An hour before the NFC championship game between the Washington Redskins and the Minnesota Vikings, John Madden's bus limped into RFK overloaded with the tons of products Madden endorses. As Madden autographed cases of beer, motor oil, cameras, hardware and hotel keys, Darryl Grant spotted the bus and just for old time's sake smashed all its windows. "I think we're ready to play now," union representative Neal Olkewicz declared.
Forty minutes before the game, CBS aired an interview with Joe Theismann and John Riggins. Theismann said his leg was coming along fine and he planned to be ready for training camp. "I feel good," he said, "And I still look great, don't I? Let me tell you about the diet I'm on, and the spa I go to, and where I get my clothes. You may want to take notes, so I'll wait while you get a pencil and paper." Riggo, fashionably eclectic as ever, wearing fatigues and a pink tutu, repeated his charge that George Rogers won't run through the rough stuff, and challenged him to "go barefoot on the hot sand in St. Tropez like a real man."
Thirty minutes before the game, Minnesota had some tough luck when defensive lineman Keith Millard was shot in the thigh. "A slight misunderstanding," said the man police arrested in the incident. "I'd already had a few beers, and when I saw the name on the back of the jersey I thought it said 'Mallard.' That's the biggest duck I ever saw. So I shot him. I'm sorry for any inconvenience I may have caused. Go Hogs!"
Fifteen minutes before the game, the Vikes were stunned by the announcement that their all-pro tackle Gary (It Ain't Me, Babe) Zimmerman had changed his name to Gary Dylan and gone to New York to start a new career as a folk singer. "An old tradition among us Minnesota Zimmermans," Dylan explained.
Five minutes later, the Minnesota players lined up for their mandatory breathalyzer tests. "It's a good news, bad news thing," said one Vikings player. "The bad news is each week we lose two or three guys for the first half, until they sober up. The good news is that the league doesn't bother checking us for steroids anymore, so when we hit you, you stay hit."
Just before kickoff, the Florida Citrus Growers presented Dexter Manley their "Orange You Glad To See Me" award. In his acceptance speech Dexter cursed four times into a live microphone and declared, "There's not a tangerine alive that can beat me on a math test."
Darrell Green took the opening kick on his 2, and went 98 yards to score. "I felt a twinge, but nothing serious," Green said before collapsing in the end zone with torn cartilage over 90 percent of his body. Green was listed as "probable" for the second half.
The Redskins missed the PAT when the former Jay Schroeder fumbled the snap. WMAL interrupted its game broadcast with a business brief that "J. Schroeder's All-Pro Restaurant" was being subdivided into Fotomats.
Brian Davis intercepted Wade Wilson's first pass and went 64 yards for a touchdown.
Jess Atkinson came in to hold for Ali Haji-Sheikh on the condition they'd reverse roles after each touchdown. ABC announced it would show a new sitcom called "Jess and Ali" before "Monday Night Football" next season.
Davis intercepted Tommy Kramer's first pass and went 77 yards for a touchdown. "Bubba, tape faster, I think I'm losing my job," Darrell Green told Bubba Tyer.
Minnesota GM Mike Lynn angrily radioed down to the sideline, "Keep playing like this, and I'm bringing back Les Steckel." Ashen, half the Vikings started doing pushups and the others reached for beers.
Minnesota punted. Davis returned 86 yards for a touchdown. Green fainted.
Midway through the second quarter Russ Grimm was so fed up with not playing that he demanded a union meeting at his house. Joe Bugel put Grimm in for Jeff Bostic. Bostic announced he was going on the Harvey (I'm Rejuvenated) Smilovitz Nutra-System diet, and would play the second half as a wide receiver.
Kelvin Bryant dropped another perfect pass, but Anthony Allen scooped it up and ran it in for a touchdown. Ecstatic, Allen spiked the ball into the stands, where it was caught by Ed Rubbert.
The halftime score was 34-0, Redskins.
Marion Barry announced he was flying to San Diego for the Super Bowl, and no matter how much it snowed here, he wasn't coming back.
The forgetful Jerry Burns, who looks like Burgess Meredith after a hunger strike, gathered the Vikings together in the locker room and screamed, "You're a loser, Balboa, and you'll never be anything but. So go punch meat."
Meanwhile, RFK reverberated with the sounds of this message: "This is Coach Gibbs. It's gut check time. I feel like we're gonna need every bit of help from all you fans, the greatest fans in the world. The Minnesota Vikings are red hot, the hottest team going. We've never been bigger underdogs than we are now. In order for us to play 'Redskin football' we need you to cheer for us with all your might." With the score already 34-0, fans wondered what game they were piping into Gibbs' headset.
In the Redskins' locker room various inspirational telegrams were read, including one from Tony Robinson in federal prison exhorting the Redskins to "kick some butt and make me some money, because a buck fifty an hour for these license plates is chump change."
The Vikings fumbled the second-half kickoff. George Rogers, now playing on special teams, recovered and ran it in for a touchdown.
A sign appeared in the stands asking, "Where's Bud?"
Another sign asked, "Where's Fran?"
A third sign appeared saying, "We're Bud and Fran. Any messages?"
Russ Grimm, giving Doug Williams a rest at quarterback, threw a touchdown pass to Jeff Bostic. Chris Doleman dove at Grimm just as he released the pass. Grimm calmly punched him in the mouth and knocked him out. "This quarterback stuff ain't so hard," Grimm grinned.
On the sideline, Wade Wilson and Tommy Kramer complained that they weren't prepared for cold weather. "We played all season indoors, then practiced for a week in Tampa," Wilson said. Kramer leaned over and whispered, "Let's get out of here. I'm starting to peel."
Anthony Carter took over as quarterback for the Vikings. "Those guys can't get me the ball, so I'm taking it myself," Carter said. Most Redskins started laughing when they saw Carter line up at quarterback, but Jay Schroeder slipped out to a pay phone and called his agent about the possibility of a quick trade. "While you're at it, find out what kind of restaurants do well in Minneapolis," Schroeder said.
Darrell Green, fully recovered, intercepted Carter's first pass and ran 78 yards -- backwards! -- for a touchdown. "Match that," he said to Brian Davis.
The Redskins won, 55-7.
From his suite in The Al Campanis Hotel, Jimmy The Greek still insisted Doug Williams can't win the big one and immediately installed the AFC champions as eight-point favorites in the Super Bowl.
Joe Gibbs giggled.