- The Washington Times - Friday, June 14, 2002

Sixteen members of the Over the Hill Gang.

The Hogs.

Riggo.

Sonny and Billy.

In announcing their 70th anniversary team yesterday, the Washington Redskins didn't overlook any of the greatest players or coaches.

Twelve of the honorees were members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Four played for Washington's first team, the 1937 NFL champions. Twenty-eight toiled on Joe Gibbs' three Super Bowl winners and 22 for George Allen's teams that restored the long-dormant franchise to respectability. Forty seven played in Super Bowls for Allen or Gibbs.

Seven quarterbacks from Sonny Jurgensen and Billy Kilmer to Doug Williams and Mark Rypien made the list. John Riggins and Larry Brown headed the 10 running backs. Every Hog but guard Mark Schlereth earned a spot. Cornerback Darrell Green was the only active Washington player selected, although returner Brian Mitchell now toils in Philadelphia.

Several panelists said picking the first 50 was easy. It was the last 20 that caused long discussions, with offensive tackle Ed Simmons taking the final slot after a second vote involving five players.

"People will be arguing about this list for generations," said former CNN news anchor Bernard Shaw, who headed the 12-member selection committee. "There's good balance on this list."

Former players and coaches must have spent at least three years with the Redskins to be eligible. Active players needed 10 years, excluding running back Stephen Davis, who is expected to surpass Larry Brown this season as the team's second leading rusher behind Riggins.

The panel didn't factor in off-field problems while selecting defensive end Dexter Manley, who is in prison on a drug conviction. Panelists also considered nearly 30,000 online votes, though Shaw said those largely favored players from the past 20 years.

Fourteen players attended yesterday's Redskin Park ceremony, with Jurgensen tousling safety Pat Fischer's hair and linebacker Ken Harvey remembering offensive tackle Jim Lachey knocking him to the ground in their first practice. Defensive end Charles Mann's grip could still break rocks.

Many of them have earned loftier honors, but being remembered as one of the franchise's greats was special.

"It's very humbling when you look at the people are who chosen as the greats of this organization," quarterback Joe Theismann said. "I played with so many and admired many more. The one thing that is very consistent with everybody on that list is the competitive nature. Billy wanted his job bad. I wanted mine. Sonny wanted his."

And the memories kept flooding back. Bobby Mitchell remembered Green wanting to race him on the latter's first day. Mitchell once ran 40 yards in 4.34 seconds in the 1960s, and Green was a four-time winner of the NFL Fastest Man Award. They've never raced despite seeing each other daily for 19 years.

"Darrell's either scared I'm going to beat him or he's afraid I'll have a heart attack," said Mitchell, now 68 and a Redskins vice president.

Harvey still stared admiringly at the humongous Lachey, who remains a gentle giant at 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds. Lachey now wrestles with his five children, but his 1994 debut against Harvey was a clear knockout.

"This guy is killing me, and he's so nice he's helping me and saying, 'Maybe next time you want to try something else,'" Harvey said. "Maybe he was setting me up."

Mark Moseley was the only kicker honored, his 1982 NFL Most Valuable Player Award ensuring his selection. Still, Moseley remembered being cut several times before Allen said he would be invaluable to the Redskins when Moseley joined the team in 1974.

"I realized my job wasn't going to be just a lowly kicker," Moseley said. "My job would be very important [because of] last-second field goals. That was my forte."

Theismann's No.7 was mothballed again after brief offseason use by Danny Wuerffel while coach Steve Spurrier considered reactivating the long-unused numbers of former stars. Theismann wasn't overly upset in April when Wuerffel took the number, but he is glad it has been benched again.

"Numbers don't make the player," he said, "but it's your badge of honor, and to know it's yours for a little while is nice."

The selections were announced alphabetically, rather than in order, leaving the question of the greatest Redskin ever for debate. Receiver Art Monk once was considered the best. Fans voted Green the leader last year in a local radio poll. Jurgensen certainly would get many votes, though he defers to pioneer quarterback Sammy Baugh (1937-52). But Mitchell said it's very clear that receiver Charley Taylor is No.1 overall.

"People think of Art because of catches, but nobody blocked better, ran better or took two or three players away from a play than Charley," Mitchell said. "He was nasty."


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