On Sunday, the Washington Redskins honored 81 years of tradition with the team’s annual Alumni Homecoming Game in front of a soldout crowd.
Wearing throwback uniforms in homage to the team’s beginning, more than 100 alumni and their families were welcomed to FedExField to watch the Redskins battle the San Diego Chargers.
From greats like Sam Huff to Chris Cooley, the alumni mingled and chatted, reminiscing on the days where they played in front of raucous crowds at FedExField, RFK Stadium and even Griffith Stadium.
After trailing 10-0 in the second quarter, at the time the biggest deficit in Super Bowl history after one quarter, the Redskins scored 42-unanswered points. Thirty-five of those points came in a historical second quarter that is still considered the greatest single quarter of offense in Super Bowl history.
Early in the game, quarterback Doug Williams, who struggled to take a stranglehold of the starting gig throughout the season and split repetitions under center with Jay Schroeder, went down with a gruesome looking knee injury.
His body contorted backwards in ways the human body doesn’t normally twist.
Luckily, the injury wasn’t able to prevent him from manning the greatest quarter in Super Bowl history en route to Super Bowl XXIII MVP honors.
Known in Redskins lore as simply ‘the 18 plays,’ Williams vividly remembers the 35-point onslaught.
“From an execution standpoint, it was execution at its best,” Williams said. “When you can score 35 points in 18 plays that means that every two or three plays you were scoring.
“Like Coach [Joe] Gibbs said, he could have closed his eyes and pointed to a play because it was working, everything he did that day was working.
“It was one of those days the offensive line couldn’t do anything wrong, the receivers couldn’t do anything wrong, the running backs couldn’t do anything wrong and I guess evidently the quarterback didn’t do anything wrong either.”
One of his offensive linemen that day was four-time Pro Bowler and all-time Redskins great Joe Jacoby.
Jacoby was an important cog for one of the greatest offensive lines in NFL history: the Hogs.
Collectively, the group wasn’t the highest touted out of college but they certainly left their mark for future units for years to come.
Twenty years after hanging up his helmet for good, Jacoby admitted that this weekend is one of his favorites of the year.
“It’s always good to get us all together,” Jacoby said, joking: “We’re all still standing. It’s good to see your fellow brothers are here too [and] relive some of the dreams we got to do.
“The alumni mean a lot, we are part of that base, that foundation that we set. It’s always good to come back and cherish those things and cheer these guys on and continue that tradition.”
Super Bowl XXII starting center Jeff Bostic echoed his longtime teammate’s sentiment.
“It’s indescribable as a former player,” Bostic said of being able to see his old mates. “A lot of us live all over the country from California to Hawaii to North Carolina to Maine to Florida and we don’t see each other and we get back here and it seems like every year that I come back there has been a former teammate that I haven’t see for a very long time.
“This year’s guy was Brad Dusek. I had not seen him since 1983. No other team in the NFL does this. I’m looking at teammates hugging each other and laughing and talking to one another.”
One of only eight Hall of Fame players to spend a whole career with the Redskins, cornerback Darrell Green was thrilled to rejoin his old teammates just feet away from a football field where they made unforgettable memories.
“What drives me, is these guys,” Green said. “These are guys I’ve known for 30-something years and it’s almost like a high school reunion.
“Last year I was able to be a part of this and I didn’t want to miss it this year. I’m able to see the families that I haven’t seen in years. We hope that the fans can appreciate it.”
Before the game, the alumni held a parade outside of FedExField where they saluted the fans that supported them in similar fashion to the current squad years ago.
One of the 80 Greatest Redskins, Raleigh McKenzie was on-hand and admitted that he enjoyed the opportunity to evoke past memories with teammates who were like family.
“It gives the alumni a chance to reminisce and kind of retool some old memories and old friendships,” McKenzie said. “Some of the guys, they don’t live in the area so it’s good to see guys you played with and see them doing well.
“Coming back and enjoying a good ol' Redskins football game gives us a chance to get the feeling back, get the adrenaline going.”
While Williams received the brunt of headlines after the franchise’s second Super Bowl victory, he knows that he would have never been in position to win if it weren’t for his teammates.
“Seeing Joe Jacoby and Jeff Bostic brings back so many memories because of the things I was afforded to do was because of those guys,” Williams said deflecting the spotlight onto his trench warriors. “If they hadn’t done what they did that day as far as protecting myself, there was no way in the world I could have been able to do the things we did, so my hats off to them.
“I’ve seen Ricky Sanders, Gary Clark and Dexter Manley. You've got to give the defense props; if they didn’t get the turnovers from Denver we wouldn’t have the opportunities we had.
“As far as a team, you saw a total-team effort. It wasn’t a one-man-band, it was a total-team effort. There was so much character on that team it was impossible and I think we were built on character more than anything else and that propelled us to that championship.”