THIS WAS JOHN RIGGINS'S Super Bowl. For the Redskins it was the
season of Riggo and the Hogs, as his big offensive line had come to
be called. The Big Diesel, beep, beep, coming through. Riggins
running out of coach Joe Gibbs's one-back offense, which would make
everything else obsolete.
It was also a strike season, a nine-gamer ending in a ''playoff
tournament'' that included teams with losing records, as in the
hockey playoffs. It wasn't a happy time in the NFL, with the United
States Football League threatening to grab the big stars, the Raiders
winning their court fight and moving to L.A., and the bitterness of
the strike still in everyone's memory.
Like a breath of fresh air, here came Riggo, holding a press
conference in < battle fatigues, then tripping the light fantastic at
Jack Kent Cooke's Friday night party in white tie and tails. The
Redskins' owner had announced that it would be the ''most important
party I'll ever give.'' A few of the press were lucky enough to be
invited. In anticipation of a great evening, a fellow wine buff and I
spent hours speculating about what we would be served. What we got
was California jug wine, $2.89 retail.
''I thought this guy Cooke was a millionaire,'' I said to someone.
''Yeah, and this is how he got to be one,'' was the reply.
Riggo was everybody's angle, and the other stories were buried --
the Washington-Miami rematch from Super Bowl VII; the Dolphins' David
Woodley, the youngest quarterback in Super Bowl history; the
abbreviated season. We were just hoping Riggins would have a good
game in the Rose Bowl. No one could have expected a record 166 yards
rushing and the MVP -- or the dramatic fashion in which Riggins
sealed his claim to the award.
The Dolphins were up 17-13 late in the third quarter. Washington
had the ball on its own 18-yard line. Joe Theismann's pass was tipped
into the air by Kim Bokamper, and the Dolphin defensive end settled
under the ball waiting for it to come down. But Theismann came flying
over to knock it away. How big was that play? Well, if Miami had
gotten the ball and scored, it would have been 24-13, Dolphins, going
into the fourth quarter, and Washington would have been out of its
game plan. Theismann would have had to put the ball up; no more
ground game, and Riggins, who had 80 yards to that point, would have
been a footnote.
In the final period the Redskins had a fourth-and-one on the Miami
43. The handoff went to Riggins off the left side. He brushed through
Don McNeal's tackle, outran everyone and scored. On the Skins' next
possession he carried on eight of the 12 plays, and Washington scored
again. The final was 27-17.
''Ron's the President, but I'm the king,'' Riggo said after the
game. Call Theismann the prime minister.
This is an article from the Jan. 2, 1989 issue