Those of us who witnessed Super Bowl XXII. Have some great and lasting memories for a life time. Some of the younger Redskins fans aren't so lucky. So for them, and anyone else interested, I submit to you my memory of that day, which still reigns as my fondest Redskins memory.
It had only been five years since the Redskins won their first Super Bowl with “The Diesel” and Joe Theismann leading the offense. Both legends were gone, but Joe Gibbs' Teams were resilient. The season before, the Redskins made it to the NFC Championship game after a dominant 12-4 regular season. They looked like they were on their way to winning it all then. But just didn't show up in a 17-0 loss to the Giants to end their year.
The 1987 season started out as a mess. If you think replacement Referees make for an interesting game, try replacement players. There were 3 games the Redskins played that featured replacements. The Redskins however, were one of only 3 teams to go undefeated during the strike-effected games. Theismann's understudy, Jay Shroeder, had proved he could lead the team, but separated his shoulder in the first game of the season versus the Eagles. This set the stage for an ongoing Quarterback battle between Shroeder and Doug Williams, that Shroeder, still dealing with that nagging shoulder injury was ill-equipped to win. Doug Willims took the Redskins to and through the Playoffs straight to the Super Bowl. Where they would face the Broncos' “Orange Crush” defense along with John Elway.
I was 12 years old on January 31, 1988, Super Bowl XXII. I had dreamed of the day for a while. I was lucky enough earlier in life, to have seen the Redskins win one Super Bowl. The thought of watching them win another was all but a reality only hours away in my mind.
I had some ideas and offers on how I could spend the night. The night before, my Father, a loyal Redskins fan himself, told me he was going over to his friends house to watch the game and invited me. The Friend in question had a big-screen TV and was, "Going all out" to throw a Super Bowl party. The advertising he put forth was tempting, between that and a desire to see the smile on my Dad's face if the Redskins won, I chose to go with him.
What Dad didn't tell me, is that his buddy was a huge Broncos fan. His whole Family was, and every friend invited, except my dad and I. A little awkward yes, but I wasn't going to let that keep me from seeing my Redskins win. My father was always one to make the best of the worst. Soon, the Orange Crush crowd was sharing good laughs with him and everybody was having a good time.
As soon as the game started though, every positive for the Broncos, no matter how big or small was followed with every one of them cheering not at the TV, but in our faces. It was a long first Quarter to say the least. The second Quarter didn't start out much better. Doug Williams went out of the game favoring his knee. With a 10-0 Broncos lead to boot, I was getting a bit nervous, but as my Dad pointed out, "Still plenty of football left to play".
Then, "Williams going Deep, Sanders detained, Sanders out in front...80 yard Touchdown!!!" The rest to follow, was the most epic of epic routs on the most epic of stages. Now, my Father and I owed the Orange Crushed fans some words, and yes, we cashed in a bit.
However, while I was ready to trash the whole house with rants of superiority, my Father didn't continue to rub it in. He just found a spot on the newly vacant couch and cheered our Redskins onto victory with me. On that day, not only did I witness Doug Williams become the first African-American Quarterback to start in and win a Super Bowl, as well as Super Bowl MVP, but I also learned what it meant to be a class act.