Apropos of nothing at all, here’s a tale involving Daniel Snyder’s FedEx Field box, “Friday Night Lights” creator Peter Berg, Joe Theismann, the ’70s Redskins, and cigarettes.
It was told on Bill Simmons’s ESPN.com podcast. Listen to it here.
“I went and watched the Redskins and Eagles play Monday night, and the mood in Mr. Snyder’s box was pretty grim,” Berg said last week. “And I’m kind of the only one walking around saying ‘Guys, it’s one game, everybody’s got to calm down.’ I guess it’s the nature of football now.”
Then Simmons asked about the mood as people watched Robert Griffin III’s season debut.
“Terrified,” Berg said. “He hadn’t taken one snap, obviously, in preseason, the first half was kind of his entire preseason rolled into two quarters. And it was so clear to everybody watching that he wasn’t allowed to run the ball or do anything other than kind of short slants and out patterns and stuff, and so the defense was able to adjust pretty aggressively to that. And in the third quarter he finally ran, and once he was able to do that, the game opened up and he started playing well.
“I think the Redskins are gonna be fine,” Berg said. “I just really hope RG’s knee holds up. You know, it’s just unnerving how these injuries are occurring now. I was talking to the GM of the Redskins, Bruce Allen, who’s a great guy and knows more about football than anybody I know. And he said something interesting, that he way the guys are playing the game today – and this is including college and even high school – the human bodies just can’t keep up with the way the game’s being played. The speed, the angles, and the intensity of the violence, the human body just can’t absorb it. It seemed like a very simple statement, but it was something I had never really thought about in such matter-of-fact terms. We’re just asking these guys to do things that their bodies cannot do.”
Then Simmons talked about how much smaller NFL bodies were during the 1970s.
“I was talking to Joe Theismann before the game,” Berg said. “And I asked him, what was the average size of your o-line when you were playing, when you started with the Redskins? He said they were between 230 and 250 pounds, and the entire offensive line smoked cigarettes in the locker room at halftime. He was dead serious. Guys were drinking beer right up until the kickoff, they were smoking cigarettes at halftime, they had guts and weighed 230 pounds.”