It has taken more than forty years, but I can finally admit it. My most difficult experience as a Redskins fan.
It wasn’t sitting in the Pirate Ship next to Raiders fans when Joey T. threw the Rocket Screen. Nor was it seven first downs and zero points against the Jets in ’93. It wasn’t even Clint Longley. (Seriously – do you realize Longley threw for almost half of his career yardage in less than a half against the Redskins? But like I said – that wasn’t the worst.)
My most difficult experience came in my own living room when I was 17, watching my beloved ‘Skins lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers 38-7. It was November 4, 1979. And I was afraid for my team. Physically afraid. Those late-‘70s Steelers remain the greatest team I ever saw, and the way they decimated a good Redskins team that day – decimated to the point that some 17-year old kid was actually afraid for his team – was all the proof I will ever need. On offense, they could pound you on the ground or throw over you in the air. But their defense – the Steel Curtain – was the truly scary part.
How did the Steelers get that good? Well, they had, among others, Joe Greene, L.C. Greenwood, Terry Bradshaw, Mel Blount, Jack Ham, Dwight White, Larry Brown, Ernie Holmes, Mike Wagner, Glenn Edwards, Frank Lewis, Gerry Mullins, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, Jack Lambert, John Stallworth, and Mike Webster. They were all drafted by the Steelers between 1969 and 1974. Nine future Hall of Famers, all acquired through the draft in a six-year span.
My conclusion – and you might want to sit down for this: The draft matters.
There are many reasons why the Redskins have struggled mightily over the past several decades (That’s the PG version of how I would typically describe the Redskins’ recent history. Feel free to insert your own description). One of the primary causes is poor drafting. They had a string of bad drafts through the ‘90s, which caused them to try and play catch up in the 2000s, with disastrous consequences. But you know that.
Are they beginning to dig out of that hole now? I’m no Nostradamus (Incidentally – neither was Nostradamus). I’ll tell you in five years. For today, in honor of the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft, let’s take at look at the best and worst draft classes in modern Redskins history. I’m going back fifty years, beginning with 1970.