If you want to understand both how the media works in 2014 and how frustrating it can be to be a Washington Redskins fan nowadays, look no further than last Thursday.
That day, December 4th, featured two major Redskins-related news stories. Briefly, they were as follows:
1. Jay Gruden is done with Robert Griffin III.
2. Robert Griffin III has a real chance to start again in Washington.
As I asked seven days ago: Can we pick a narrative and stick to it?
Rather than delving into that weekly quagmire, I will do what I did last week and the week before that: I choose to take another look back at more fruitful, positive times in Redskins history - albeit a time before I was born. Here are a few more classic photos from "Redskins '77."
Up first is this portrait of George Allen. While the artwork itself is nice, what's even more striking is the list of facts at the bottom. Going into the 1977 season, Allen was already both the winningest coach in Redskins history and the winningest coach in Rams history. While his numbers don't look as impressive in an era with a 16-game schedule, that's still quite a feat.
More amazing are some of the other facts. He was the only coach with at least 100 victories who had never had a losing season (and he would never have a losing season as a professional coach, not even in the USFL). He had made 131 trades in his 11 seasons as an NFL coach up to that point. A coach in today's NFL could coach 80 years and not make 131 trades - assuming he even had trade power at all. Allen had never lost a season opener, and had won nine of his past 10 Monday Night games, back when MNF was in its heyday and really meant something.
But most striking of all, especially in the context of our current, miserable era of Redskins football, is Allen's home record: 35-8-1, a winning percentage of .807 at RFK.
To put that into perspective, our beloved Redskins are currently 14-30 (.318) in their last 44 home games. Again, that's their home performance. Allen's 35-8-1 mark looks good by any measure, but it looks incredible next to the current run of futility.
Next, here's a picture of one of Allen's "open" training camps. Basically, these were all-comers try-outs. You'll note a few things, here, including the fact that many of the attendees seem to be unfamiliar with basic stretching exercises. I'm guessing they didn't make the final roster. There is also at least one person in this photo who looks to have shown up in something close to business-casual attire.
Here's a picture of a young Joe Theismann in 1976, making his very first start for the Redskins. Theismann played well: He threw for 270 yards and two touchdowns, also rushing five times for 38 yards and a touchdown. Washington wound up losing to the Chiefs 33-30 on a game-winning flea-flicker by Kansas City, one of those rare home losses for Allen's teams.
Finally, here's an action shot from the infamous Monday Night Football game against the Cardinals. This was the contest in which St. Louis turned the ball over ten times, including an NFL-record eight lost fumbles, a record that still stands. As you can see by the muddy water splashing up to waist-level, the conditions were less-than-ideal. Washington managed to cope with the weather slightly better than the Cards did, though, pulling out an important 20-10 victory. Both teams would finish the season 10-4. Number 72 pictured below is Hall-of-Famer and now-retired broadcaster Dan Dierdorf.
With the way that Washington is playing at the moment, looking at and writing about these old photos is much more enjoyable than crafting article after article about all the many things wrong with the 2014 Redskins. The way I figure it, there will be plenty of time this off-season to write about whom Washington needs to draft, or whether Griffin will return, or whether Haslett should have been fired, or whether tickets will be available for $1.00 at some point.
For now, I find solace in 1977.