|John Riggins breaks tackle on route to 43-year touchdown run in Super Bowl XVII.
It was the John Riggins, Joe Theismann, Joe Gibbs era. If any DC newcomer wonders why these three are still treated with a certain awe in this town, look no further than Super Bowl XVII, January 1983.
It was the Redskins 2d Super Bowl. (George Allen’s “Over the Hill Gang” had lost in 1972.) The Skins had not won an NFL title since 1942. Experts heavily favored the Miami Dolphins, still coached by legendary Don Shula. Joe Gibbs was still new in Washington. It was his second year, and he had started his first with the team going 0-5. Joe Theismann, the quarterback, was a big talker, and John Riggins, the running back, an eccentric who had sat out a year arguing over his contract.
It turned out to be one of the most exciting Super Bowl games, with see-sawing leads and the outcome hanging till the end. I won’t try to describe it. Instead, click here to see the highlights, including Riggins’s 43-year run that broke open the game with ten minutes left. It’s a beauty (though sorry if the footage is a bit blurry).
Riggins won MVP that day with 166 yards as the Redskins beat the Dolphins, 27-17. It was their first Super Bowl win, and first NFL championship in forty years. They would play in three more Super Bowls, winning two of them (1988 and 1992) with quarterbacks Doug Williams and Mark Rypien.
And that would be the last. Gibbs left the team after 1992, and the twenty years since then — a long dismal drought – have been a blur of mediocrity or worse. Gibbs returned briefly as coach in 2004-2007, but never regained the old luster. In 1996, the team left beautiful, intimate RFK Stadium for big, faceless, impersonal, corporate FedEx Field (in contrast to the welcome new baseball stadium for the Washington Nationals, an architectural gem). In 1999, local media mogul Dan Snyder bought the team and things got worse. Occasional glimmers of hope seem always to disappoint. Redskins fans, stupidly loyal to bad management, still pack the stands every week and keep the team profitable — resulting in no accountability and no improvement.
But I’ll stop grumbling and get back to the point.
So while the rest of America cheers the the New York Giants and New England Patriots, how about one last hurrah for the 1982-1983 Washington Redskins, and the best Redskin Super Bowl ever !!
Go Giants !!