In at least one way, being a reporter is a little like being in the army. You get moved a lot. This teaches you things such as: never send out your laundry for very long, make friends quickly, and treasure the assignment when you get moved to a place with a strong sense of community.
One way of measuring any place's community-mindedness is how strongly its citizens feel about their sports teams. And that's why it is a special pleasure to congratulate the Redskins and their fans for winning the NFC Championship and a trip to the Super Bowl. As much as any fans in professional football, Washingtonians have earned the right to feel they made a vital contribution to their team's success.
As with most of us who have moved many times, I tend to root for the teams where I live. But I'll always have a soft spot for the Redskins, having once been a regular at RFK (at that time called D.C. Stadium). The time was on and off during the 1960s. With long periods away in Saigon and London, I was based in the nation's capital for much of that decade. And even had season tickets to the Redskins part of the time.
Reading that last sentence, many of you may be thinking, "Yeah, naturally, a reporter for a big network would have the connections to get season tickets." Listen, in those days Redskin tickets were -- hold onto your Hog Snouts -- easy to come by. True. You can check it out.
And that's just one of the many differences between the Redskins then and now.
I pause here to note that I have been in the news business for 40 years and hopefully have built some credibility over that time. It pains me to think I will now use up much of whatever credibility remains -- maybe all of it -- by reporting what I'm about to report, but my job is to report the truth.
The truth is that in the early 1960s, not only were Redskins tickets easy to get, but there was no such thing as Redskins mania. There were no Hogs, no Fun Bunch, no Smurfs. (There was Dallas week, but there was no DALLAS week.)
In fact, while I can't always remember specific games, I do recall that those teams put a lot of points on the board. Unfortunately, they also allowed a lot of points on the board. It always seemed that the Redskins would be leading, 38-7, in the fourth quartrer, only to lose the game, 48-45. Either that or they'd be losing, 41-3, in the fourth quarter, only to lose, 41-38.
Take your pick. With a few noteable exceptions my memory of the Redskins is that they were usually on the short end of the score.
Finally, thanks mostly to the potent offense of those Redskins teams of yore, I even remember the words to the chorus of "Hail to the Redskins," which we would sing every time the home team scored. And I want to say to all Redskins fans, that it would give me great pleasure to be able to sing that chorus a time or two this evening.
No offense to Denver intended. It's just that I have such fond memories of those lazy afternoons in the '60s when Sonny and the boys were always facing third and long and losing. Dan Rather anchors the CBS Evening News.