Ever since Joe Gibbs announced in January that he was coming back to coach the Washington Redskins, not a single day has gone by without somebody asking me, "Are you gonna bring back The Bandwagon?" As if Gibbs carries so much magic around with him that he could re-create that last, great Super Bowl season just by walking back into town.
Of course I tell them, "No." Or if I'm feeling expansive, I say, "No. No way."
(And that usually ends the conversation, except for the persistent ones who want to know about "Listen Up," the new smash-hit sitcom that premieres on CBS on Monday, Sept. 20 at 8:30. Oh, like I wasn't going to plug the show, huh? Please.)
Look, it's been 11 years since Gibbs stopped coaching, and so much has changed. There was a different owner then, and a different home field then -- with thousands of seats that enabled you to actually see that field.
In those 11 years, the Redskins have had only three winning seasons and only one playoff team. In those 11 years, 15 different men have started at quarterback, a staggering number when compared to the one in Green Bay, and a glaring example of the Redskins' instability. In those 11 years, the Redskins have employed 11 different place kickers. Some of them, like Eddie Murray and Brett Conway, passed through the turnstile multiple times. In those 11 years, the Redskins have been 27 games under .500. For more than a decade then, the Redskins have been the same kind of bottom-feeders as the Arizona Cardinals and Cincinnati Bengals.
And you want me to bring out The Bandwagon just because Joe Gibbs is back? Are you all crazy? Have you forgotten what the past 11 years have been like?
Have you forgotten the world-class stiffs who came through here?
Michael Westbrook, Bobby Wilson, Desmond Howard and Heath Shuler/Is there any recitation I could speak that would be crueler?
Let's not limit this to linemen/There were coaches who were fine men/But they found themselves scapegoated/And eventually demoted:
Ron Lynn?/"Can't win." Jimmy Raye?/"Not today." LeCharls McDaniel?/(Darn, nothing rhymes with LeCharls McDaniel, other than Maggie, my Brittany spaniel.)
Of the kickers who were awful, try Kris Heppner and Scott Blanton/Neither they nor Michael Husted will be ending up in Canton.
You say Gibbs will bring back glory/But who'll bring back Dave Fiore?
I don't want to seem an ogre/But I lived through bad Al Noga.
Big free agents the salvation?
Oh, Jeff George was just vexation.
Deion Sanders no elation.
And Sean Gilbert no vacation.
It's a losing situation when you bow to this flirtation.
Snyder thought he'd be a climber/When he hired Schottenheimer.
But the season just got blurrier/So he jumped to snag Steve Spurrier/Who knew how to innovate/And would make the Redskins great.
Excuse me, Tony, but you loved Spurrier.
Ah, but it soon began to crater/When he signed up all those Gators.
He was just turrfel.
Nothing worked for Steve Superior/The results were quite inferior.
Seeking speed, they signed Trung Canidate/Who at best was barely second rate.
Now the hope is that Gibbs will remain a quick learner/And get the ball to Laveranues, a legitimate burner/And to Portis, a breakaway back and a churner/Just avoid the bad karma of one Norval Turner.
Who had Shuler.
A dry well.
Does it matter who's worse/Can't they both share the blame?
Who imagined so many years after that tease/That Norv would have been better off with John Friesz?
Stanley Richard, Cris Dishman, James Washington, too/They were all overrated, they came here and blew.
But the worst of them all was Big Dana, Big Stubby/Who arrived into camp alarmingly blubbery/And was knocked down and pancaked, and stopped nobody's drive/Got run over so often, he was like I-95.
So now after 11 straight years of this stuff/You think Joe Gibbs will lead the team out of the rough/And you want me to gas up that famous RV.
Take it out of the shed. Clean it up, hale and hearty/Forget Petitbon, Spurrier, Turner and Marty?
Just praise Joe.
As if he didn't go.
For this The Bandwagon should come down off the lift?/Because getting Joe Gibbs back is just such a gift/That the Redskins will rise like a phoenix for Danny/And not slip, and not trip and fall flat on their fanny?
Well, let me think about it.
I'll go this far now:
I root/For Fred Smoot.