Keep your chins up Redskins fans.
It’s been a rough decade and a half for the burgundy and gold, and the jury is still out on whether head coach Mike Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen have the chops to right the ‘Skins ship.
But Washington area football fanatics can still find solace in the fact that their team of choice is rich in football history, both the glorious and the unconventional.
For example, did you know that the only placekicker to win the NFL MVP award was a Redskin?
Ethan Trex’s informative article on Grantland.com tells the story of Redskins place-kicker Mark Moseley’s magical 1982 season that resulted in an MVP award for Moseley and the first of three Super Bowl titles for the franchise.
That season Moseley made 21 consecutive field goals, an NFL record, and kicked the game winner in a late-season contest against the New York Giants, giving the Redskins what was their first playoff berth in six years. The team went on to defeat the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII, and Moseley would lead the league in scoring the next season, though he failed to repeat as MVP.
The story is a nice little reminder of the Redskins’ illustrious history, one that has been tarnished during the Dan Snyder era.
My only quibble with Trex’s article is his assertion that prior to 1982 the Redskins lacked a team history worth noting. In describing Moseley’s game winning kick against the Giants, Trex points out that The Washington Post called it “one of the most dramatic moments in Redskins history,” but he immediately labels that quote as “a statement that probably said as much about the Redskins’ history to that point as it did about the drama of the moment.”
This assertion illustrates a gross misunderstanding of the Redskins place in NFL history that is prevalent with many younger members of the media. Washington was the home of Slingin’ Sammy Baugh, the prototype of the modern NFL quarterback, and the Redskins are the last team Vince Lombardi ever coached. The team won five league championships and two NFL championships prior to the NFL-AFL merger, and coach George Allen led the team to the 1972 Super Bowl, a game the ‘Skins barely lost to the undefeated Miami Dolphins.
Unfortunately, many of these facts have been forgotten by modern sports writers, who would lead us to believe that the Redskins have always been as inconsequential as their last 15 seasons.
A franchise that goes through a consistent period of futility is akin to a rock band that stays together for one too many reunion tours: The inability to keep producing a meaningful product causes people to forget about any prior greatness. Had the Redskins contracted after the passing of former owner Jack Kent Cooke, sports writers and fans would remember the franchise as one of the NFL’s greatest. Similarly, had Aerosmith called it quits after the 1980s instead of sticking around to record soundtrack songs for bad Bruce Willis movies, current rock critics would more highly rate the group once known as America’s Rock and Roll Band.
As it currently stands, loyal ‘Skins fans must continue to remind the rest of the country that the Redskins are one of the most valuable sports franchises for a reason: They have an illustrious past. And while there is no indication that the team will become relevant again in the immediate future, at least fans can still bask in the glory years of Super Bowl victories and MVP placekickers.