I call him "The Great Samu" because when it comes to private Redskins memorabilia collectors, no one touches Samu Qureshi.
"The museum" -- as everyone calls his expansive basement in Bethesda, Md. -- is filled with thousands, and I mean several thousand, of items. The most striking is a life-sized plaster six-player huddle obtained when a museum closed. A one-of-a-kind item, but only the start. As I pass three Redskinette mannequins donning actual cheerleader costumes of the past to three rows of bleacher seats from FedEx Field, RFK and Griffith Stadium that friends use to watch the games, I know this is more than a passing collection.
This is Redskins madness.
The fedora Jack Kent Cooke used to wear is in a glass case. I remember talking to the fan who first gained it from Cooke during a summer practice in Carlisle. Cooke left it behind in the stands to talk to Joe Gibbs on the field. The man took it to Cooke, who was in a bad mood and proceeded to snatch the hat from the fan and smack him with it a few times. Then Cooke told the man if he wanted the hat so badly he could have it and tossed the hat to the ground. The man took it and years later sold it to Samu.
A lot of collections have passed on to Samu after their owners passed on to the big goalposts in the sky and wives were left wondering what to do with "stuff." Former RFK concessionaire Jim Halsey retired to the beach a couple years ago and sold lots of unique items to Samu like signs and clothing.
Samu goes to plenty of autograph and collector shows plus player appearances. You'll probably see him outside the players parking lot before and after Redskins games. At least he's not selling the stuff. It's for Samu's private collection that one day could become a public museum.
Clothing -- Samu has more game-used jerseys than Dan Snyder's lockerroom. They're on racks. Quite a few rings, too. Surprising how some players sell their championship rings.
Programs -- practically every single one since 1937 are in a wall of binders. Samu recently gained the first 1937 program from a widow whose husband died 40 years ago. It was sitting in a trunk all those years and none of the kids wanted it so Samu bought one of the few programs missing from his collections.
They were cups from those 7-Eleven days with Redskins players that my dishwasher long ago erased. Samu has more newspaper clippings than I do. Game balls by the dozen along with leather helmets and game equipment.
Samu collects other things, too, though not with the same passion of Redskins. My favorite item during a recent visit was a baseball bat signed by Hank Aaron and Sadahara Oh. Now that was cool. I hope Samu doesn't add Barry Bonds to it one day.
So the next time your spouse complains of all of the Redskins "stuff" on the mantle, tell her of this guy named Samu who has thousands and thousands of Redskins memorabilia in an ever-growing collection taking up an entire basement of five rooms. Then go back to watching the game in peace.
Rick Snider is a columnist with the Washington Examiner and has written about the Redskins for nearly 20 years. His work also appears in Warpath Magazine.
Snider's Blog: The Great Samu
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