Reliving the Good Old Days

They walked onto the field, decked in black leather Redskins coats, and the crowd around the tunnel stood and cheered. Just like they did when they used to walk out in their more familiar garb: Redskins uniforms.

At halftime, 49 of the 70 players on the Redskins all-time 70th anniversary team, were introduced to loud cheers--none receiving bigger hands than Art Monk, Sonny Jurgensen and Darrell Green. Had John Riggins showed up, he would have joined that group.

But the weekend was more than the adulation of the crowd. For the players who could attend, it was about reuniting with teammates, some of whom had not seen one another in a few decades.

They gathered for a gala Friday night, a brunch Saturday and a pre-game party Sunday night. Safety Ken Houston said one topic involved players who have since died, like Verlon Biggs, Harold McClinton and Jerry Smith.

''It's easy to forget [how special they were],'' safety Ken Houston said. ''You get so wrapped up in your every day life. I haven't seen Mike Bass in almost 30 years. Then you look at Chris Hanburger; Larry Brown, I haven't seen him in 20-25 years.

''But it's almost like you just got off the bus yesterday when you see them. They were such a part of your life. You don't realize how much a prt of your life they were until you're away from them and then you see them. The memories start to flow back.''

For some, that meant discussing Super Bowls.

''When I got on the bus, I'm looking at Ricky Sanders and that gives me goosebumps,'' said quarterback Doug Williams, who couldn't arrive until Sunday because of his coaching duties at Grambling. He led the Redskins to a Super Bowl win after the 1987 season, as if anyone had forgotten. ''My 10-year-old son, I tell him about Ricky Sanders. He has that highlight tape and it's like he knows who Ricky Sanders is. Gary Clark is sitting in front of me. I'm talking to Monte Coleman, looking at Jake Jacoby, Jeff Bostic. It's a great feeling 15 years later to see those same guys.''

As for Houston, one play comes up every day: his tackle against Cowboys running back Walt Garrison in a Monday night game on Oct. 8, 1973. Houston stopped Garrison at the goal line on a fourth-and-goal pass from the 6 with 24 seconds to play, preserving a 14-7 victory.

''All around the country people saw that play or have seen it since then,'' Houston said. ''They don't know me, but they know my name. The minute you say you're Kenny Houston, they say Walt Garrison. It's like we're married because of that play.''

The players said they still follow the Redskins, though none closer than receiver Charley Taylor, who still lives in nearby Reston.

''I bleed burgundy and gold,'' Taylor said. ''I'm hurting with them. I feel their pain.''

Someone then asked Taylor if he still had any catches left in him. Remember, when Taylor retired, he finished as the NFL's all-time leading receiver with 649 catches.

Taylor said yes he did have a few left in him.

Then, in a nod to his age, he joked, ''But I have to catch a cab to get deep.''

Laughs followed as they did all weekend. And the players left feeling as if they had just dropped 20 or 30 years. They reveled in the past.

''If not for things like this you wouldn't get a chance to see as many guys,'' Williams said. ''You run across one or two at a golf tournament. But to get them all together, and you get a chance to see some of the older guys like Mike Bass, Diron Talbert, Billy Kilmer. You just don't get a chance to see those guys.''

They did this weekend. Now they can't wait for the next one.


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