Thursday, January 14, 2010

John Riggins Interview For NFL Films

If, like me, you grew up in a suburb of Washington, D.C. in the 1970s and early 1980s, then you loved John Riggins, too. I'm absolutely sure of that. We all did. 100%. If you were an adult back then, you might have had a more mixed view of the mercurial all pro running back of the Washington Redskins, however. You probably still cheered him loudly on game day. But off the field he could be brusk. He petulantly retired prematurely for a season in 1980, following a contract dispute. And there were a few notoriously drunken moments along the way, too. (At a black tie dinner he reportedly said to Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, "Come on, Sandy baby, loosen up. You're too tight," just before passing out at the table.)

But I don't ever remember any kid ever mentioning the negatives about him back then when I was in elementary school and junior high. Every Monday morning during football season, everyone in school would be abuzz about some great run he'd had the day before, and it would be worshipfully recounted over and over. Such is the special allure to children of the lovable rogue, I suppose.

NFL Films has posted online an excellent interview that Steve Sabol conducted with John Riggins in 2007. Part 2 (8 minutes long) begins with he and Joe Gibbs separately recounting their first meeting in 1981, when Gibbs (then the newly hired coach of the Redskins) travelled to Kansas to try to convince Riggins, who was holding a beer in each hand at 10 AM, to rejoin the team. And Part 2 ends with Riggins legendary performance in the Super Bowl against Miami in January 1983. That run of his down the sideline on 4th and 1 has to be one of the most overplayed, "legendary" plays in NFL history. I must have seen that replayed several hundred times over the last 25 years. Even I've tired of it. But every so often, like when I watched this video today, it still has the power to give me goosebumps and take me back to when I watched that game live, not even yet a teenager, over 25 years ago now. You can watch the video HERE. Some of what John Riggins says (and is said about him by Joe Gibbs and Joe Bugel) may surprise and impress you.

1 comment:

  1. Riggins was a character with character. He played the way he lived by his own rules. He was alittle crazy, but every teammate of his tells us that he was a great teammate and underneath had a deep commitment for the game. If he was quiet the older generation might have appreciated him more, but all John knew how to be was himself. Goal-line 70 chip and "The Diesel" will always be relevant in a conversation about the Redskins, and the Super bowl.