GREAT D.C. SPORTS MEMORIES: The Redskins, The Cowboys, and my Uncle, “Big Ed” Malone
If you are reading this column, I am guessing you care about sports, have a favorite team, and you might even have a favorite memory of a game that brings a smile to your face. For me, one memory seared into my mind is me attending the 1982 NFC Championship game, between the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins, with my uncle, Ed Malone, on Saturday, January 22, 1983, at RFK Stadium.
The rivalry between the Cowboys and Redskins has been legendary. It even goes back to the 19th century out in the burgeoning West, right? Needless to say, there certainly is no love lost between Dallas and Washington fans when it comes to football, which was even more apparent going to the game with my uncle, Ed Malone.
‘Big Ed’, as we in our family called him, was a ‘fan’s fan’ when it came to D.C. sports. For the most part during his life, D.C. had only two sports teams, the Senators, with a habitually dreadful record, and the Redskins, who had also had a long stretch of losing seasons for many decades, as well. While Big Ed and I had our love of thoroughbred racing at Charles Town and Laurel, we shared our passion for the ‘Burgundy and Gold’ with every pass, punt and kick of their games.
The Redskins had finished 1982 with a record of 8-and-1, after a strike-shortened season that pitted the NFL Players Association against owners and management. During what was deemed as the ‘Super Bowl Tournament’ in the playoffs, the Redskins had beaten both the Detroit Lions and the Minnesota Vikings leading up to the NFC Championship match-up against the Dallas Cowboys. The Redskins released a small amount of seats to the general public for the game and I had waited in line, overnight, for the chance to buy two tickets the next morning.
Yes, I stood in line at RFK, in the bitter cold, for 18 hours, just for the opportunity to buy tickets for a game between the Redskins and the ‘hated’ Cowboys. I had arrived early at RFK the night before, so there were not too many people in front of me waiting to buy tickets. When the ticket office opened at nine o’clock, myself, and others, all eagerly anticipated the opportunity to get tickets for the NFC Championship. The Redskins were one win from a chance to go to Super Bowl XVII and I wanted to be at RFK to yell, scream and cheer on my team. The line for tickets moved very fast and I was one of the lucky few to buy two tickets and a cameraman from CBS shot a video of me waving my tickets in hand as I walked from RFK.
18 hours, no sleep, bitter cold, led to many interesting conversations in line that I had with other fans. ‘Big Ed’ was the first person I called to let him know that I had tickets to the NFC Championship. He quickly accepted my offer of going to the game with me and I told him that I would come by and pick him up Saturday morning. Plans were set, but what ensued would be, for me, a fond memory that I will never forget.
It was a brisk but beautiful Saturday morning as ‘Big Ed’ and I walked to RFK among tailgaters. Throughout the parking lot, he talked about his memories of going to games with my grandfather, Harold Malone, at Griffith Stadium. ‘Big Ed’ told me that he had a good feeling about the Redskins, that morning, sensing that they were going to have a ‘big win’ over the Cowboys, on their way to going to Super Bowl XVII. From the time the game started, to the last second of the fourth quarter, the Redskins virtually ‘owned’ the Cowboys, and after Dexter Manley ‘made Danny White cry’, ‘Big Ed’ jumped up and shouted at the top of his lungs, “WE WANT DALLAS!” Fans amongst us followed “Big Ed’s” lead, with a cascading effect that I will never forget, rippling across RFK. Within minutes, the entire stadium rippled with thundering louds boastful shouts of “WE WANT DALLAS! WE WANT DALLAS! WE WANT DALLAS!” and ‘Big Ed’ turned to me, gave me a hug of excitement, and jokingly said to me, “Now THAT is how you whip up a crowd!”
‘Big Ed’, for the most part, was a very quiet man, but when it came to his Redskins, they were very much a part of his heart and soul. Sadly, ‘Big Ed’ passed away, thirty years ago, this upcoming December, but when I watch the Redskins, either at home, or at FedEx, a part of his love and passion for the team carries on with me. ‘Big Ed’ helped to make me the Washington sports fan that I am, today, so when I cheer on the Redskins, Nationals, Capitals, Wizards, D.C. United, Georgetown, and any other of our local area teams, a part of him echoes on with me that I have shared with my son, Brian, as well. If you have a sports memory that you would like to share, please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks and I will see you at a game sometime soon!