The Ghosts of Redskins Past

'Tis the season to be jolly? Not if you're a Redskins fan. What's there to be jolly about during a dismal 5-10 season? What's there to be hopeful for, when all that surrounds the team is talk of more change? How much longer do you want to be put through this emotional grinder following the Redskins?

It's the Christmas season, though. And here's our gift to you: A reminder of why you're a Redskins fan and always will be.

. . . Because of Joe Gibbs and his three Super Bowl trophies.

. . . Because of the Squire, who presided over the greatest era in club history, becoming beloved for his eccentricities. The Redskins were a show when he was here -- who was in his box today? That was always a big question.

. . . Because of Dec. 31, 1972. Those of you who were there will never forget how RFK Stadium shook that night of the NFC Championship Game victory over Dallas. No one will ever forget how the Redskins united a city splintered by race. And those of you who weren't there have probably heard about how great that night was. Over and over again.

. . . Because of Jan. 22, 1983. Another great playoff moment and another victory over Dallas. Don't you still get chills picturing Darryl Grant rumbling into the end zone and spiking the ball. Close your eyes, feel the stadium shake, hear the crowd roar.

. . . Because of Darrell Green. For 20 years he was yours and made you even prouder to be a Redskins fan.

. . . Because of Art Monk. He was quiet, even around his teammates. But man he produced and one day he should be rewarded with a trip to the Hall of Fame. Some voters don't want to put him in Canton. But talk to his teammates and to a man they say there's no doubt he was The Man. Gary Clark will tell you that, too.

. . . Because of Jan. 30, 1983. The Redskins' first Super Bowl victory.

. . . Because of John Riggins. What a character. And what a fitting nickname: The Diesel.

. . . .Because of Riggins' run against the Dolphins, one of the most famous plays in Super Bowl history. Got chills?

. . . Because of George Allen. Two years after Vince Lombardi posted a winning season, Allen turned this franchise around forever, raising expectations that remain high to this day. And the stories about Allen! Man, the stories.

. . . Because of 1991. Has a season ever gone better? Three straight home shutouts. Eleven straight wins. Seat cushions raining down after the playoff win over Atlanta. A Super Bowl blowout.

. . . Because of your father. Or your mother. They were Redskins fans, too, and they passed on that heritage to you. They had it worse than you did: in the 1950s and '60s, don't forget, the Redskins were pretty bad. They stuck it out and were rewarded. You will too. You don't know when the reward will come; but someday it will.

. . . Because of 1999. It was ``just'' a division title, but it served as a reminder of how much fun the playoffs can be. The city gets pumped like few others. As the Redskins rode to Dulles Airport for the game at Tampa Bay, electric signs greeted them with ``Go Redskins, Beat Tampa!'' A couple banners were hung on their route at the airport. Kind of cool.

. . . Because of Richie Petitbon. Forget his one season as a head coach and remember his incredible run as the Redskins' defensive coordinator. If he wasn't the best, he was among them. And I'd love to meet the guy who was better.

. . . Because of Dec. 11, 1983. The Camouflage Game. The Redskins got off the plane in Dallas wearing army fatigues. Then they went out and kicked Dallas' fanny, 31-10. But I didn't need to give you the score, did I?

. . . Because of Bobby Mitchell. He was a great Redskins ambassador for decades.

. . . Because of The Hogs. They were successful then. They're successful now. Wasn't it great reading about their exploits and their 5 o'clock club? And you knew everything about them, how Riggins was an honorary member and Joe Theismann wanted to be one.

. . . Because of Sonny Jurgensen. One of the greatest passers ever and their longtime broadcaster. The next time I see Sonny be rude to someone seeking his autograph, it will be the first.

. . . Because of Sonny, Sam and Frank. It pains them to watch the Redskins lose -- and that's no act.

. . . Because of Billy Kilmer's flutterballs.

. . . Because of I Love Billy bumper stickers.

. . . Because of I Love Sonny bumper stickers.

. . . Because you love wearing Burgundy and Gold and can't turn away from a team that, for many years, served as your best friend.

. . . Because you love hearing about how good the Redskins fans are and how faithful they are and how FedEx is usually filled, even in this decade of mediocrity.

. . . Because of Mark Moseley, Theismann, Charles Mann, Earnest Byner, Clark, Ricky Sanders, Neal Olkewicz, Mark Rypien, Jay Schroeder, Doug Williams, Dexter Manley, Charley Taylor and many others who contributed to the decade of dominance.

This is your history. This is why you love the Redskins. Embrace it. Let it sustain you. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

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