Of all the Redskins who attended the Homecoming festivities at Sunday night’s game, I think I was probably the most excited to see Doug Williams. The reason for this was simple: I had never met him before, and — as an eleven-year-old kid watching Super Bowl XXII — I thought he was probably the greatest football player who had played.
He wasn’t, of course. But when you’re eleven years old and you see a quarterback complete 9-of-11 passes for 228 yards and 4 touchdowns IN ONE QUARTER OF FOOTBALL, it’s an easy mistake to make.
Wide receivers Ricky Sanders and Gary Clark were both also instrumental in that quarter of football — Sanders’ second quarter stats: 4 catches for 168 yards and 2 touchdowns — and that Super Bowl in general, but they’ve been to more alumni events and occasionally show up at Redskins Park. It was Williams’ presence that made this seem (to me, at least) like a really monumental event.
“I came back for the 70 Greatest Redskins team,” Williams told me, “But this is the first time back from a homecoming standpoint and I’ve got to take my hat off to Bruce Allen and the owner and the Redskins for doing this. I think it’s big and I think it’s something that the fans and all the players enjoy, coming back.”
Williams had been marching with Clark and Sanders in the Homecoming Parade that circled the stadium, and the trio seemed to be laughing and having a generally festive time.
“It’s always good being around Doug,” Clark told me afterward. “I mean, first of all, I think receivers and quarterback always have a certain bond. It’s a little different than the bond with any other players. And you go with the guy who took you to your first Super Bowl, threw your first Super Bowl pass to you, won your first Super Bowl….me, Ricky and Doug as well-it’s just a special relationship we all have together.”
“Gary and Ricky,” Williams said, “they’re my guys. And, you know, in ’87, we were able to work a little magic and do some things and because of that, we all got Super Bowl rings for it. You know, that’s a good feeling.”
Sanders concurred. “Just to come back and see all the guys,” he said, “especially seeing Doug … the memories come back of catching that 80-yard touchdown in the Super Bowl. And all the other people here, Russ Grimm, now a Hall of Famer … it’s great to be here.”
I usually try to avoid turning into a complete fanboy, but all three of the guys had alluded to Super Bowl XXII in response to a fairly generic question, so I felt justified in asking something that I’ve always wondered: how does it feel to sit around and be able to categorically say, “Hey, I took part in one of the single greatest quarters of football that’s ever been played”?
“You know what,” Williams said, “all I know is it was a super quarter. I don’t know that it’s the greatest, I don’t know if it had been done before, but I’m glad to have been a part of it.”
“Oh, it was by far one of the greatest,” Sanders said. “I don’t think anyone will ever surpass that, man. You know, five touchdowns in one quarter is …. oooo, that’s pretty tough to beat.”
“Especially because of what game it was,” Clark added. “To have that type of quarter and that type of game, when everybody knows everything is on the line, and to be able to explode that way…. Joe [Gibbs] called off the dogs early, quite honestly.”
I can’t really imagine how many dogs were LEFT given the statistics that the Redskins did put up, and I said so.
“I mean in terms of the whole game,” Clark said. “We went more to a complete running attack in the second half, which probably made Ricky Sanders a little upset because he could’ve broken Lynn Swann’s record ever MORE than he did that day.”
“Yeah,” Sanders acknowledged, “that’s probably true. But we were running the ball well and Jeff Bostic and those guys were blowing holes open.”
“And [running back Timmy Smith] had a great quarter,” Clark said. “It was a great game for everybody.”
As the group went into a post-parade, pre-game Alumni dinner, Clark stopped for a moment and looked at the impressive assemblage of Redskins history. “Definitely special to come here with this group of guys, all those guys together,” he said, “and enjoying what the success of what we helped build. You know, Mr. Snyder’s done a great job in terms of taking something that we built and enhancing the heck out of it, quite honestly. Look at FedEx [Field]: you could put RFK inside FedEx. And it goes back to those guys, the guys that we saw before us, even before we got there: Pat Fisher and Sam Huff, those guys. This is a nice feeling to have.”
Tags: Doug Williams, gary clark, homecoming, redskins alumni, ricky sanders
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