Tag Archives: John Riggins

Why did John Riggins come back to the Redskins?

NFL Training Camp is not that interesting in and of itself, but John Riggins is really interesting, so I thought I’d wonder out loud about his appearance at Washington Redskins camp yesterday.

Riggins, the greatest character in D.C. sports during my lifetime, had “gone off the reservation” a few years back after a feud with the Skins’ owner Dan Snyder. After being let go from team-owned WTEM, Riggins had a radio show that simulcast on a local regional sports network (DC Sports Bog, The Post), but also provided commentary on WTOP. He got fed up with the Skins, quit his radio show (DC Sports Bog, The Post) and also started Riggo on the Range which is now on CSN Washington. Somewhere along the line, he said Dan Snyder had a dark heart (DC Sports Bog, The Post). When asked last year about Alfred Morris he responded he had not been paying attention (Hogs Haven).

Now, Ol’ Riggo is back hanging out in training camp with the Redskins, interviewed by team media and everything. DC Sports Bog and Sons of Washington covered it, but left unsaid is what changed? There are several possibilities:

  • The franchise reached out to him, they cleared the air (maybe Danny Boy saw “John Riggins: A Football Life” and had a change of heart)
  • Riggins reached out to the franchise, they cleared the air
  • He just showed up
  • Riggo is a frontrunner and is hanging out because the team actually made the playoffs last year
  • Riggo on the Range isn’t going to sell itself — perhaps publicity for his show trumps other things
  • Riggo might see a chance to get in the radio booth with Sam Huff out and Sonny Jurgensen also getting older

All of these are plausible and probably acceptable to most fans. I am just curious what brought him back. It isn’t like this is the first time he disappeared for a while:

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John Riggins, Redskins won their first Super Bowl 30 years ago today


Thirty years ago today, John Riggins ran through Don McNeal to score a 42 yard touchdown in Super Bowl XVII. That run put the Washington Redskins up 20-17 over the Miami Dolphins, a lead never relinquished.

Riggins, Redskins Run to Super Bowl Title, 27-17The Post

Hail To The Redskins!Sports Illustrated

PREVIOUSLY: MUST SEE: John Riggins: A Football Life at 8 p.m. on NFL Network

h/t @SteveRep44

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MUST SEE: John Riggins: A Football Life at 8 p.m. on NFL Network

Tonight, the NFL Films series “A Football Life” features Washington Redskins great John Riggins. It is absolute must see viewing for any Washingtonian, whether they were a fan or not, and of course all football fans.

Twelve minutes of the documentary are already up at ‘John Riggins: A Football Life’ – Sneak Peek. It is really good, even though it is mostly information that isn’t new, but with Riggins describing some things.

The NFL Films producer Dave Douglas told DC Sports Bog – More on the NFL Network’s John Riggins documentary all about it:

In my 35 seasons here, this has been by far the most enjoyable show I’ve ever worked on,” Douglas told me this week. “It’s not even close. Not even close. It’s not just John’s material and stories. Once you talk to him, and meet him, and have a couple beers with him, you realize how wonderful and real he is.

I can’t wait to see the whole thing. I’m half-hoping that some of the myths surrounding Riggins are elaborated on. One of them was he partied too hard before a game and asked his linemen, the Hogs, only to block well enough for him to get about 3 yards — he didn’t think he could run any farther. Naturally, they didn’t listen and he ran for something like 150 yards. From what I gathered, it was in January 1983 during the playoffs, the game he bowed to the crowd. Then again, “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

Transplants to Washington, this is part of the reason people still love the Redskins and have put up so much from Dan Snyder. Hopefully, Snyder will see this documentary and go make peace with the Redskins and “get him back in the family.”

When I was a kid, I met Riggins in the Vienna Mister Donut (RIP). I got his autograph, complemented him on his preseason game analysis. He was shy, but accommodating to an autograph request. That was probably at least five years after he stopped playing and he still looked like he could play.

Here is another Riggins feature, probably from around 1988 or so, some of the clips are used in “A Football Life”

Another one:

Oh, look at this:

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Riggins and Theismann would make a great Redskins radio team

Last week DC Sports Bog reported that John Riggins was speculating on his tv/HD radio show that this is the final season of Sonny Jurgensen and Sam Huff on Washington Redskins radio. The pair has been doing games together since time immemorial.

Riggins is not making a leap of logic coming to the conclusion that this will be it for the Sonny and Sam. I don’t think I am making a leap of logic that Riggo is campaigning for a job. I’m okay with that too, because Riggins is as insightful a football mind as you will find, plus he does have a tendency to offer unique perspectives. I think he’d be the perfect third man in the booth. I’d make Joe Theismann the second man.

Back in 2006, when Tony Kornheiser joined Monday Night Football with Theismann , I noted that if there were two Washingtonians in the booth and one of them wasn’t Riggins, it was a mistake. While that will never be corrected on Monday Night Football, a changing of the guard in Redskins radio is an excellent opportunity pair the two together. I know that not everybody likes Theismann, but I’m okay with him. I think Riggins and Theismann would keep each other in check for the most part and when they didn’t, it would probably be quite entertaining.

There are probably two major stumbling blocks keeping this from happening. The first one is a big one — Riggins ongoing feud with Redskins owner Daniel Snyder. The specifics of the feud are not publicly known, but it probably has to do with let go from Snyder’s ESPN radio station. However, given that Riggins has gone of the reservation before, most notably in 1980 when he sat out the season in a contract dispute, it isn’t inconceivable that he could mend fences. Snyder would have to be willing to overlook the past as well and while we’ve been seeing the softer side of Snider of late, I’m not sure if he’s quite willing to forgive and forget. Theismann on the other hand might still prefer to do television, though he’s been out of calling games every week since Monday Night Football let him go. He apparently has good relations with Snyder too.

Last November, Riggins and Theismann met with each other and discussed the state of the Redskins. They apparently got into a snit after the fact, but here is how the worked together then:

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Despite two Washingtonians, Monday Night Football fumbles

When ESPN realized that play-by-play announcer Al Michaels might leave Monday Night Football for NBC’s Sunday Football (USA Today) they decided to hire Tony Kornheiser of The Post/WTEM/ESPN as the third man in the booth. Kornheiser joins new former Redskins QB Joe Theismann, who parlayed his experience analysing American Gladiators and Terps basketball into the Sunday night gig when ESPN held the rights, and new play-by-play man Mike Tirico. While it might sound great having two Washingtonians in the booth, I cannot get too excited because John Riggins is not one of them.

riggins.jpg

Riggins, the Super Bowl XVII MVP is a natural choice, in fact he is signed on for Sunday Night Football on Westwood One radio. Perhaps that is what is keeping him off MNF, but one would think his contract would accommodate leaving for the superior MNF gig. He is a Hall of Fame running back, a contributor to Redskins report and occasional soap opera actor. Most of all he’s a showman and a larger-than-life character on and off the field.

When Joe Gibbs went to Kansas to talk Riggins out of a holdout in ‘81, Riggo opened the door with a can of beer in his hand. Despite it being 9 a.m. Gibbs accepted the offer a beer and soon after Riggins signed and released a statement: “I’m broke. I’m bored. I’m back.” After an` epic performance in the ‘82 playoffs he bowed to the RFK crowd. In ‘85 he made perhaps his most memorable comment, “C’mon Sandy baby. Loosen Up. You’re too tight” to Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. He then fell asleep under the table. Later, he would apologize with a bouquet of flowers. Years later, O’Connor would in turn send flowers to Riggins when he made his stage debut in Olney.

MNF blew it this time, but hopefully in a couple of years, they can correct the mistake and put Riggins in the booth where he belongs.

Retconned from Metroblogging DC

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