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Redskins '77 - Part Two

Some more fun Washington Redskins photos from days gone by.

Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The alternative to sharing some fun pictures from 37 years ago is to discuss in detail how the media rapidly migrates from Redskins narrative to Redskins narrative, swearing all the way that this time they have it right.

This year alone, we've gone from "Robert Griffin III is too fragile to play" to "Kirk Cousins is the quarterback Jay Gruden wanted all along" to "Kirk Cousins is the quarterback of the future" to "Good heavens, Kirk Cousins is bad - Griffin is the quarterback of the future after all!" to "The locker room hates Griffin" to "Maybe Colt McCoy should start!  He beat Dallas!" to "Gruden has to let Griffin play to see if he can handle this system" to "Griffin has played his last game for Washington" to "Colt McCoy is the quarterback Gruden wanted all along!"

Of course, we're a McCoy concussion and a Griffin game-winning drive away from two or three new narratives.

For the moment, we're stuck on Griffin being finished with the Redskins at 24 years old with a year left on his contract, and Jay Gruden being some kind of hero for having the "guts" to stand up to an evil ownership / front office that had to be talked into allowing Gruden to bench Griffin.


In the span of 24 hours, we went from Griffin possibly being benched to Griffin having played his last down for the Redskins.

Everything gets the Chicken Little treatment.

UPDATE: Indeed, ProFootballTalk is now reporting that Griffin's benching may only be "temporary."  Perfect!  A new narrative, just in time for the publication of this article!

I think it's just as likely that RG3 will be the Redskins' opening-day starter in 2015 as it is that they'll decide to get rid of him in the offseason.  There's a lot left to be settled.  Despite the fact that people inside the organization are undecided on these points, it seems like several voices are claiming with near-certainty that these decisions are final.


But, rather than wade into this swamp, I'm opting to share a few more pictures from Redskins '77.

First, here's the letter to the fans by then-team-president and part-owner Edward Bennett Williams.  Note that he analogizes the franchise to Sir Galahad in pursuit of the Holy Grail (a Super Bowl championship).  I'm guessing a different metaphor might be chosen today.  Note also that Williams both praises 1976's 10-4 record, but also cautions that it "wasn't good enough."  Here's the full letter:


These is obviously the Redskins' pre-practice stretching routine, led by an unidentified man in some unfortunately revealing shorts.  It's amazing to look at this photo from the perspective of 2014 and realize that, even a decade into the Super Bowl era, pro football was still rather primitive.  What you see below looks more like a high school football practice than it does the sophisticated, well-funded endeavor that would constitute a twenty-first-century NFL team's training:


Speaking of practice, George Allen was notoriously paranoid about spies.  He had strict policies about who could be present when the team was working out.  The giant sign you see depicted below leaves no doubt about the team's attitude toward outsiders:


Lastly, there's this picture of what the Redskins' film room looked like in the mid-70s.  Remember that the now-obsolete but formerly ubiquitous VHS format wouldn't even become commercially available in the United States until the summer of 1977.  Betamax (which eventually lost out to VHS, but was still popular for media uses) had only been around since 1975.  So, in 1976-77, everything was still reel-to-reel, just as it had been for decades.  For you younger readers, those circular metal things on the shelves hold game film (which was almost certainly black-and-white).  They were played on the projector visible in the back of the room.  Also noteworthy is the banner at the front of the room.  George Allen was a big proponent of the importance of special teams.  The banner reads "WE EXPECT TO WIN TWO GAMES BY BIG PLAYS FROM OUR SPECIAL TEAMS."  :


The late 1970s were a simpler time for the Washington Redskins.  The team was close to having the makings of a champion, and, in any event, were in contention for the NFC East crown almost every season.  Whether fans realized it or not, the team was just a few seasons away from entering the greatest era in the history of the franchise.

What we wouldn't give for a small dose of that optimism today.