Jay C. Brandriet
There were a few things different about opening weekend in the National Football League. One was watching the “Washington football team”, formerly known as the Washington Redskins.
From the time I was young, their helmet made me curious about Native American Culture.
The name change wasn’t about me. People with a different background and wider perspective than I have, were offended by the teams name. I’m not flirting with insensitivity. After today, I will move forward and create different language.
Though you could say it was just a name, I feel compelled to say goodbye to it.
WHAT THE WASHINGTON REDSKINS MEANT TO ME
My first best friend was also the first Redskins fan I ever knew. When I was eight years old I fell in love with the Dallas Cowboys. Jens was drawn to the Redskins. He said it made sense that we had chose the teams we did because he was brown and I was white. I have great memories with Jens. He was like a brother to me. He grew up to help protect the United States of America. Today he is one of those devoted “12s” that cheer for the Seahawks.
SUPER BOWL 17
It was January 30th, 1983. Washington was facing the Miami Dolphins. This was the first Super Bowl I had laid my eyes on. I was watching it with my dad when the phone rang. It was my friend Johnny Davis. He had just gotten home from church and wanted to rub it in Miami was in the lead. Johnny was an AFC guy (Raiders fan). I remember it bothering me. It made my NFC pride boil to the surface. I was elated when John Riggins scored on fourth down. The Redskins won the game 27-17. The NFC was victorious in 13 straight Super Bowls during that era.
THE LESSON I LEARNED FROM CODY JENSEN
November 23rd, 1986
I was in sixth grade. I knew it would be rough going to school Monday morning. I would have to face Cody Jensen. I played football against him every day at recess. He was good, and he wore the honor of the Redskins on his sleeve.
The bus was pulling up to West Kearns Elementary. I could see Cody waiting for me. He was flexing his arm as his head bobbed up and down. I walked up and he gave me a verbal beating. We had been talking smack the week before and he started to pour it on.
I got defensive and tried to fire back. I was like, “look, we gave up five sacks, turned it over four times, and had a bunch of penalties.” There was a pause and he said, “so you beat yourself? That’s even worse dude.” He walked off laughing.
The lesson I learned was, its way better to just get beat, than it ever is to beat yourself.
DARRELL GREEN AND MY UNCLE DALE
I was in Watertown, South Dakota for the holidays in 1986. My mom’s brothers were a huge influence regarding my passion for football. My Uncle Dale Rogness would be at the top of that list. We were watching the Rams take on the Redskins in a wild card playoff game.
Eric Dickerson took the hand off, made a move and got him self into open space. My Uncle Dale got off his feet and yelled, “he’s gone!” I remember looking at Dickerson and his beautiful stride.
On the broadcast Pat Summerall said, “good night! Somebody’s going to have to really run.”
Out of nowhere came a rocket wearing number 28.
The NFL’s fastest man, ran down Dickerson at the 15 yard line.
I’ll never forget Dales face as he said, “WOW.”
From then on, Darrell Green was always a “wow player” to me.
Manley was the player that scared me the most. Seeing that number 72 put his hand in the dirt, had me fearful for the health and safety of every Cowboys player on offense.
It was January 31st 1988. I was watching Super Bowl 22 with Jared Adams and Rico Cordova. Rico’s mother (Gloria, bless her soul) made us a tasty pre game dinner. The story of today’s game was “could Doug Williams become the first black quarterback to win a Super Bowl?” At the age of 12 we thought this was a weird narrative. My friends and I were sure he could do it. We knew not enough men of color had been given the opportunity.
Williams led his team to a historic 35 point second quarter. His Redskins blew out the Denver Broncos 42-10.
Doug took home the Super Bowl MVP trophy. His accomplishment was not small. It made people think more rationally about the black athlete.
CHRIS LLEWELLYN AND HIS TRASH TALK
To say Chris would be a first ballot Hall of Fame friend would be an understatement. To say his trash talk was what drove the Cowboys Redskins rivalry for me, would be accurate. “Llewellyn” as I call him has a brother named Corey. They were raised by a Cowboys fan. Their father Jim had classy tastes like Staubach, Lilly, and the “Doomsday Defense.” Naturally his two sons rebelled and have been life long Washington supporters.
Llewellyn became built to hype this rivalry. Even during lean years, or times I was busier hating the Giants and Eagles, he kept it going. There is one particular evening that will always stand out.
It was opening night and Dallas was on the road to face their divisional foe. The Cowboys were trailing, and had the ball in crunch time. Tony Romo hit Roy Williams for what seemed to be the game winning touchdown. My three buddy’s and I erupted like you would not believe….for about three seconds. Someone said, “a flag is down, a flag is down.” The Cowboys were called for a penalty and seconds later had taken a stunning loss. It was a unique, painful tease.
Within seconds I got a text from Llewellyn. It was the most creative, savage, sports message I had ever received, or will ever receive. It punched me in my NFL soul and left me speechless. It was too good and cunning to even share.
Years ago, Kent Turpin worked for my dad in the telephone installation business. He was a hell of a technician, and always a cool guy to me. The reputation around the office was that KT was kind of a “freak fan over the Washington Redskins.” They would say when things weren’t going well for his team on Sunday’s, he would push against a wall as hard as he possibly could. I remember thinking, “That’s it? Isn’t that normal? This KT guy is awesome!”
Derrick was my favorite mentor in the radio business. He not only loved the Redskins, he lived it. As a journalist he saw things from the inside. He would get us access to the actual Redskins. DP helped me appreciate the Washington greats of the past. Baugh, Jurgensen, Charley Taylor, Bobby Mitchell, and Jerry Smith.
Guy Sorenson and I used to bet ten dollars every time our teams would play. I think you still owe me like thirty bucks bro.
Brian West’s sarcasm and that obnoxious gold and burgundy jacket.
Damon White and I used to have some intense conversations. We certainly had disagreements about Emmitt Smith’s place in history. One of the most aggravating things was seeing Damon’s facebook posts the morning after Washington victories.
“HTTR”. (Hail to the Redskins).
I’m sure he will come up with something new.
DEREK M. SMITH
Derek was a classmate and friend from high school. So good and dedicated to his craft, he was the 8oth overall pick by the Redskins in 1997. He started 63 total games in D.C., and was an elite tackler. Though playing for my teams rival, I was attached to watching Derek compete any chance I’d get. When someone you know is tackling Deion Sanders on a punt return? It felt like ten percent of me was out there.
The amazing players, too deep in talent to mention.
“The Hogettes”, in the crowd.
The bleachers bouncing at RFK stadium.
That annoying, catchy song. “Hail to the Redskins.”
The tragic death of Sean Taylor.
Joe Theismann and the night he broke his leg.
“The Fun Bunch.”
Coach Joe Gibbs. Three Lombardi Trophies. Three different quarterbacks.
Darrell Greens punt return hurdle at Soldier Field.
The Redskins retiring Walter Payton.
The vision of “sweetness” soaking in the finality on the sideline.
Hearing John Madden break down how Gary Clark dressed like a lineman.
Cowboys icon Tom Landry on the American Express commercial.
He gets surrounded by these huge players in the saloon.
He says, “because you never know when your’e gonna be surrounded….by Redskins.”
Hail to the memories.
Jay C. Brandriet