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Rewarding Moments In Redskins History: A New Stadium In Maryland

Posted Mar 17, 2016

In today’s Rewarding Moments In Redskins History presented by Maryland Lottery My Lottery Rewards, we look back at the Redskins officially breaking ground at a Landover, Md., stadium site.

In today's Rewarding Moments In Redskins History presented by Maryland Lottery My Lottery Rewards, we look back at the Redskins officially breaking ground at a Landover, Md., stadium site.

With images surfacing this week of a potential new Redskins stadium, let’s look back 20 years ago, when the Redskins’ current stadium, FedExField, was just starting construction.

That took place on March 13, 1996, when Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke, Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening and Prince George’s County executive Wayne Curry signed a contract, paving the way for the immediate start of construction for the team’s new home in Prince George’s County.

The stadium went up in 17 months, faster than any modern stadium, and was completed by the start of the 1997 season.

It opened with 78,600 seats, natural grass, 280 executive suites and 15,000 club seats. Jack Kent Cooke Stadium was then changed to FedExField in 1999 and numerous additions and improvements have been made since then.

"[Cooke] viewed the stadium as a gift to his fans, repaying them for years of loyalty," said Walter Lynch, the stadium’s project manager and Cooke’s personal architect. "He wanted it to be the classiest football stadium in the NFL. He grasped that sports is entertainment and that if you treat your fans well, they will stay loyal. He concentrated on every detail . . . sampling different seats and even reviewing 17 shades of burgundy to get the right color for the concourses."

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For one of the few times in his life, wide receiver Art Monk was nervous before an NFL game.

On the eve of the Redskins’ Monday Night Football matchup with the Broncos at RFK Stadium, Monk knew he had the opportunity to break the NFL receptions record.

He wanted to get it out of the way, and so did the Redskins, who faced the Eagles the next week and wanted Monk’s attention, and the team’s attention, on their division rival.

For a moment, on that Oct.12 night, it looked as though the record would have to wait. The Redskins were crushing the Broncos and throwing the ball wasn’t particularly practical as the fourth quarter ran down. But head coach Joe Gibbs pressed on.

He called three pass plays in a row for the eventual Hall of Famer during a final fourth quarter drive.

The third pass was the record-setter, a 10-yard throw from Mark Rypien that Monk caught by the Broncos sideline with just more than three minutes left to play. The reception made history, pushing past Steve Largent, and Monk was quickly lifted into the air by his teammates to celebrate.

"I knew it was for the record. It was a play designed for me to catch," Monk said after the Redskins’ eventual 34-3 victory. "I'm glad it's over. I was nervous before the game--that's something I'm not used to. I was glad to be able to do it here."

With the game in hand, those that didn’t leave early for traffic were rewarded for their patience and roared for their wide receiver.

Monk finished the night with seven catches for 69 yards and would finish his career with 940 receptions, now 17th overall on the all-time receptions list in NFL history.

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