by Robert Janis
(May 19, 2008)
Hello Redskins fans. My name is Robert Janis and I will be writing this Redskins Blog for the Washington Times. No doubt you are already saying to yourself, “Why is he doing a blog? What gives him the right?”
Well, longevity for one. I have been a Redskins fan for 49 years. That’s one year short of half a century. You might say that I am an archives holding the history of the Washington Redskins from 1959 through 2007.
I remember walking across the field to get to the temporary bleachers with my dad and brother at old Griffith Stadium. There I watched quarterback Eddie LeBaron throw passes to Dickie James, Fred Dugan and Bill Anderson. I watched running backs John Olszewski, Jim Podoley and Don Bossler carry the ball.
Eddie LeBaron was my favorite player and when he retired at the end of the 1959 season, I was devastated. Then I was hurt even more when he joined the newly created Dallas Cowboys as their starting quarterback. He was also assigned to help prepare Don Meredith to become a starting quarterback. For a few short moments my loyalty was challenged. But I stuck with the Redskins.
I followed the team from Griffith Stadium to DC Stadium in 1961. We had season tickets that put us in seats in the back of the endzone opposite the clock and scoreboard. A portion of the endzone was cut off from our view. So whenever a play went into that corner, we had to wait for fan reaction to know the result.
In those early years at DC Stadium I watched Norman Snead throwing bombs to Bobby Mitchell. The duo proved successful for the first half of the 1962 season. The Redskins were 4-0-2. However, in the second half of that season they won only one game and ended with a record of 5-7-2.
I was there when Sonny Jurgensen became the Skins starting quarterback after we obtained him in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles for Norman Snead. Immediately it was Sonny throwing those bombs to Mitchell and soon Charley Taylor came on board and became the target of many a Jurgensen pass.
Taylor originally joined the team as a running back in 1964. But it was in the middle of a game against, I think, the St. Louis Cardinals when then head coach Otto Graham moved Taylor from running back to wide receiver. I was there for that too.
During the rest of the 1960s the Redskins didn’t have a winning record in any season but they were one of the most exciting teams to watch.
Then came Vince Lombardi in 1969 and the Redskins fortunes were changed forever. They went 7-5-2 that year. And the winning attitude was finally introduced to the team and their fans after so many years of absence. That was the only year Lombardi coached the team. He was diagnosed with cancer and died the following year.
But the winning tradition set by Lombardi was continued when the Redskins hired George Allen. And it was under Allen that we reached our first super bowl. I was there on New Years Eve 1971 when Billy Kilmer led the Redskins over the Dallas Cowboys which put them into Super Bowl VII. They lost that game to the Miami Dolphins, but we all didn’t know at the time that we would get our revenge by beating the Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII in 1983. I was in Pasadena, California for that game and watched John Riggins break a tackle and run into the endzone to put the Redskins ahead to stay.
I was in San Diego, California where the Redskins defeated the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXII. The Skins scored 35 points in the second quarter alone. So by half time the game, for all practical purposes, was over. I remember slapping high fives with Redskins fans I didn’t even know.
And the Skins won another Super Bowl in 1991 when Mark Rypien led the team to victory against the Buffalo Bills.
Of course, if one man can be responsible for the three super bowl victories it is Joe Gibbs who was hired as head coach of the Redskins in 1981. Of course, we all wondered if he was the guy after that 0-5 start.
And now I suffer with all of you waiting for another super bowl appearance.
Can we make it there with Jim Zorn? Well, only time will tell.
Another reason why I am doing this blog is that I wrote articles about former Redskins players including Billy Kilmer, Larry Brown, Charley Taylor, Pat Richter, Dale Hackbart, Charley Harraway, Ken Houston, Mike Bass, Brig Owens, Art Monk, Joe Jacoby, Len Hauss, George Izo, Gary Clark, Darrell Green, Jim Steffen, Doug Williams and A.D. Whitfield. I interviewed each and every player by phone in order to develop the stories. You can see these stories at http://capitalnewsservice.net and at http://www.sportscolumn.com. The Green story appears at http://wwweveryguys.com.
So now you are wondering what’s going to be in these blogs. I will comment about the Redskins past and present. I should warn you that I favor the old guard — Jurgensen, Kilmer, Charley Taylor et al — over the new guard of Clinton Portis, Santana Moss, Antwan Randle El and Jason Campbell.
When I tout the old guys, I expect you newbies to think I’m full of it and tout the new guys. I want you readers to participate. Be a part of the conversation. Maybe even help to develop an argument now and then. Do your own blogs. I will also be writing articles on former Redskins players under the title “Whatever Happened To …” If there are any players you want me to write about, let me know and I will do my best to contact the player and do an article.
You can also expect to see guest bloggers on the site. I’m trying to line up some former Redskins to do this. If and when I have some committed, I will let you all know far enough in advance before their first blogs.
Finally, I intend to have some quick quizzes to test your knowledge of the Washington Redskins and I expect you all to challenge my Redskins knowledge by asking me questions.
So the new blog is now open. Let the games begin.