Washington began Philly's sad season when the Redskins visited Veterans Stadium on opening day and shocked the Eagles 37-34 in overtime as Washington's Mark Moseley kicked two field goals, one on the final play of regulation, the other in OT.
While Philadelphia has had to contend with an average margin of defeat of only four points, winning the close ones has become routine for Washington. The 'Skins also have beaten Tampa Bay 21-13 and the Giants 27-17. "I've told 'em that for us to win, it has to be a struggle," Gibbs said. "We have to play our absolute guts out."
One reason for this is the legacy of George Allen: all those draft picks he traded away. Washington went 11 years without a No. 1 choice before, in 1980, it selected Art Monk, a wide receiver from Syracuse who was second in the NFC in receptions entering the Philly game. Monk made only one catch Sunday, a 10-yarder in the fourth quarter, but it ran to 22 straight the number of consecutive games in which he has caught at least one pass. Only once in 36 games has he failed to make a reception.
Theismann credits Monk for the resurgence of the 'Skins' passing game, which took a dive years back when Charley Taylor and Bobby Mitchell moved from the field to receivers' coach (Taylor) and assistant general manager (Mitchell). But Theismann also praises Gibbs, calling him "an offensive genius," an honorific that may soon become enshrined in the NFL's Hall of Platitudes, so frequently is it bestowed these days. Philadelphia, for instance, also has a certified offensive genius in the 71-year-old Sid Gillman. Coupled with Monk and Gibbs is a good man named—Good grief! What else?—Charlie Brown.
If you expect to see Linus and Snoopy trailing along behind Brown, forget it. Brown, a wide receiver, says he has never even dated a girl named Lucy. And he has accomplished a lot more than peanuts in this, his first year. (He had to sit out what should have been his rookie season in 1981 with a knee injury.) He scored a touchdown on Sunday, running his total to five, when he caught a pass at the Philly 27 and ran it into the end zone, where he high-fived everyone in sight. "Charlie's really the answer for us," Gibbs said afterward of the eighth-round draft choice from South Carolina State.
Winning games in which the heroes are named Charlie Brown or Tony Peters or Mark Murphy or, for that matter, Mark Moseley, the 34-year-old, 11-year veteran who's one of only two straight-ahead kickers left in the NFL (the other is the Vikings' Rick Danmeier), obviously has left the Redskins in a happy mood. In fact, they're a regular bunch of cutups. Last Friday before practice, some veterans grabbed a taxi-squad player named Rickey Claitt, a feisty sort, and tied him up with about 10 miles of tape and left him lying outside the locker room. He looked like a mummy. Claitt worked himself free and then went into the 'Skins' dressing quarters, grabbed a bunch of shoes belonging to his tormenters and taped them atop a basketball goal in the team gym.
Then there are the Hogs, the self-styled porkers on the offensive line. Running Back Joe Washington, a six-year vet, says the 'Skins have the best offensive line he has ever played behind. But who ever hears much about offensive lines? Perhaps striving for an identity, the blockers jocularly nicknamed themselves the Hogs mostly because they all never met a meal they didn't like. Once a week they wear their HOGS T shirts to practice. If a Hog should forget his, he's fined $5. The money will be used for a Hog Feast at the season's end.
And finally there was the case of "Officer" Dexter Manley, the Redskins' defensive right end. Last Monday Manley was stopped by police for driving with altered temporary license tags on his car. The officer noticed a badge in Manley's wallet and Manley produced a card identifying himself as a deputy sheriff in Fairfax County, Va. Later, police learned that Manley had, in fact, resigned as a deputy on June 13 and charged him both with altering his tags and impersonating an officer. And they made him turn in his badge. The 'Skins are a team that enjoys needling anyone with a problem. In training camp they rode Moseley unmercifully when it looked as if he would be traded. And so they jumped gleefully on Manley all last week, calling him "an officer and a gentleman" and incessantly doing a Car 54, Where Are You? routine. "Everybody was sounding like a siren," said Manley.
But on Sunday, if the 240-pound Manley didn't have a last laugh, he at least had one of the big plays. He stopped Philly's Louie Giammona in the final quarter on a fourth-and-one at the Redskins 18, gathering up the diminutive Giammona in a bear hug at the line of scrimmage.
Presiding over all of this is Theismann, who's a veritable Captain Public Relations because of his ability to make friends. Theismann, it's said, doesn't deem the day complete until he has his picture taken with a child. He also has the gift of gab, a talent he puts to good use when he serves as a morning disc jockey on WPGC-FM, a Washington area radio station.