26-year-old power runner who has gained 4,267 total yards in the last four years. Boys and girls, can you name all the NFL backs who have gained more total yards than Mr. Rogers in the last four years? Walter Payton. Tony Dorsett. Ottis Anderson. That's all of them. Wouldn't you think Mr. Rogers would be worth more than the 24th pick?

Is something wrong with Mr. Rogers?

Is he injury prone? Is he a dog? Is he still using cocaine, as he admits he had done during his record-setting rookie season when he gained 1,674 yards? He never gained that many again, did he, boys and girls?

Goodness sakes, Mr. Rogers hears this all the time. But you know what, boys and girls? If Mr. Rogers has the kind of year and career with the Redskins that his history indicates he could, when they write about how Mr. Rogers arrived in this neighborhood, these are the words you'll read:


"Brinks Job!"


Well, look who's at the door. It's the mailman, and he's brought Mr. Rogers a package from Washington, D.C. This should be fun. It's an instructional guide for Mr. Rogers, telling him how to act with his new team. Boys and girls, would you like to read along with me?

Page one talks about the difference between going to a football game in New Orleans and one in Washington. In Washington, the seats are filled, and the fans don't wear bags over their heads. Mr. Rogers will like that. In New Orleans, game day looked like a subcommittee taking testimony from mobsters.

Here's something on how to dress. It says that Mr. Rogers should follow the lead of the incumbent "one back" in the one-back offense.

Boys and girls, can you say, "Top Hat and Tails"?

Can you spell, "Camouflage Suit"?

Here's a diagram of how to take off my helmet and bow deeply to the fans at RFK. I'd better make sure I gain over 1,000 yards and score a lot of touchdowns before I do that.

Look at this. It's a "One-Back" survival kit. One pair of cowboy boots. One pair of jungle fatigues. One cocktail shaker in the shape of a diesel horn. One autographed picture of Sandra Day O'Connor. Hmm, here are some special sleeping instructions: "If the White House is closed, any floor will do."

Do you know what this is, boys and girls?

It's a cassette of the One Back giving behavioral advice to Sander Vanocur, Andrew Young, Randolph Scott, cosmetician Way Bandy, Amanda Plummer, Candice Bergen, Don Meredith, the prime minister of India, the parent company of Radio Shack and the entire sophomore class of Vanderbilt. Want to hear it? "Come on, Sandy, Andy, Randy, Bandy, Mandy, Candy, Dandy, Gandhi, Tandy and Vandy baby, loosen up, you're too tight."

You know, with the "Hogs," the "Fun Bunch," the "Smurfs" and the "Pearl Harbor Crew," Mr. Rogers will have so many nicknames to memorize. Don't the Redskins have a lot of nicknames? If they had as many playoff victories as nicknames, do you know what they'd be, boys and girls? Super Bowl champions.

Oh, here's something about how to get along with the coach and the general manager. There are just two words here, boys and girls, "duck" and "marathon." I wonder what they mean. "Duck?" Is that Coach Gibbs' favorite food? I don't think so. Oh, I remember. Last year Mr. Gibbs got so angry he threw a chair at halftime during a Dallas game. So "duck" is what Mr. Rogers should be prepared to do. It would be nice if "marathon" meant that Mr. Beathard was a big Dustin Hoffman fan. But it means that he runs miles and miles every day. Do you think Mr. Beathard will remember that when Mr. Rogers was a rookie -- the year he gained all those yards -- Mr. Rogers couldn't even finish one mile at training camp? Mr. Rogers gets paid to run 100 yards max per pop, carrying the football. Boys and girls, can you say, "Give my regards to Carlos Lopes" in Portuguese?

Let's see, what have we here? Something about the quarterback.

Oh look. It's a guide on how to impress the quarterback. It says Mr. Rogers should ride into training camp, like Cathy Lee, on horseback eating Velamints.

Can you say, "That's inedible!"

You know, boys and girls, the quarterback is a very famous man. He has been on TV with Johnny and in the movies with Burt. He probably knows almost as many Hollywood people as Tommy Lasorda. Won't it be nice to meet the quarterback and be his neighbor? I'd like to see his out-takes. Do you think he'd like to see a trophy I won five years ago? I could say, "Mr. Theismann, here's my Heisman."