For today’s’ ‘Flashback Friday’ we go back to one of the happiest days of my life, December 22, 1996. I attended this particular game (thanks to former Redskin Perry Brooks, RIP) and was on the field for the last 2 minutes of the game…more on that later.
This was the last NFL game the Redskins would ever play at RFK and the last regular season game of the 1996 season. The Redskins were set to move into their new digs before the 1997 season. The new stadium would be named Jack Kent Cooke Stadium and was located in Raljon, MD (remember?). A crowd of 56,464 had gathered to say farewell to the lovable old stadium in DC and it was all the more pleasurable to be playing the hated Cowboys. The Redskins faithful were able to shake the stadium a few more times with "We Want Dallas" chants.
Unfortunately the game meant nothing other than the fact the Redskins were playing the Cowboys. The Cowboys had already clinched the playoffs and started backups at all of their main positions. The Redskins, after a 7-1 start, had lost 6 out of 7 games and had been eliminated for the playoffs. Little of that mattered to the fans in attendance, the fans wanted to send RFK out in style…and luckily the Redskins players had the same plan.
The Redskins rolled to a 16-3 halftime lead behind 3 Scott Blanton field goals and 1 yard rushing TD by Terry Allen. At halftime the Redskins introduced dozens of former players to the crowd. The players gathered at midfield before circling the stadium 1 by 1 on golf carts bearing their names…all except the Hogs. The Hogs rode together in the back of a trailer sitting on bales of hay.
In the 2nd half the Redskins gave the fans exactly what they wanted…a complete beat down of the Cowboys. Terry Allen scored 2 more rushing TD’s before Stephen Davis relieved him and added a TD of his own. By this time the score was 37-3 and the stadium was in a complete frenzy…it was an orgy of happiness. It was also bittersweet as fans knew that with each passing second of the game clock, the end of RFK was closer.
As the final few minutes ticked away on the clock, Redskins fans were starting to get frisky. A few fans started running on the field and the sidelines and were intercepted by DC’s finest. Of course, by this time I was feeling a little frisky myself and I certainly had enough liquid courage to do the same…so I did. I worked my way down to the field and hopped over the stadium railing. I think a cop noticed me do this but he chose to turn the other cheek. He certainly kept his eye on me to make sure I wasn’t going to do anything stupid. I tried to blend into the Cowboys sideline and just take it all in as the game was now inside the 2 minute warning.
And take it all in I did. As I stood on the sidelines I stared up into the stands and took in the sights and sounds. Fifty thousand screaming fans, the bright lights of a December NFC East battle and the memories that have lasted me a lifetime. The only thing missing was seat cushions raining down on me. I remembered the games and I remembered the players. Manley, Monk, Green, Riggins, Theismann, Clark, Olkewicz and so many more. The highlight reels played in my head…and then the game was over.
By now there was no stopping the fans from storming the field. Where I was a lone wolf, my tribe had increased by thousands. I was happy to look and see that my best friend Matt had joined me on the sidelines. Matt’s only flaw is he’s a Cowboy fan. As we were kneeling down in the end zone digging up some turf to take home Matt had turned his Cowboy hat around. Matt took a couple punches to the head when Redskins fans saw a Cowboy fan digging up RFK’s turf. That’s what this rivalry is all about folks!!!! Good times.
As the time was nearing to finally leave the field because the police had called in enough backup to manage the crowd, Matt and I looked at each other.
Matt "What do you want to do"
Me: "Run to the other end zone"
Matt "I’ll block for you"
And that’s how I came to run 100 yards on the RFK field during the last game ever held there. I can tell you this…there’s not another 30 years of 4-12 or 6-10 seasons that will ever take that memory away. I love the Redskins.
Cheers and Hail