1. To all of you who helped to fill up RFK Stadium on Saturday for the Foo Fighters (among other great acts), thank you! We (as a crowd) couldn't have pulled it off had we been missing a single person. Dave Grohl mentioned onstage that organizers had told him that nobody in D.C. would show up for a 4th of July event at RFK. Approximately 50,000 people disagreed. Kevin and I pulled into RFK on the...ahem...early side to set up an old-fashioned RFK tailgate in Lot 8, despite the HUGE signs that specifically said "NO TAILGATING." There are few things in life as frustrating and asinine as an all-day music festival at a stadium venue where tailgating has been outlawed. Luckily, our insanely early arrival threw them off. After all, when you ban tailgating, who expects to see people show up 12 hours before the headlining act? I made it into the stadium in time to catch five bands on Saturday, and as I sat there listening, I was thinking I would try and incorporate it into my Sixpack somehow. My idea was to try and compare a current or former Redskins player to each of the bands I heard.
2. Heart -- Joe Theismann
Heart is most certainly an iconic American band, but prior to huge success in the states, they cut their teeth in Canada. Similarly, Joe Theismann began his professional career in the CFL, suiting up for the Toronto Argonauts after the 1971 NFL Draft--contract negotiations with the Miami Dolphina failed and he went north. A couple of CFL all-star selections later, Joe made his way into the states and joined the Redskins in 1974 (he became the starting quarterback for us in 1978) en route to a storied career. I also note the manner in which Heart has kind of reformed and played different styles of rock (folk rock, hard rock, etc.) over the years. It should be noted and remembered that when Theismann first came into the NFL, he was sitting behind Sonny Jurgensen and Billy Kilmer. The only way he was able to get on the field early in his career was as a punt returner. No matter which way you slice it, a third-string quarterback returning punts is at least kind of badass...like the aforementioned Nancy Wilson- and Ann Wilson-led group.
3. LL Cool J -- McLovin's First Draft Class
I struggled at first to narrow down some aspect of LL Cool J's career to a single football player. Then it hit me: the one thing about LL Cool J that stands out to me and to legions of fans is the way that he kind of legitimized some pretty huge organizations/institutions. Sure, he was the first hip-hop act on American Bandstand, but an NYU student named Rick Rubin cut his teeth in production on LL Cool J's first albums (along with the Beastie Boys). Rick and Russell Simmons owe LL Cool J (among a few others) for the early success of a little label they had founded called Def Jam. Even though he has continued to put out music, it was Radio (1985) and Raising Hell (1986) that paved the way for the golden age of rap and hip-hop. His music brought in multi-racial audiences and popularized a style that has simply endured. I am going out on a HUGE limb here, but I am labeling this year's draft class as the "LL Cool J" of our team. I see Brandon Scherff and Preston Smith, specifically, legitimizing the early tenure of one Scot "McLovin'" McCloughan. When we look back on this draft class, I expect to be amazed that guys like Matt Jones, Arie Kouandjio, Jamison Crowder (assuming no legal troubles) and even Austin Reiter all came from the same draft. It all started when McLovin' told us what he was going to do, and then he went out and big, fat DID IT. These players will provide the legitimacy that good NFL GM's garner by making sound decisions. Future iterations of this team will be shaped by this draft class in a way that previous hauls by previous front office managers failed to do.
4. Buddy Guy -- Darrell Green
The 78-year old Chicago blues man blew everyone away on Saturday. We should all pray that we can do ANYTHING at that age as well as Buddy still rocks audiences. I can honestly say I wasn't expecting to be hit as hard as I was by the performance--but that is my fault. Buddy Guy was worth the price of Saturday's admission all by himself. This was an easy one for me...sitting there in RFK watching a man in his twilight years show the world what you can do no matter how old you are made me think of ol' #28 and his amazingly long career. At 42 years old, Darrell Green was still out there chasing guys literally half his age. Maybe he wasn't as good at 42 as he was at 22, but he was still good enough to play in the NFL, which I am pretty sure 99% of 42-year olds can't say! Do yourselves a favor and check out Buddy Guy if and when you have a chance.
5. Trouble Funk -- Keenan Robinson
I tried to stay current on this one. Anyone originally from the D.C. area has hopefully heard of Trouble Funk and is familiar with the sounds of the go-go scene. They have been around almost 40 years, and they were given the very choice spot just ahead of the Foo Fighters on Saturday night. I feel like the thing here is that this is a group that we know intimately here in D.C. but the rest of the country is simply (largely) unfamiliar. I suppose over the last decade or longer, there are plenty of players that have come through and been fan favorites in D.C. without ever cracking the national scene. I am picking Keenan Robinson because he is absolutely someone we all love, but he has not yet entered the conversation about legit linebackers around water coolers elsewhere in the NFL nation. Trouble Funk killed it on Saturday, just the way I expect Keenan to do on Sundays this fall.
6. Foo Fighters -- Redskins Fans
I was actually in attendance at the Foo Fighters' first concert in Washington, DC at the 9:30 Club, 20 years ago. (I believe the opening act was Emmet Swimming.) When Dave Grohl referenced that event on Saturday, I realized I wasn't the only one. Maybe we aren't so different from other cities in this regard, but I consider this town to be fiercely loyal to those things we consider "ours." The Foo Fighters belong to the world now, and their music succeeds in pulling people together from all corners of the planet in a way few current bands can--but by virtue of Dave Grohl calling D.C. his home, we call his band "ours." We gave everyone that hit the stage on Saturday our best effort from our seats inside RFK. The crowd was every bit as loud as any football game I have attended, at any crucial point you can describe. I found myself trying to remember an in-game moment that was as emotional and guttural as every moment seemed to be on Saturday listening to the Foo Fighters. The one I came up with was the blocked field goal against the Cowboys when Sean Taylor ran it back and drew the penalty that allowed Nick Novak to send Dallas home with an unexpected loss. The night felt like that moment...for over two hours. The energy that Dave and his bandmates gave us from the stage was unreal, and we gave it right back to them. Broken legs, apocalyptic thunderstorms...nothing was going to keep that band from giving us a "win" inside a stadium we were so used to seeing wins in for all those years. Dave and his band have endured and manage to remain constantly ready to rock, staying on the road for most of the year to do just that. As a fanbase, we have endured as well. We have shaken off the losses and down years and we show up on Sundays ready to give that energy...in the hopes that the team will return it to us. More than any player or coach or general manager or owner could ever do, it has been the fans that have kept this football team relevant all these years. No disrespect to the players especially, but this team belongs to us. It doesn't belong to any one player...or coach...or front office. It doesn't belong to Dan Snyder. It is "ours." And we remain fiercely loyal, reminded by the example of a man who played a full set from a fixed position thanks to a broken leg. Dave calls us "his" and we saw what that meant to him. I am not sure there could possibly be another direction on this one, as this fanbase echoes Dave's sentiment when it comes to OUR Washington Redskins.